Schools doing great things – WCCC

Windsor Community Children’s Centre Co-op Ltd (WCCC)
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Windsor Community Children’s Centre Co-op Ltd (WCCC) started life 40 years ago as Swinburne Prahran Community Children’s Centre Co-op – a centre for children of staff and mature-aged students at Prahran TAFE in Melbourne. Across those four decades, they’ve weathered many storms in a turbulent Australian childcare sector but remained community-focused as a parent-managed, not-for-profit service.

Director Rose Kelly took ParentPaperwork on a tour and answered some questions about early childhood education and care, both now and into the future, while Assistant Director of WCCC Deanne Andoniou tells how ParentPaperwork fits into the picture.

ParentPaperwork: As someone fully involved in the childcare sector, what are the biggest changes you believe have occurred in childcare in Australia since the establishment of WCCC 40 years ago?

Rose Kelly: “The most significant change from then until now is probably that the whole landscape of early childhood education and care (ECEC) has evolved from a service that provided a place where parents could leave their children so they could work and/or study to now being recognised for the positive impacts on young children’s lives in terms of brain development, socialisation and learning. The reforms around the sector have also changed a lot for the better as well, especially in terms of educator training and quality services.”

WCCC is viewed as a leader in your sector. What do you think are the strongest issues facing the childcare?

“The strongest issue would be affordability for families, especially our most vulnerable.”

Childcare work is still not compensated commensurate with the work involved and the impact on young lives at their earliest point. Do you see a way to make that change meaningfully?

“I believe the only way is for the federal government to subsidise childcare. There is so much national and international research around about the benefits of ECEC. When we improve programs and services that help all children to be healthy, to get a good education and to contribute to our collective prosperity, we all benefit.”

WCCC has a student to childcare worker ratio that is way more favourable for children than government requirements. Why?

“To provide high quality care for children. Research also indicates that smaller numbers of groupings of children is better for them in terms of learning and stress. It also creates a much more enjoyable working environment for the educators.”

It’s impressive how your children get an on-premises cooked lunch everyday and you have a cook who is clearly very much part of the team. How does eating a meal together, or the same meal together, influence the culture at the centre?

“Food is often the cornerstone of many cultures and it creates a very rich community social experience. We get to enjoy good company and eat delicious food.”

What are the key learning values of the centre? What is your teaching approach?

“We want each child to be able to learn and develop in their own way. We want them to be inquisitive and wonder. We want them to engage with others and be inclusive. We do not subscribe to any particular teaching approach. Where we provide play-based learning, it is rich in intention and content.”

What is the highlight of running Windsor CCC?

“The educators. I admire them for their constant dedication and willingness to strive for better outcomes for children, and forever growing their own professional and personal development. Also, the community involvement of our families for running the service – it is a partnership that I really value.”

In celebrating 40 years in the childcare space, what do you think lies ahead?

“That’s an interesting question. I think we will see changes in the sector again, about what society will value in terms of ECEC. I am hoping that stricter reforms will come into play around ECEC being viewed as a profitable business.”

It’s great how you ask children for permission to use their photo, not just parental permission. Maybe you can elaborate a bit on how you help children learn about rights?

“We aspire to Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics, and we talk a lot to children about their rights and the rights of others. We try to, in all circumstances, give the children their own voice to be heard and respected.”

What’s the best thing about WCCC being around for 40 years?

“That we are serving the community by helping local families and, through all the years, it has maintained a not-for-profit parent-managed service. With demands on people’s times, I am hopeful that we can still be around for another 40 years.”

And speaking to Deanne Andoniou:

What do you specifically use ParentPaperwork for at Windsor CCC?

Deanne Andoniou:To maximise efficiency and responses from families and to offer families a quick and easy method to communicate back with the centre. ParentPaperwork sits in-line with our strong philosophy of sustainability and being conscious of our environmental footprint. We are able to view which families have not opened up an email or responded to an email sent. It means we can touch base with those families individually and offer a friendly reminder / support.”

What do parents think about using it?

“Our parent survey had the highest level of participation (65.9% response rate) in comparison to using a survey software last year. ParentPaperwork was their preferred method of communication from the centre. They find it easy to respond immediately with a click of a button on their smart phones or computers.”

How much time and/or energy would you guess you reclaim by using ParentPaperwork?

“I would say, on average, ParentPaperwork has saved me two hours per broadcast/parent-slip/school-form sent. This is inclusive of follow-up emails and so on.”

Why would a childcare centre want to go down the path of using technologies such as ParentPaperwork?

“To be sustainable and environmentally-conscious. Also, the response time and level of participation from families is significantly greater.”

windsorccc.org.au

5 emerging trends to help schools stay on top of the technology avalanche: Part One

Written by ParentPaperwork’s Business Development Director, Sam Sapuppo

What can a 30-year veteran of school leadership possibly learn in two years of working for an edtech startup, ParentPaperwork? I surprised even myself.

We all know the bugbear of working in a school: everyone went to school, or knows someone who went to school, so everyone is an expert. Parents have also begun looking at and comparing schools through a business process lens. This aspect provides further and sometimes conflicting pressures but also wonderful opportunities. I would encourage all of us to use this window of opportunity to explore everything that enables a school to use its most precious commodities – staff time, finance and natural resources – to the best of its ability.

In this environment, the role of leadership in a school is to distil and discern lessons that can be learnt, and processes that can be built upon from business and community enterprises; to help the school work smarter and be overall more effective.

With 500 schools in eight countries, my recent edtech experiences have seen me work daily with a microcosm of the global school community and the vagaries that this environment throws up. This includes the multitude of student and learning management systems, communication platforms, websites, school budgets, processes and skill-sets.

All of us are working to assist staff who have varying degrees of digital skills. This is the easier obstacle to overcome. The more difficult issue is dealing with the cultural resistance – or indifference – to the introduction of yet another new technology in a school.

As a cautionary observation, I believe it is not just a school staff issue. The other side of the coin is the glaring and frustrating thing schools universally face; that is, the speed of technological and product change, and the time and expertise required to stay on top of it. What I hear from IT directors and principals is: how do you deal with the growth of problem-solving startup companies with their superior adaptability and versatility of software design? There is something new every day and it is just easier to do nothing.

In my particular case, as a team at ParentPaperwork, we are group of experienced:

  • Entrepreneurs – who have serious solution building experience;
  • IT engineers – with UX experience;
  • School leaders, administrators and teachers;
  • Marketing and sales professionals; and very importantly
  • Parents of school-aged children.

In our mind, we are trying to help schools work smarter rather than harder – a phrase that is very easy to roll off the tongue but much more difficult to achieve in practice. We are not egotistical enough to think we are the only ones doing this, or that we have the best way to solve it all. We do however believe we are an essential component, not just because of the solution we produce but because of the WAY we are going about our solution.

Smart schools have always understood that people come first. Whether it’s their staff, students or parents, the ‘primacy of people’ ethos remains no less fundamental in the age of digital integration. I dare not use the term ‘digital disruption’ in the education space. Indeed, it may be argued it has never been more critical to a school’s success.

Digital integration is making every school face up to the challenge of embracing and managing change. It is also an opportunity to re-engage with communities, drive innovation, reduce costs and boost efficiency.

So what are the five most important emerging trends that smart schools are using when building their IT ecosystems? We’ve identified the following:

  1. The user experiences should be front and centre of all thinking and planning.
  1. All programs and systems need to be interoperable.
  1. The benefits that new programs and processes employ are the key drivers for a decision, not the cost. Think: can we afford NOT to employ this new program and/or process?
  1. Staff time and data to assist with decision-making are now the two most valuable assets a school owns. Every new program and system that is deployed should address this new focus.
  1. Continuous improvement needs to be mandatory and non-intrusive.

Coming up, an in-depth look at these five trends – 5 emerging trends to help schools stay on top of the technology avalanche: Part 2

 

MEDIA RELEASE: ParentPaperwork at CommunicAsia 2017

Leading Australian education technology company ParentPaperwork is excited to be exhibiting at CommunicAsia 2017, the 28th International Communications and Information Technology Exhibition Conference in Singapore 23 to 25 May.

Every parent, teacher and administrator in every school in the world knows the pain of paper forms. Permission slips, lunch orders, surveys, consents, detention notices – K-12 schools, kinders and ELC’s use paper forms for hundreds of activities and tasks every year – the average school sends 30 or more paper forms home for each student in a year.

Paper forms are an enormous cost and labour drain for schools whose budgets are already stretched to breaking, plus a huge cost to the environment. Paper, copying, distribution, the endless inevitable chasing of non-returned forms and the collating and reporting of thousands upon thousands of pieces of information are all a waste of staff time and money.

ParentPaperwork is easily the most comprehensive, fully featured, administration data capture, management and reporting platform for K-12 schools, kinders and ELC’s in the world. ParentPaperwork replaces all the paper forms and moves them to a secure cloud-based online platform, with every form for every student available at the click of your mouse.

Hundreds of schools in eight countries now use ParentPaperwork to send online forms to their parents, and capture and report the responses – and see huge savings in time and money and improvements in liability management as a result.

The ParentPaperwork suite includes:

  • Broadcasts – One way messages and alerts to parents via SMS and Email
  • Parent Slips – Replace paper forms between existing parents and your school
  • Student Slips – Empower students within the administrative process
  • Absentee Slips – The new generation of student absentee notifications
  • Admin and Enrolment Slips – Free up your staff’s administrative time whilst better ensuring compliance

Recently ParentPaperwork announced the launch of its most important new feature in twelve months – sending online forms to Students. Sports registrations, subject electives selection, school council elections, student surveys; and prefect voting – all can now be handled via ParentPaperwork.

ParentPaperwork integrates with a wide range of other education technology products and is especially proud to partner with leading K-12 software company Schoolbox. The partnership sees ParentPaperwork fully integrated into the Schoolbox parent portal to provide one destination for all of a parent’s interaction with their school. The seamless integration between the two platforms enables parents to view and complete school forms and slips online.

ParentPaperwork’s CEO Ms Fiona Boyd says:

“Traditional paper-based processes are quite simply broken and no longer workable in today’s world, where accountability, risk management and statutory compliance are critical issues for school leaders globally. ParentPaperwork provides your school with a robust, secure system to replace all your paper forms.

ParentPaperwork integrates with a school’s existing software such as their student information database and learning management system to provide a seamless experience for parents.

With the launch of our new forms to Students functionality I can confidently say ParentPaperwork is easily the most comprehensive, fully featured administration data capture, management and reporting platform for K-12 schools in the world.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss digitisation with schools in Singapore at CommunicAsia, with the Singapore Government recently embarking on a significant program to make public services more accessible and productive through better use of technology, such as through the digitisation of government records.”

ParentPaperwork will be exhibiting as part of the Victorian Government’s Trade Delegation to CommunicAsia at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore 23 – 25 May 2017.

How does ParentPaperwork import data?

ParentPaperwork manages a significant amount of data from schools. This post is a summary of how the data is imported and the various options and features. It is designed to be read by school ICT staff and database administrators to gain an overview understanding of our import modules and processes. For further information or assistance please contact support@parentpaperwork.com.

What Student Information Systems (SIS) does ParentPapework work with?

ParentPaperwork has ingested data from student information systems including:

  • CoolSIS
  • Denbigh
  • KAMAR
  • MAZE
  • PC School
  • SAS
  • SchoolPro
  • SEEMiS
  • SIMS
  • Skyward
  • Synergetic
  • TASS
  • Tyler

How does ParentPaperwork Acquire Data?

Data is obtained by ParentPaperwork in a variety of ways:

  1. Direct SQL database connection
  2. Pulled from remote API
  3. FTP pushed to ParentPaperwork
  4. Files pushed to ParentPaperwork’s Files API

We really don’t mind how the data is acquired and we are happy to work with a school or a provider to find the best and most efficient method. No matter how the data is acquired it is brought into our import system in a common format and centrally processed by a set of modules that handle various aspects of the data.

How frequently do we update imported data?

Almost always we update data from imported sources on a daily basis. We have the engineering capability and capacity for a higher frequency, but we figure a second-by-second update in real time is not necessary, schools are comfortable that if they make a change in their SIS one day it will be in ParentPaperwork the next day.

What data do we import?

At a minimum we import the data necessary for ParentPaperwork to operate:

Students

  • studentId (the unique identifier from your system for the student)
  • firstName
  • lastName
  • className (this will be the Student List they are allocated to initially)

Parents

  • parentId (the unique identifier from your system for the parent)
  • studentId (so we can link parent -> student)
  • firstName
  • lastName
  • email
  • mobile phone (only if you are using our optional Two Factor Authentication system or want SMS notifications enabled)

Additionally we can import further data:

Student Attributes

Student Attributes are user-defined fields in the ParentPaperwork Student record, a school can have an unlimited number of Attributes defined, and we can import data to these fields. Student Attributes are able to be used as fields on ParentPaperwork forms; when the parent opens their form the fields will be pre-populated with the values we are holding. When the parent submits the form the Attributes in the Student record will be updated. We also offer a range of exports including one we nickname ‘just the things that changed’, a list of Students, their Attributes and only the values that were updated as part of the form submission. This makes Student Attributes ideal for tasks such as annual student record updates.

Student Lists

Obviously students don’t just fall into one group at school, there are home rooms, tutor groups, subject classes, sports teams. We can import these to ParentPaperwork to Student Lists so these groups are available. Some larger schools consequently have several hundred Student Lists.

Staff Users

We can keep the Users in ParentPaperwork updated with changes in the school SIS. Generally we are not able to access passwords from the SIS, which means this is only useful in a couple of scenarios:

  1. The school needs the Users in ParentPaperwork to be able to send the staff notifications about forms, for example to cc a read only copy of a Parent Slip. The staff member is not required to log into ParentPaperwork.
  2. The school is using single sign on (SSO) to ParentPaperwork, either Google or Office 365, and does not want automatic user creation enabled in ParentPaperwork (where we allow anyone who is authorised via the SSO to access ParentPaperwork. By syncing in a list of Staff we can restrict access to ParentPaperwork to just the list of Staff the school provides via the import.

What is the import logic?

Our foundation view is that the source of truth for a school’s data is its SIS, so ParentPaperwork needs to as closely mirror that as possible. We are also very conscious that there can be some complicated family situations that are liable to change from time to time, so keeping ParentPaperwork in sync with those is important.

The following describes the import logic we use for each type of data.

Students

  • Check if there are any student records in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork
  • If the records are new Students, add them to ParentPaperwork
  • If the records are existing Students, update the changes to ParentPaperwork
  • Clear Students from any Student List named in the import that already exists in ParentPaperwork
  • Update Students from the import to the Student Lists named in the import
  • Optionally – clear students from any Student List created via import at any time, this deals with schools that don’t wish to maintain legacy Student Lists, it’s also useful for rollover at the beginning of a school year when we need to reset all Lists previously imported
  • Optionally – mark any Students currently in ParentPaperwork as inactive that are not contained in the import – marking them inactive removes Students from default views and lists and means they and their parents cannot be sent forms. Very useful for preserving data to comply with document retention policies whilst ensuring the Students are not visible day to day unless specifically searched for

Student Attributes

  • Check for Student Attribute names in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork, and create new Student Attributes on the school account
  • Update the Students with the values for those Attributes
  • Check if there are any Attribute values in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork and update the Student records
  • Note we log these changes as having come from an import, so we can differentiate with changes made via a User in ParentPaperwork, or a Parent submitting a form, so we can still generate exports of user/parent updates

Parent Contacts

  • Check if there are any Parent Contacts records in the import that are different to those in ParentPaperwork
  • If the records are new Contacts, add them to ParentPaperwork and link them to the relevant Students
  • If the records are existing Contacts, update the changes to ParentPaperwork, examine the existing links to Students already in ParentPaperwork, and if different to the import, update
  • Optionally – mark any Parent Contacts currently in ParentPaperwork as inactive that are not contained in the import – marking them inactive removes Contacts from default views and lists and means they cannot be sent forms. Very useful for preserving data to comply with document retention policies whilst ensuring the Contacts are not visible day to day unless specifically searched for

Student Lists

  • Check the import for any new Student List names, create these Lists in ParentPaperwork and assign the relevant Students
  • Check the import for any Student List names that already exist in ParentPaperwork, clear the Students already assigned to the List and update with the Students from the import

How are imported records are displayed in ParentPaperwork?

Records that have been created via import are shown in ParentPaperwork with an icon and the text ‘Imported Record’.

Optionally, if a school chooses, we can enable a feature that warns a User attempting to edit a record with a popup message to let them know any changes they make might be overwritten by a subsequent import.

Can you prevent imported records being edited by Users?

We have a feature that can be enabled which prevents any adding or editing of Students, Student Lists and Parent Contacts by Users logged into ParentPaperwork. This was developed for schools who do not want any changes to records to be made in ParentPaperwork, rather only in the SIS and thence imported into ParentPaperwork.

Can I check if my imports are running?

When logged into ParentPaperwork click your User Name at the top right and select Integration Log. This will display a list of imports with date, source (for example your SIS) and the number of records processed.

 

Parents can now manage their ParentPaperwork forms inside Schoolbox

We are now pleased to advise ParentPaperwork is now integrated with leading Australian learning management system Schoolbox, for parents to view and complete their online forms.

Parent portals are an increasing part of a school’s technology stack, it makes sense to concentrate a parent’s online interaction with their children’s school into a single point of contact. There’s nothing calculated to drive parents up the wall more than telling them they need to register and sign into a plethora of web sites.

This is a major reason why ParentPaperwork is not a ‘destination’ for parents. They might click our online form links, but we don’t require them to create an account or sign in. Instead we see ParentPaperwork as a piece of infrastructure a school can integrate with and deploy into their existing technology stack.

Schools Love Schoolbox

Schools love Schoolbox, and we do too. It’s a fantastic Melbourne-made software-as-a-service LMS, built by a group of talented people who are determined to create the best possible set of tools for K-12 schools.

schoolbox-pp

The integration set up is simple and there is no cost to your school. Parents can click a link in the Schoolbox portal and view a history of previously submitted forms, plus complete new forms. If you have our Admin and Enrolment Forms module they can even create their own new forms.

schoolbox-pp2

A Terrific Triumvirate

Don’t forget, if you also have the Digistorm schoolAPP, ParentPaperwork integrates to that as well. It’s a fantastic triumvirate – ParentPaperwork + Schoolbox + Digistorm schoolApp. Terrific convenience for your parents, reduced workload for school staff.

Parents can now use the Digistorm schoolAPP for Schoolbox to receive and submit online forms

A key goal for us at ParentPaperwork is ensure we are a cooperative part of the education technology landscape, and a signature strategy towards that goal is promoting interoperability between ParentPaperwork and other high quality products.

Many schools in Australia, and increasingly overseas, use the Schoolbox learning management system. And many of them use the terrific Digistorm schoolAPP for Schoolbox.

We are pleased to announce that ParentPaperwork is now fully integrated with the Digistorm schoolAPP.

When a message is sent to parents advising there is a new Slip for them to complete, this is also delivered as an in-app notification to their phone. Then when they open their app they have all their childrens’ ParentPaperwork forms at their finger tips, both previously completed ones, and forms yet to the submitted.

The new Slips can be completed and submitted right there inside the app. The ease of use and convenience is fantastic.

Notifications

When a new Slip is sent  to parents, a notification will show on their phone. They can tap the notification to open the Digistorm app and complete the form.

App Menus

A new menu option is displayed in the Digistorm app.

Tapping this link will open a list of Students with a count of any outstanding Slips for each.

Tapping the name of a Student will open a list of Slips, with incomplete ones at the top (highlighted with a red dot), and completed Slips at the bottom (green dot).

Tapping a Slip name will open the online form from ParentPaperwork directly in the app browser window, so a Slip can be completed and submitted, or viewed if it has already been submitted.

There is no cost for a school to use the ParentPaperwork integration to the Digistorm schoolApp. Just contact our Support Team to arrange for the connection between ParentPaperwork and Digistorm to be configured.

 

 

 

New webinars to help you get the most out of ParentPaperwork

Part of my role at ParentPaperwork is supporting our existing customers to experience the best value possible from the ParentPaperwork platform. Often schools will purchase ParentPaperwork with a particular goal in mind, but then overtime they come to appreciate that the platform can assist the school in so many more ways.

My experience includes 25 years in leadership roles, including Deputy Principal in a leading Melbourne independent school, and now as part of the ParentPaperwork team this has placed me in a unique position to understand how schools can maximise the benefits across the whole school’s operations using ParentPaperwork.

With many of our schools now having used ParentPaperwork for over 12 months and mastered their basic needs, the major questions that we are now fielding from everyone one … “Is this the best way to do what I need to be doing?”, “so what else can I do with the program?” and “what are all these new features I can see in the program?”

Schools are busy places and we understand fully that keeping up to date with improvement and new features is not easy. Time to explore is precious. This means that many of us, me included, cling onto the ways that we learnt to do things the first time.

With the assistance of many of our partner schools we have been  adding new modules and features to the suite of ParentPaperwork fairly consistently. All the new feature give you GREATER ABILITY/FACILITY, and SHORT CUTS to help you work more effectively.

We are introducing a weekly webinar starting in May, each will run for 45 minutes and cover a particular topic. We’ll be publishing dates and times soon so please look for our newsletter in your inbox or follow us on Twitter – @parentpaperwork.

The webinars will focus on:

  • Maximising the use and therefore the benefits of using ParentPaperwork
  • Increasing  your staff time savings, even more
  • Teaching you about more features in ParentPaperwork
  • Reconfirming that   your current process for sending a Slip is the best way to do it.

We will cover information for expert users, but mostly  the sessions will be for everyday users and administrators who want to reaffirm their processes, or knowledge of the ParentPaperwork program.

If you have a topic or question you want answered or included in the webinar series please email me at sam.sapuppo@parentpaperwork.com.

Send Slip and Broadcast notifications to school staff members

Communication within a school is very important, to ensure activities and resources are coordinated to the best possible effect. ParentPaperwork already significantly improves the availability and sharing of information throughout a school, starting with providing an aggregated view of all the online forms and broadcasts moving between school and parents and students, plus via our approval workflows and notifications.

We’ve now added a much-requested feature – sending notifications about Slips and Broadcasts to any nominated staff member, or groups of staff.

When you set up a new Slip or Broadcast you can nominate individual staff members or groups of staff to receive a notification that the message has been sent, along with a link to view the Slip or Broadcast.

In the ‘Send copy to Users/User Groups’ field start typing the name of a User or a User Group, and select the correct one from the drop down search results.

You can choose any number of Users and/or User Groups.

Select Users or User Groups

When the Slip or Broadcast is sent out, an email notification will now also be sent to all of the Users you have selected.

Email Notifications

The link in email will open to a read only preview of the Slip or Broadcast.

preview of the Slip or Broadcast

A new Analytics Dashboard for ParentPaperwork

The ParentPaperwork Dashboard has been completely overhauled with a new analytics-based version.

The new Dashboard concisely and elegantly displays key indicators providing you with the ability to analyse your data collection process.  It enables you to know “how things are going”, giving you insights and enabling you to track comparisons against a time series and global averages.

A key goal we believe should be that all parents return their ParentPaperwork forms by the Due Date. So the Dashboard gives you a number of measures:

  • What percentage of your Slips are returned within the first 24 hours, and how this compares to the global average across all our schools?
  • The average number of hours before a Slip is returned;
  • The percentage of your Slips that are returned by the Due Date;
  • The proportion of your parents who return their Slips by the Due Date.

dashboard

There are also metrics of interest to your school’s marketing and communications team, for example how many times a month are you sending Slips and Broadcasts to parents?

Plus we believe that environment considerations are super important so we’ve included analysis to give you a sense of the impact on the environment through your decision to implement ParentPaperwork.

Our Data Scientist Juan Daza has written a great blog post giving the details of how we assembled and created the analysis – really worth a read to gain an understanding of the techniques and thinking behind the statistics.

If your metrics are tracking below the global average there may be some strategies that can be deployed to improve the results – our team has a range of tips and tracks and we encourage you to contact us to discuss ideas. For example, enabling SMS notifications can often improve response rates.

Practical actions are still present on the new Dashboard, in the right hand column. You can start a new online form, and there are alerts for outstanding actions that are your responsibility. There’s also a new list of Slips at Due Date, highlighting Slips that are close to or just past their Due Date, with a quick check of the responses received so far.

The new Analytics Dashboard is available to all ParentPaperwork schools. If you still see the ‘old’ Dashboard after logging in, look for the Switch to new Analytics Dashboard link at the top right.

We welcome all of your feedback about the Dashboard or any aspect of ParentPaperwork. The Analytics Dashboard is the precursor to some very exciting new features around reporting and analytics you can expect from ParentPaperwork in the coming months.

Interning as a Data Scientist at ParentPaperwork

LinkedIn Photo
Juan Daza

University of Melbourne, Masters of Information Technology student Juan Daza shares his experience interning as a Data Scientist at ParentPaperwork across the Australian summer.

The University of Melbourne currently runs the Tin Alley internship program where students have the opportunity to apply to great companies in Victoria. Tin Alley has been named Australia’s best internship program and I was honored to be a part of this summer’s intake. One of the companies who gave students the opportunity to get hands on experience was ParentPaperwork and I have been working with the team in the role of Data Scientist.

In this blog post, I want to take you through part of my journey and ParentPaperwork’s goal to empower hundreds of schools with tools to make better informed decisions and more importantly, reach a 100% response rate from parents to slips.

I believe that the first step to make informed decisions is to have the facts and information at hand, which is why one of my main tasks was to assist in the development of the real-time analytical dashboard with key metrics for schools to understand their patterns of use and behaviours.

Data visualisation is a powerful tool in any Data Scientist’s tool box, so I set out to explore the data using Python and SQL and through multiple iterations develop simple yet powerful and self-explanatory visualisations.

I found key metrics that would allow schools to understand their current situation and trigger their curiosity. In conjunction with the team at ParentPaperwork I defined the following metrics.

    • Average response rate (AVR): This is defined as the number of parents who respond to the slips sent to them.
    • Average response time (AVT): The average time it takes parents to respond the slips received.
    • Slips returned by due date: The percentage of slips that are returned before the due date.
    • Timely parents: The number of parents that respond before the slip’s due date.
    • Total Number of forms and broadcast sent.I was mindful of the importance of having the right data displayed at the right time which is why I made sure that my data cleansing process was thorough.

In many cases, slips are sent to both parents and only one parent responds which means that if I calculated the response rate based on the available data, then the number would be biased because I would always have one responded slip and one unanswered slip. I had to develop some cleansing techniques to deal with this fact and get a clean and unique dataset from which I could query freely. I tested some powerful Python functions to wrangle ParentPaperwork’s large dataset and to find the correct dataset to achieve what I wanted to do.

I had to take additional considerations whilst analysing other metrics. As an example, while analysing the average response time from our parents I found an interesting fact. My calculations of the arithmetical average response time were of roughly 80 hours. This meant that on average, a parent responded to a slip every 80 hours or around 3 days. This is an amazing turnaround since paper based forms have a turnaround of around two weeks or more.

However, once I drilled down to the data I found some interesting insights. To look further into this, I set out to understand parents behaviour and I analyzed the response rate progression in the first 30 hours. I thought that the best way to do this was to visualise the behavior of this metric within the first hours of having sent it.

Reverse Burndown Chart

Figure 1. Completion Percentage per Time to Complete

We can clearly see how responses behave. At first, there are very timely parents that respond within a couple of hours and as time passes by, slips get more and more responses making the average response rate higher. Eventually it would reach the Global Average Response Rate which is around 75%

After this, I wanted to understand how many responses are received once the slips are sent. I developed a histogram to get an answer to this question.

Histogram

Figure 2. Response Frequency per Time to Respond

As it can be seen from the graph, parent responses have a very long tail, however most responses received occur in the first 30 hours of sending the slips. At the time of writing this article, around 60% of the responses were received during the initial 30 hours.

Taking this into account, I decided to calculate the weighted average based on the amount of responses received in each time slot. Using this method, I found an average of approximately 9 hours which is a very impressive number. Additional considerations such as night hours might be taken into account to adjust the average response time but in this instance, I will not go further into it.

Answers to many more questions were developed by following a thorough process where I drilled down in the data to find useful hints. I created groups of parents and found those who consistently respond late (or don’t respond) and determined based on the time of day what are the response times and response rates overall. All of these features will be rolling out gradually to help schools make better decisions. This comes to show how at ParentPaperwork various techniques are deployed to work towards making it a data driven organisation.

Stay tuned because over the coming months more news about the upcoming Data Analysis module will be released. The new Analytics Dashboard is now available to all ParentPaperwork schools.