Book your March 2017 Workshop place & boost parental engagement via social media

Blippit Social Bolton Workshops

Book a place for this March & April 2017 at one of our face-to-face school-based afternoon workshops and amongst the latest good practice for schools,  you’ll learn what hundreds of parents had to say about what it’s like to have children at a school where social media is proactively used.

These are unique insights that we’ve turned into actions that you can take away and use in your own setting.

Bolton School Workshops


St Paul’s (Astley Bridge) CE Primary – Bolton St Catherine’s CE Primary – Horwich POSTPONED Eagley Junior School – Bolton
Eventbrite - Best Practice to Boost Your School's Parental Engagement via Social Media Eventbrite - Best Practice to Boost Your School's Parental Engagement via Social Media POSTPONED

Kearsley West Primary – Bolton
Eventbrite - Best Practice to Boost Your School's Parental Engagement via Social Media

We’ll not just be sharing this unique parental insight with you.  As part of the workshop you’ll get the latest good practice for boosting meaningful engagement and advice on Facebook’s new focus on ‘video’.

It’ll be fun (yes that’s allowed) and we’re also going to introduce you to some new apps that’ll reinvigorate your timelines too!

All School Based

Online booking is now open for 4 Bolton school venues.  More dates will follow in other areas too. These are half-day sessions that include resources and refreshments for £69 +vat  Existing schools who have our Blippit Social service already can choose the free ticket option 🙂

Visit www.blippitsocial.co.uk  information on Blippit Social in general.

Infographic vector designed by Freepik

Convey confidence & competence to school website visitors in just 3 letters – SSL

Here’s something that not a lot of people know.

There’s a goal in mind for the web and that is to enable every website address to begin with https:// instead of http:// so that the data that passes between site and sender/visitor is encrypted.  Google are big supporters of it amongst others.

Here’s something that not a lot of people know either.

This is the how the various web browsers that people use globally compare and yes, back there in the distance is Internet Explore & Edge with Chrome beating way out in front.

browser stats for dec2016

Source: https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php

Why are these ‘pub trivia’ facts important?

Well, at the end of January this year, Google’s latest version of Chrome (v56) (the dead popular one) will ultimately start telling visitors to your school website whether it’s secure or not.

secure

What are the benefits of going secure?

  1. When you’re logging in to your school website to update it with new content, an encrypted secure connection (Secure Socket Layer Certificate) comes into it’s own.  SSL means that when you enter your username and password to update the site for example, the login information travels securely to it’s destination making access to your website even more secure.
  2. Noone wants Ofsted raising their eyebrows when they visit your site – life is hard enough complying with DfE information requirements – and every little helps. (there is no requirement for SSL from DfE or Ofsted as of 17/1/17)
  3. Your parent & carer community will see ‘SECURE’ being directly associated with the school which has to be good.
  4. In 2011 Google announced that they were making changes to help secure sites do better in searches and to date this has remained the same.

What can your school do about it?

Your web site host will have a very easy and quick method of applying a security certificate to your website thus making it secure for visitors and site managers.   It’s pretty rare that the school tech support would touch this job so unless they’re the person who built and hosted your website we suggest leaving them well alone.  This Google site has a technical guide for how to implement an SSL so if your tech is the person they may want this link.  Schools who have a Blippit Site are already compliant with SSL in place.

 

Our suggestion would be to get the ball rolling tomorrow with a quick email to your provider saying:

“Hi,

We’d like you to apply an SSL certificate to our school website please. We’d like to do this for 12 months initially and need this in place by February or March at the latest.  Can you let us know what we need to do on our part to do this e.g. forward an email from the certificate issuing authority to you when it comes?

Thanks,

<School Who Knows What They’re Talking About>”

What happens if we don’t get a security certificate applied to the school website?

Nothing!

You can carry on as you are and everything will stay the same. The main issue is that the world’s most widely used web browser will start telling visitors that your site is not secure and in this day and age that’s probably not what you want.

Good luck & support a more secure web!

Further Reading:
LetsEncrypt runs the certificate authority that issues free SSL certificates so cost is no longer a barrier to using HTTPS and both Google and Mozilla to actively promote and recommend the use of HTTPS as standard.

Why did some parents get sweaty about Christmas Sweater day?

If, in the name of science, you want to cause stress in the life of primary school parents there’s one sure fire way to do it.  Just change what the children have to wear in school on one day and then stand well back.

To amplify the effect, the following would be recommended for consideration:

  • be slightly unclear about the date for this variation in uniform
  • pick a time when parents are already emotionally rollercoastering along on their own journey towards a critical event over which they have little control
    • e.g. religious festivals, transitions across key stage or school, national charity events like Sports or Comic relief
  • include the information at the foot of a newsletter as part of a much longer list
    • also, use Comic Sans pt size 10 or another any off-beat font to dissuade reading
  • if asked, tell parents you told them already in this month’s newsletter, text, radio broadcast or personal address by the Head
    • this reinforces their sense of powerlessness to control even the most trivial variations in their life
  • forget that parents are only half-listening anyway
    • What was that last one again?

They're only ever half listening anyway

 

In short, for pre-stressed parents, finding a Christmas sweater for their child has the potential to festively and royally de-rail their normally stable emotional centre.

How can a sweater have such an effect?

Well along with applying one or more of the above top 5 tips, it’s probably worth stepping back a bit and looking at these two graphs about why people think they were bullied in 2016. Take a look at the top reason.

Schools are so nurturing, so accommodating and probably unlike any other setting a child will ever experience, aside from their own family unit, when it comes to putting their needs first.  Schools with the best intentions may quietly tell a parent;

“It doesn’t matter really – just something red would be fine!”  or,  “Just send them in with their usual one on and we can put some tinsel on it for them.”

In reality, most parents, having once been in primary school themselves, don’t hear these kind offers as intended.  They want their child to ‘fit’ or if they’re going to stand out it’ll be for having the most awesome sweater ever made.  Back in the day when primary parents were in school it is very possible that the top reason people thought they got bullied was no different to the 2016 survey.  Judging by appearance in today’s society has arguably never been more shamelessly normalised by popular media and at some time probably everyone has been guilty of doing it. Even us perfect people.

The instinct to protect offspring is hard coded and seemingly trivial things like Christmas Sweater day can be a trigger for this instinct to kick in.  People act out of character.

Should this kind of thing be kept out of school?

It’s a difficult question to answer but perhaps, in amongst everything else that school leaders and teachers bear in mind every second of every day for every child, by stepping back a bit and seeing where parents are journeying from and to we’ll all have an even more wonderful <insert religious festival or special event name here> time.

Wishing you all the best!

We are doing social media workshops for schools throughout 2017 starting in the north west of England. Email support@blippit.co.uk if you’d like to know more.

Byte at the Museum

Yesterday I took Blippit to the National Museum of Computing – immediate neighbour of Bletchley Park.  To be invited as part of their Bytes Festival and work directly with their visiting families surrounded by such history was not half-bad.

Out of school you get such an insight into how parents relate to their children and learning as a whole.  They share insights with you quite openly and comment on your limitless patience with their child who frankly drives them nuts most of the time.

There’s noone marking, setting targets or observing when it’s just you and a family which makes for some very natural and easy steps forwards.  One young man (Year 3) made an app and learned what HTML 5 markup language was as he worked with me on the side and his mum making encouraging comments as he progressed. To say he was ‘off his seat’ with excitement when he saw his app on mum’s phone (she downloaded a QR code reader to get it) is an understatement.

Another young man’s Dad regaled me with stories of his son’s disengagement at school contrasting with his persistence, resilience and immersion in his favoured world of technology.  It’s not an unusual story and we all know children like this but seeing how he learned was interesting.  Essentially it was broadly like this

  • “listen to the expert”
  • “grab the basics”
  • “build and try out”
  • “go over bits as needed with expert again”
  • “build towards a result”
  • “publish”
  • “improve on published app”
  • “re-publish”

I’ve been lucky (no doubt about that) to teach in many different schools and environments over the years sometimes as a ‘regular’ teacher, sometimes as an ‘advisory’ teacher and more recently as the ‘Blippit Man’.

blippitio manThe ‘Blippit Man’ tag does generate extra attention and effort from children no doubt at all so my reflections are mindful of how children respond to people they view as ‘experts’ from the ‘real’ world.

This bit of shine from an external expert isn’t sustainable and so it makes what teachers and children achieve together, day in day out, all the more remarkable.

The National Museum of Computing is an awe inspiring place for anyone with the slightest interest in technology and they’re pretty rammed with school visits and tours but if you’ve not been yet, do yourself a favour and go!

Colossus
Colossus

Share this video with parents – How to avoid missing Facebook updates

If you’re a member of the school’s Facebook community but haven’t interacted with any school updates for quite a while, you are much less likely to see updates coming through.  This is Facebook’s algorithms at work ensuring you only see what you’re interested in. However, a relatively new free feature emerged which not many people realise is there that can fix the issue of “I didn’t hear about that!”

We’ve made a 24 second video below (no sound) to show you what your parents need to do.  Just copy and paste this YouTube link

https://youtu.be/QfdLuCCN1Qs

…and share it to your school Facebook page and ask parents to Share & Like it to that their network of friends (other parents) see the video and can act on it too.

As a back up, it’d be worth mentioning the video via other communication channels for parents too.

Here’s the video – hope you find it useful.

Communicating with parents heading in to the festive season within the structure of the Aristotelian Dramatic Arc!

The story arc of your school should ideally be less Aristotelian and more ‘Downton-ian’ where the peaks and troughs are relatively gentle and you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing much is really going on!

When school is on the front foot & leading communication it helps to make responding to parents less of a drama. We think Facebook is a key factor in taking the lead towards reclaiming school’s position as the authoritative news source.

Fishing where the fish are does work & if you’d like to know more you’re welcome to call 01772 657 100 or support@blippit.co.uk

Death Knell of the School Newsletter?

The school newsletter has always been a big deal for at least two people in school, typically the Head plus the poor soul who inherited the MS Publisher Template from the last incumbent.

‘Knowing’ glances often shoot across the table during conversations about the school newsletter and website.  Given the information requirements for school websites this is hardly surprising.  (Clerk to Governors is a must read.)

In my experience here are the most common 5 approaches where tech touches school communications specifically for the newsletter. Some of these are done in tandem.

“We send the newsletter to parents every week on Friday…

  1. on paper with pictures
  2. as an SMS message linking to the website
  3. as a PDF email attachment
  4. via a Facebook update with a scanned image of the newsletter
  5. via Twitter to parents with a link to the newsletters page on the website

…so why do parents still tell us they don’t know what’s going on?”

brian blessed

If Brian Blessed read the school newsletter out loud on a Friday standing in the playground parents would still not know fully what was going on in school.  Why?

Is school boring?

Generally no.  However what’s considered to be news and how these exciting things are shared might be giving the feeling of ‘old news’.

Is it to do with timing?

Yes without doubt.

People are used to ‘on demand’ consumption of media.  Most homes if you’re lucky will save a paper newsletter to read later when they’ve nothing else to do – that’ll be never.  They may though get a calendar out and add dates to it from the newsletter to remind them when it’s non-uniform or sports day or parents evening.  They are less likely to read a scanned newsletter on a timeline and add dates from there remembering the detail while switching views.

Tweeting or Facebooking on a Friday will land better but, still, what is it that’s making you do it on a Friday?  Our data shows that this is not the day to do it.  What time on a Friday is best if you decide to still pick Friday? 3.30?  You need to know when people are being receptive to receiving your ‘stuff’.

Is it to do with the format?

Yes without doubt. About 50% of people reading this post will have stopped already because there are too many words, not enough pictures, maybe they’re just tired, know all this already or someone has just un-paused the Blackpool stage of Strictly.

SMS messages are definitely a ‘read later’ thing once the parents get used to seeing the school sender name and they know that there’s just a link to a long newsletter awaiting.

There are some schools who have gone to extremes.  I know of one school where parents have been given an iPad to get them to use Twitter and receive school Tweets!

Many more schools use Facebook now and report greater reach, engagement and impact. Some however seem to lean to far towards ‘operational’ updates – don’t forget this, don’t park there & nits.   Even on Facebook it’s hard to break old habits and to forget that it’s ‘social’ not broadcast media where the relationship is ‘the thing’.  These messages sit like uneasily in Facebook.

Even in Facebook there are improvements now to make sure parents get your updates over and above others but how many parents know about these?

Horses For Courses
Horses for courses

Teachers and business managers are experts in their business not in design.  Too much effort has historically been spent by schools on making design choices at a micro level. Now, simple is best.  Look at the format of Tweets, FB Updates & websites.  Clear, simple, brief and fuss free from conflicting font styles and colours. Why use 200 words when 25 will do? Let the system you’re using style your message in a way with which parents are familiar already.

Is it to do with content?

Yes. People today are spoilt!  They’re used to personalised this that and the other – even Coke and Nutella let you put your name on their label.  There’s very little ownership over a school newsletter even though it’s a clear sense of transparency and honesty that excites/engages parents.

On Facebook (our favourite horse in the race) personalisation is king.  These are the their updates,  their school, their victory in the cup, their great decision to send their child there.

So how about scanning/saving a newsletter and sharing it as an image update on Facebook?  That’s canny but I don’t think it’s transformative.  How about disaggregating the newsletter into bitesized chunks and drip feeding them as updates at optimal times across the week instead?

With technology it’s often been the case that people do just what they did before except a bit faster/easier without reflecting on how else it could be measurably better.  It’s maybe an indication of the times in which people work – less time to reflect, ticking off the list of jobs and so on.

If you’re in charge of the school website too, as part of the school comms strategy, you’ll have even more to think about. Our approach is to blend web with social to avoid doubling of effort.  Much of a school’s attention is on tending their social ‘garden’ while the website is given a lick of paint each year to meet the necessary requirements. Who really is the audience for your school website anyway?  Ofsted.   We’d like to imagine many others too but sadly it’s holidays and snow closures that make your site stats spike.

Does all this mean the end of the school newsletter as we know it?  Yes – in any useful form I’d says it does but it’ll be a while before parents realise if you announce it in the newsletter.