Powering the Global Education Conversation: About EdCircuit

Why We Partnered with Schoology

An integrated effort to give all parents the opportunity to engage in their child’s education

by Jennifer Larson

If your school is like most others, you’ve likely dealt with a number of different frustrations around communications. How to make sure all teachers, coaches, and club leaders have the right tools and resources to communicate important information to parents. How to increase buy-in for your tools of choice so implementation and use are sustainable. How to find a solution that simplifies communications for both teachers and parents, so information received is easy to digest and actionable. How to better communicate about your initiatives so you can receive support from the broader school community. These are just a few of the common pain points we’ve heard from school leaders.

The SchoolBzz team, comprised of parents, educators and communications experts, have built our platform with a keen understanding of these frustrations in mind. By taking the time to deeply understand parents’ and educators’ needs around communications, we’ve set out to eliminate barriers to effective communication and help leaders foster a thriving school culture.

We recently took a major step forward in achieving these objectives by becoming a member of Schoology’s Certified Partner Program. Schoology is the leading K-12 learning management and assessment platform―used by millions of students, parents, faculty, and administrators every day―and through this partnership, SchoolBzz is now available to all Schoology district and school clients as a fully integrated add-on, giving districts the opportunity to enhance parent engagement with a simplified experience.

Why does this matter? We’ve learned from over four years of research into parents’ needs regarding school communications―including conversations with numerous parents and educators―that there are a number of pain points parents have encountered, and many of them can be traced back to the fact that school communication practices have been far too complicated and fragmented. The average high school student has up to eight different teachers, not including coaches and other extracurricular advisors. And it isn’t just high schoolers―with the increased focus on personalized learning, students at all levels have access to more educators. If a parent has more than one student in school, this can quickly add up to 20 or more different educators who have information to share. With each teacher using different tools―email, websites, social media, and various apps―there are too many places to track down information, and parents are left overwhelmed.

There’s plenty of evidence, however, that parents and educators have the same objectives. Parents want to be involved in their children’s education and schools want them to be involved. But, without the right communication practices in place, you don’t feel like you’re on the same page. When schools send out information through a number of different, fragmented channels, it becomes challenging, if not impossible, for parents to find the right information at the right time and take action. As a result, educators see a lack of response from parents and believe that parents either aren’t interested in the information or don’t want to get involved.

Fortunately, the issue is communication, not interest―and communication can be fixed. Until now, there hasn’t been an effective solution to these concerns, which is why we’ve focused on providing a whole-school solution that aggregates all parent information in one place. We aim to help schools reduce the number of tools an educator uses to communicate. For teachers, for example, this can mean turning their LMS into a communications tool by taking advantage of SchoolBzz integration, instead of using email, a website, or an additional app to push out the same information.

Our partnership with Schoology is an important step toward closing the gap between schools and families and truly giving all parents the opportunity to engage. There are a number of reasons we’ve become a Schoology Certified Partner to improve school communications and tap into the impact this improvement can have on learning, but here are three of the big ones:

1. Support student achievement―There is an abundance of evidence demonstrating that higher levels of parent involvement are positively correlated with student achievement; and the best way to increase involvement is for the school to communicate effectively with all parents. By partnering with the nation’s leading LMS, we can extend the opportunity to more school leaders to create a streamlined communication solution that gives more parents access to school information, and therefore provides more students with an equitable opportunity to receive their parents’ support in all aspects of their education.

2. Make communications more practical for schools and educators―Managing multiple apps and tools is complicated for parents, but it can be equally challenging for your teachers. If teachers don’t know whether parents prefer information on social media, via email, or by visiting a website, they have to keep each channel up to date. The Schoology-SchoolBzz integrated solution changes that necessity by ensuring all communications can be sent through one tool. And, with the platforms being fully integrated, the teacher doesn’t even have to learn SchoolBzz―all updates sent through Schoology are automatically sent to parents through the SchoolBzz app, with no additional steps required by the teacher.

3. Make access to information more equitable for families―By combining the platform managing students’ academic progress with the overall school communication platform, your school will make classroom updates much easier for parents to access. Through the SchoolBzz app, parents have a personalized experience, in which they can subscribe to their chosen channels, ensuring they get the information they want, when they want it, and know what actions to take to engage. Updates parents can receive include a list of all upcoming and past due homework and projects for the course sections relevant to their child. Further, because parents can personalize their updates, they can receive the information they need without being overwhelmed by other irrelevant updates. More benefits were introduced through a new integration with Amazon Translate, which enables parents to choose a preferred primary language for updates and assignments pushed to the SchoolBzz app, expanding the opportunity for all families to engage with their child’s education.

Our mission at SchoolBzz is to facilitate effective school-to-parent communication so that every parent has the timely, relevant information necessary to engage with and support their child’s education. It’s a relatively simple goal, but not one that’s easy to achieve. Becoming a Schoology Certified Partner is an exciting way to collaborate with schools nationwide to take strides toward this goal, extending to hundreds of thousands of parents the opportunity to engage with their child’s education, and to support schools in creating a thriving culture of communication among parents, teachers, and administrators.

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