Latest Updates on Blippit: April 2016

Here’s what we’ve updated, added, fixed or just improved on Blippit IO.

There are a couple more major updates coming this month but for now here’s what’s live in April.

All Blippit Users
  • Plain English name changes.
    • Old name: Comms -> New name: Inbox
  • A Quick Tour of Blippit now launches at log in for everyone
  • The Button to the Blippit Knowledge Base is now bright orange for better visibility (top right)
  • Knowledge Base articles expanded and improved
  • Bug that prevented Blippit re-sizing and displaying properly in some screen sizes fixed
Teachers/Admins CPD
  • Blippit Academy is now live with the first App Maker course available now free
    • course materials also use resources on the Knowledge Base without the need to log in
App Maker
  • Plain English name changes.
    • Old name:  Widget Pallette -> New name: Drop Zone
Blocks & Purecode Python
  • Speedier Turtle draw area to cope with longer & more complex programs
  • Background Scene Gallery added
    • Admin upload own images for themselves & share to all students
    • Students upload own images for themselves & share
  • Capture Cam feature added for users to grab the drawing area for evidence of achievement.  This is in addition to the ability to Download the code used in a project.
Admins Only – New & Live
  • A Notification pop-up tells you how many apps you have waiting to approve/decline at log in
  • Blippit (HQ & Support) can System Message all Admins via the new Inbox.
    • Our Messages will be marked with an orange dot
      • Feedback message from Admins to students will be marked with a green dot
    • Messages will be few and of the type that directly affects Blippit use as opposed to “hey how are you?”
    • This is a pre-emptive step to enabling the same capability for School Blippit Admin’s to be able to message users proactively via the inbox to help you support your classes

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.

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.

Quickie: Facebook Page Changes

Over the next week or so Facebook Pages will be changing in how they’re laid layout.

Your school apps showing the Welcome page, Media Channel and so on will be displayed on the left of the screen as you can see below instead of across the top.  So, no great shakes but keep an eye out for the change.  You shouldn’t be negatively impacted by it at all 🙂

 

What do schools share on Facebook with parents?

summertimehighlightsSharing between schools using Facebook and their parent community is changing for the better.

Just some of the things shared by schools with parents this year via their school Facebook pages include

• Enjoying the great outdoors at Kepplewray were South Failsworth Primary
• Presenting Beauty & the Beast at Ladybridge
• Experiencing ‘that London’ at Barrowford School and Bamford Academy
• Being in wonderment at Alien Landings at Whittle-le-Woods
• Sensing history in the City of Liverpool Museum at Ghyllside Primary
• Installing the new chicken house at Basnett Street Nursery
• Digging the scene on the St Ann’s Allotments at Porchester Junior School
• Sharing the miracle of new life by hatching chicks at Fellgate Primary
• Understanding globalism by Skyping outstanding lessons with Newton Elementary USA at St Leonards Primary School

What does this mean? Well, for me, simply that these schools are much more closely aligned with how the majority of their parent community keep up to speed with life in general and that has to be a good thing.

In September 6 more schools will be stepping with us into the social space looking to reap the benefits and learn the lessons based on what we’ve learned so far.  I shouldn’t say “Can’t wait!” because summer time needs to be enjoyed first but  what the heck – I really can’t wait to see what new things we’ll learn!

 

New Features!

Hello again & thanks everyone for their fantastic feedback – without it we’d be like a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel.

This week we’ve just added a small but important detail that had to be held back at launch or it would have delayed going live.

New Feature Update

Our tiny widget property icons now have nice & helpful ‘roll-over’ tips.

New Roll Over Tips

New Feature Sneeky Peek! 

Great news for all those people who asked from this early on after launch in October Blippit goes customised with App launch icons and splash screens.  It may change a bit by the time it goes live but hopefully not much.  Typically we’re aiming to enable absolutely everyone to be able to do it leaving the skills focus firmly upon getting the best icon and splash screen made.

Sneeky Peek - Icon