We sometimes get the question asked “what makes ParentEdge different from other messaging programs out there?” With that in mind we decided that explaining the differences here would be a good idea. We’ve addressed the 3 biggest questions related to this below:
Why do other text messaging programs out there not work on a wide scale?
Other messaging applications and programs work in a very simple and somewhat lackluster way. Their basic functionality allows for a text message to be sent out to a presubscribed group of users such as parents or students. While handy in theory these applications fall flat in actual utility due to the requirements placed on the parents, students and teachers.
For a message to be successfully sent out the following steps are required:
1. They require teachers to create an individual group for each course they teach.
2. The teacher must then distribute sign up information to parents and students.
3. Parents and students must then send a text message to the application with that specific code in place.
4. Teachers then must create the message and schedule it to be sent at the time they would like.
5. For each teacher a student has this entire process must be repeated.
Anyone with experience in education and parental communication knows that every step required to make something happen exponentially decreases the chances of it happening. First, these programs are not a requirement for teachers to use. They are meant to help but they are optional. Teachers are obviously busy professionals who work very hard. Asking teachers to setup a new program and create a group for parents to sign into is not going to be well received by every teacher. Once you get past that step imagine the average busy parent of one of your students. They have a million things to do and now are being asked by 6 different teachers to send 6 text messages with 6 unique codes and then to keep track of which teacher is which in their phone. Not many parents are going to follow through with that and actually keep track of it. The few that do will randomly receive 6 messages (if all the teachers actually use it in a given day) at different times all formatted in different ways.
Now, look at the paragraph above and realize just how much is required for any other homework text messaging program to work in a school. It just doesn’t happen. The first failure is that most teachers simply will not use the system since it requires setup and more work on their end. Then out of all the parents in the school only a few will actually sign up to receive the homework text alerts. Sadly, the parents that actually do sign up are more than likely not going to be the parents you really wanted to receive the messages in the first place.
As you can see in reading the above several paragraphs truly attempting a school wide communication programming using any sort of text messaging application other than ParentEdge is setup to fail. None of the steps or descriptions above are exaggerated or embellished either. It truly takes that much effort and time to make those programs work and in schools today that effort and time simply does not exist. That is why they fail and end up being a waste.
ParentEdge was designed to address the issues faced by these other programs and fix them. There is no setup required by teachers. We handle the entirety of the setup by importing data directly from the school’s student information system. Teachers simply login with the username provided and enter homework information into the system. The template was designed to take no longer than 30 seconds each day for teachers.
Parents aren’t required to sign up for anything. Their contact information is already on file with the school so ParentEdge simply imports it from the SIS. Parents don’t receive 6 messages in wildly different formats at random times throughout the day. They receive one nice and easy to read message containing homework for all of the student’s classes throughout the day. The message arrives at the same time each day and it formatted the same every time.
Administrators have complete oversight over the entirety of the system. They can control and change contact information if they want or add and delete students if necessary. They can also monitor homework added to the system for all teachers in the school, generate a report containing a weekly homework breakdown and view messaging statistics.
In short, ParentEdge just works. It removes every step where other messaging programs fail. It simply allows for teachers to communicate easily with parents on the one device they are never without, their phone. (It sends out emails automatically too!)
Most of my teachers have websites that they regularly update?
The biggest challenge with teacher websites is that no one checks them except the same 3 or 4 parents on a regular basis. As a teacher you could have a professional level website that is updated daily with valuable information and it will still be those same 3 or 4 parents checking the website. This can vary a bit based on the academic level of the class but the idea remains the same. If you ask a parent to do something the number that actually follow through and do it is very, very low. They might all check that website the first day and some might even check it the second day of school but once you get to that 2nd or 3rd week of school those websites are long forgotten.
ParentEdge fixes this by getting the information to parents on their phones at the same time each day. In doing this it removes any extra steps required by parents and simply tells the parent their child’s homework. There is nothing to check, it’s just there.
Why not just use email? Our SIS allows for the emailing of parents, why doesn’t that work?
Email is a great way to communicate with parents. That is why ParentEdge sends a homework email alert everyday as well. Even in a perfect world where every parent has an email address and checks it regularly there are still issues using an SIS or simply emailing parents in the class. Requiring teachers to email individual classes of students daily is something that just will not happen on a regular basis with the vast majority of teachers. Even if they do parents are then receiving 6 or more emails a day and at different times. It just isn’t practical and it just doesn’t work; especially since we don’t live in a perfect world.
In the real world email is not checked every day by many parents. In lower income families (where there are more likely to be at-risk students in need of more parental involvement) many parents don’t even have access to email or a computer. However, most (at this point it seems to be almost every single adult in this country) do have a cell phone and the ability to text. Sadly though, these phones are usually not “smart” and thus cannot receive email.
Hopefully this helps to clarify some of the reasons ParentEdge just works when compared to other less user friendly messaging programs out there. It is designed to work in schools today and remove all barriers to success. We've got some great stuff on the way in the near future so stay tuned and give ParentEdge a try in your school. It will help more than any other communication program you have ever tried.