Display dates from ParentPaperwork in your school’s online calendar

ParentPaperwork provides a calendar feed of the dates you select on Parent Slips, making it easy to display dates in your school’s online calendar, or the individual calendars of staff.

The dates are those you enter on Parent Slips.

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The Calendar Feed is configured from the Settings page. Click your user name at the top right, click Settings and then the Calender Feed option.

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Set ‘Enable calendar feed’ to ‘Yes’ and click Save.

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You will now see a URL for the Feed. This can be used in Google and other online calendars. For example in Google Calendar click the Other Calendars option on the left of the screen and select Add by URL.

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Copy and paste the URL from ParentPaperwork and click Add Calendar

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The dates will now display in your calendar, if you are using Google you can even then embed a Google Calendar view into your own web site.

How to be a Good Digital Citizen: a guide for teachers and students

Navigating the online world can be a bit of a minefield, even for us adults, so when it comes to teaching the next generation how to survive in a technology-driven society, it can be difficult to know just where to begin.

There is a lot of information out there about the negative side effects of technology. Articles warn of it changing the way children think or feel, putting their privacy and safety at risk and even the possibilities of overuse leading to obesity. But when it comes to the Internet, our gadgets and how we interact with them, maybe some morality needs to come into play? We all need to be good digital citizens to promote responsible use of technology.

Good digital citizenship is all about the quality of behaviour that we display online, both kids and adults need new skills to behave safely and responsibly in the digital landscape. Preventing kids from accessing unsuitable material online through filters is an uphill battle. Instead,  teach them to understand the digital world and act responsibly within it.

Being a good citizen online follows the same basic rules as good citizenship offline.

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More than just online safety

Often when we read about students and their digital lives, the focus is on safety and civility online, teaching them not to engage in cyberbullying, or to give out personal information or post anything that may come back to haunt them. But being a good digital citizen goes beyond this; promoting the use of a sophisticated set of skills that allows full participation in the worldwide online conversation.

Joseph Kahne, Professor of Education at Mills College in Oakland, CA, and Chairman of the MacArthur Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, says we need to broaden our ideas about digital citizenship and give kids a little more credit:

“One of the challenges and important priorities for K-12 today has to be broadening our understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen,” he says. “So that we’re talking about young people as producers and managers of information and perspectives, and not simply as people we need to keep safe and civil.”

The 9 elements of digital citizenship

There are a lot of little rules that can be followed to make our online lives a lot easier. Through its digital citizenship site, the International Society for Technology in Education has made it simpler for us by identifying a framework of 9 key themes of digital citizenship that teachers and students can use to promote responsible online interactions.

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  1. Digital Access
    Not everyone has the same access to technology. Digital citizenship starts by promoting equal digital rights and supporting electronic access for everybody. No one should be denied digital access.
  1. Digital Commerce
    The Internet provides an open marketplace of almost any product, some of which can be in conflict with local laws or societal norms (such as pornography and gambling). Digital citizens need to understand this economy and become effective consumers within it. 
  1. Digital Communication
    The digital revolution has also been a communication revolution, and we can now be in constant contact with almost anyone around the world. Good digital citizenship means making appropriate decisions around our communication options. 
  1. Digital Literacy
    Technology is present in all aspects of our lives. Although a lot is taught at schools, there are many technologies in workplaces that are not. Digital citizens need to learn how to adapt to new technologies quickly and understand how these systems work. 
  1. Digital Etiquette
    There are many online who act inappropriately, some by choice but others by not understanding the etiquette of the digital space. Some spaces ban users for this behaviour but, to be a good digital citizen, we have to learn these rules and know what is appropriate and when. 
  1. Digital Law
    Just like in the real world, stealing and damaging other people’s work or identity or property is a crime. Every country has its own laws regarding online crime but good citizenship means having responsibility for actions and deeds, and being aware of the legalities of your behaviour. 
  1. Digital Rights & Responsibilities
    There are freedoms online that are extended to everyone in the digital world, such as privacy and free speech. With these rights come responsibilities, and good digital citizens must use technology in an appropriate manner and understand their own accountability for what they do online.
  1. Digital Health & Wellness
    From bad ergonomics, strain and eye safety to psychological issues such as Internet addiction and the effects of cyberbullying, digital citizens need to be taught how to protect themselves from dangers posed from online interactions. 
  1. Digital Security
    Our personal property and identity can be in as much danger online as off from people that steal, deface or destroy. As a responsible digital citizen, it is up to us to put the locks on our virtual doors and minimise our possibility of becoming a target of crime.

Digital citizenship can be a tricky concept for us to get our heads around but, when broken down into these elements, we can see the parallels to the real world.

Being a responsible digital citizen is important not only for students to learn but also teachers. Understanding these concepts can help us lead the way for the next generation and open the door for more positive online interactions.

And remember…

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Clutch of improvements and enhancements now available in ParentPaperwork

At its heart ParentPaperwork is the sum of suggestions and recommendations from our school customers. Today we’ve released a group of small improvements and enhancements – all of which have come about through feedback from our schools.

File uploading warning

You can upload any number of PDF files to a Slip to make them available to Parents, perfect for information sheets, brochures, camp packing lists. However, if you select a number of files to upload, it’s been possible to click the Save button for the Slip before all the files had completed uploading. And thus lose the files. We’ve added a warning that prevents you from saving a Slip until all file uploads are done.

Disable Parent Contact updates

Many schools value the opportunity to solicit contact updates from parents when they are completing online forms, using the box at the bottom of the Slip. It can be a great way of keeping your contact lists refreshed.

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However, some schools have expressed concerns that parents might come to rely on this as a way of communicating a contact update – and unless the school has a process in place to manage these changes, the information might not be actioned.

We have added an option to disable the display of the Parent Contact fields on all Slips you send out. Click on your user name at the top right, then click Settings > Configuration.

The option is called ‘Allow Contacts to update details’.

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Display SMS credits

We introduced SMS text notifications earlier this year, and they have proven very popular with schools. Whilst response rates to our email notifications are excellent, SMS messages provide another way of prompting parents to click through and complete their forms. Plus of course SMS messages can be sent via our Broadcasts feature.

What we neglected to do was provide a way for schools to monitor their SMS usage, so we have added this information to the Configuration page.

Click on your user name at the top right, then click Settings > Configuration, your current SMS credits purchased and used are displayed in your subscription information at the top of the page.

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Print all Parent Responses for a Slip

ParentPaperwork’s mission in life is to replace paper forms in schools. However, we are conscious that many schools must operate within legacy policies, and that a move to being fully online might need to be introduced incrementally.

We have been asked a number of times recently if it is possible to print all the Responses submitted by Parents. Up until now you have only been able to print one at a time, by clicking to view the individual Response and then clicking the Print button.

We have added a new button at the top of the Slip Responses called ‘Print Slips’. This will open a new window, with all of the information submitted by Parents, one Slip at a time. It does not display the School fields, just those completed by parents. Whilst the on-screen display is continuous, when you print to paper or PDF it should break each Slip onto a new page.

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Continuous scrolling on Student Lists

The lists of Slips, Students and Parents all automatically scroll through pages as you move down the page, saving you to have to deliberately click to the next page. We’ve added this to the Student Lists page as well – as more schools use ParentPaperwork more intensively we’ve noticed they are creating more and more Student Lists.

Prevent use of a Form Template with no fields allocated

There’s been a piece of weirdness floating around for ages – you click to add a new Slip and select a Form Template, but everything stops. Turns out it’s because whilst you might have created the Form Template, you have not used the Form Design page to add any fields. Now if a Form Template does not have any fields allocated it will not be displayed on the Select Template list, plus there’s a red triangle warning on the Form Templates page.

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Don’t forget, we love hearing your feedback and ideas, don’t hesitate to contact the ParentPaperwork team!

 

 

A Schooling in Green: printing

The humble printer and photocopier can be a mini blackhole when it comes to expenses.

Many of us have worked in offices where the printing room is an unsupervised hotbed of wasted paper and ink. But, when it comes to schools, often the amount of wastage is multiplied, thanks to unnecessary printing of resources that could be handled electronically.

We’ve looked previously at the monetary costs associated with printing in school environments, which quoted Microsoft’s Education Marketing Manager Ray Fleming, who stated that schools often spend more on printing than they do on IT:

“An average school will use 1m sheets of paper a year and spend £60,000 (AUD $120k) on photocopying but only £56,000 (AUD $110k) on IT.”

The environmental cost of this amount of paper use is startling enough, but when we consider the additional burden of disposing of printer toner and ink cartridges, we can start to understand the immense size of the problem.

According to not-for-profit Australian environmental foundation, Planet Ark, Australians throw away more than 18 million printer cartridges every year. This equates to over 5,000 tonnes of non-biodegradable material that ends up as landfill. Compounding the issue is the fact that, when these cartridges break apart, they can potentially contaminate groundwater and the environment.

In the UK, it is estimated only 15% of the 65 million printer cartridges sold each year are recycled.

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For your health

Another often-ignored danger of printing is the affect it can have on your health.

Toner ink can contain carcinogens such as ‘carbon black’ – a dust that isn’t exposed during normal use but can be released if a cartridge is mishandled, and they can also emit carbon monoxide when overheated or place in poorly ventilated areas.

Studies have looked into the effects of sitting in close proximity to a printer and found there is a possibility of illness from spending long periods of time near printers, especially if not set up or used properly.

What can be done?

Thankfully, there is a lot that schools can do to help the environment when it comes to printing.

In Australia, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is a recycling program for toner and ink cartridges that has collected and recycled over 28 million cartridges since its inception. The program offers collection bins for schools that use a lot of cartridges and have drop-off points at many participating stores. They also have competitions for schools that participate, offering prizes made from cartridges they have recycled.

Also in Australia and the US, Close the Loop is a recycling program that turns used cartridges into products as diverse as pens, garden benches and even tarmac. In the US alone, the program has recovered close to 69,000 tonnes of material that otherwise would have gone to landfill. They too offer collection boxes for cartridge recovery.

In the US, most major ink and toner cartridge manufacturers will also offer a service to collect and recycle your used cartridges. In the UK, companies such as The Recycling Factory and Recycling 4 Charity will take your used cartridges, and even have programs aimed at schools.

There are many options when it comes to staying green within your school. Creating a program to collect and recycle your ink and toner cartridges is something simple that can have a huge positive impact on the environment. Of course, finding ways to reduce your use of printers and photocopiers should always be the first step in any attempt to make your school more sustainable.

Ask us how the ParentPaperwork system is contributing to environmental sustainability in schools.

ParentPaperwork now integrates with Denbigh School Administration system

We’re pleased to advise ParentPaperwork now integrates to the Denbigh School Administration system.

Denbigh is a terrific Australian company which specialises in the development of customised administration solutions for educational institutions and other enterprises throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

The new integration means ParentPaperwork can automatically import parent and student data directly from Denbigh, without the need for manual data handling.

We schedule the data sync each night, so any changes you’ve made to parent or student records in Denbigh will automatically transfer to ParentPaperwork. We can also bring over co-curricular activity information to make creating Student Lists in ParentPaperwork really easy.

If you are using Denbigh, we’d love to show you how ParentPaperwork can benefit your school!

ParentPaperwork uses GroupCall’s Xporter system to automate the update of data from your SIMS or CMIS school management database

We’ve recently brought on board our first schools using GroupCall‘s XPorter system to automate the update of data from their SIMS and CMIS school management systems to our platform.

Groupcall Xporter provides an automated solution to securely collect and deliver data to a chosen location or system. The system allows Local Authorities, Academy Groups and 3rd party organisations to define what data is collected and how frequently. Xporter runs in each school to extract the required information from the MIS system and transfer it securely and in a uniform format to the desired location regardless of the source MIS type.

The solution is currently installed in over 17,000 UK schools and is used by over 65 Education Authorities and academy groups, as well as being the data provisioning agent for over 60 3rd party commercial customers – including ParentPaperwork. Once installed, the Xporter client requires no further maintenance as its built-in update facility ensures it is never more than 3-4 hours out of sync with the very latest version of your data extraction specification.

Xporter integration is a fantastic feature of ParentPaperwork. It means that any of the 17,000 schools around the UK and the world using Xporter don’t need to worry about manually handling parent and student contact information -each night Xporter sends us your current parent and student contacts, so any changes you’ve made in SIMS or CMIS are automatically transferred to ParentPaperwork.

Is your school using SIMS or CMIS? Please contact us for more information about how ParentPaperwork + Xporter = easy to use online forms!