Parents can now ‘sign’ ParentPaperwork’s online forms

Today we are pleased to launch a new feature for our Parent Slips, enabling you to capture a signature from parents when they submit their online forms.

The vast majority of ParentPaperwork schools do not require a parent to physically sign a form. Ever increasingly there is less and less need to actually sign something. In some countries signatures for credit card payments have been discontinued, and with the advent of online transactions and interactions a ‘consent’ or ‘authorisation’ is deemed to have been given through the action of selecting certain options on a web page and submitting the page.

However, we recognise that there is not one common standard, and with schools in seven countries using ParentPaperwork we have now added the capacity to capture a signature from parents.

The signature feature is configurable for each Parent Slip you create, so you can choose to use it for some and not others. You will see the Require Graphic Signature option below the parent fields section. Select Yes if you wish to require parents to provide a signature.

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When the parent clicks through to their form a signature box will be visible. On a computer or laptop they can sign their name using their mouse.

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On a mobile device such as a phone or tablet with a touchscreen they sign their name using their figure.

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Once they have signed and submitted the form you will see the signature when you view the form.

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Organise ParentPaperwork Slips and Forms into Folders

A common request from ParentPaperwork schools has a way to organise Slips and Forms into Folders. For quite a while we have had the ‘Current’ and ‘Archived’ folders, which we introduced to give at least the ability to ‘hide’ older records. But it’s become apparent that we needed more than this.

We have now enabled a new Folders system for both Parent Slips and School Forms.

Set up Folders

Click on your user name at the top right and select Settings, then the Slip and Form Folders option.

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You can add and edit the Folders as required. You can delete Folders but only if there are no Slips or Forms allocated.

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Allocate Slips and Forms to Folders

Once you have created some Folders you can now allocate Parent Slips or School Forms to the Folders. You can allocate multiple records at the same time, click the checkboxes next to the records you wish to allocate

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Once you have selected the records click the Action drop down and select ‘Copy/Remove Selected to Folder’, and whether you wish to Copy the records to the Folder, or Remove From the Folder. Select the destination/source Folder and click the Go button.

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The records will be allocated to the Folder (or removed). You can view the records in the Folder by selecting it from the drop down list and clicking the search button.

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Records can be in multiple Folders at the same time.

The Current and Archived folders remain separate, so a record is either in the Current or Archived Folders, AND maybe in one or more Folders you have created.

Date pickers are now available on ParentPaperwork’s online forms

Today we have added date fields to our online slips and forms, expanding the list of available field types.

These new date fields are designed to capture a specific date – day, month and year. They are going to be useful for all manner of information, excursion dates for a permission slip, a student’s date of birth, the dates a staff member wishes to take a vacation.

The Form Builder now has 10 date fields available for each of the School and Parent sections on the form templates. As with other field types, just drag a field over from the list of available fields on the left hand side.

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When a Slip or Form is created from the template, the user can select a date using the pop up date picker.

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When a parent is filling out a form they also can use the picker to select a date. You can have multiple date fields on the same template.
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You can now Not Approve ParentPaperwork’s Slips and Forms

We’re rolling out a number of improvements to our online forms over the next week or so, and first up is the ability for someone to Not Approve a Parent Slip or School Form.

Our schools already make great use of the form workflows, especially to ensure that the appropriate staff members have approved a form before it is distributed or moves to the next step.

For example, perhaps the Business Manager needs to approve an excursion permission slip before it is sent to parents; or the HR Manager needs to approve a staff member’s leave request.

It’s become obvious to us that not everything is going to be approved the first time; up until now we’ve generally recommended this be an offline process – the approver might contact the requester outside of ParentPaperwork to advise that something about the form needs to be altered.

But now this can happen on the workflow within ParentPaperwork. Whenever a User is asked to Approve something there is now also a button to Not Approve.

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Clicking the Not Approve button opens a window where the Approver can enter a comment or feedback about the reasons for not approving the form.

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When the Go button is clicked the form is sent back to the person on the Send for Approval step, and new Send for Approval and Approve steps are displayed, along with the comment. The status of the form is changed to Not Approved.

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An email notification is sent to the person on the Send for Approval step advising them they need to take action, the email also includes the comment.

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This cycle of Send for Approval/Not Approve can loop endlessly until the Approver is satisified and clicks the Approve button.

 

 

 

Send Parent Slips forms to individual Students as well as Student Lists

We’re celebrating the start of a new week with a great new feature in ParentPaperwork – the ability to select individual Students for a Parent Slip as well, or instead of, the traditional Student Lists.

Ever since ParentPaperwork launched we’ve held firm to the principle that we send Slips to groups of Students, it always made sense when we thought about the ways paper forms are used in schools for group activities like excursions and field trips.

However, as more and more schools sign up for ParentPaperwork, the more ways they are finding to use the system to solve paper-based communication tasks. Over the past couple of months we’ve had schools in several countries ask us why we are so tied to Student Lists, and why can’t they just select a couple of Students and send out a form? That feedback made us reflect, and come to the conclusion there really wasn’t any reason! And so we’ve made the change.

As of today you can now send a Parent Slip, or a Broadcast, to any combination of Student Lists and/or individual Students. When you add a new Slip or Broadcast you will see the usual Student List selector, and a new field to select Students. Just start typing the name of the Student and a list of suggestions will display, click the name of the Student to add them to the recipients list.

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In all other ways the Parent Slips and Broadcasts work the same, the individual Students will be displayed on the lists of Responses and Statistics along with any Students from selected Student Lists.

You can even send a Slip or Broadcast to a single Student, there’s now no requirement to select a Student List at all.

It’s a source of pride to us that ParentPaperwork’s ongoing development is in direct response to the needs and desires of our schools – and this new feature is a great example of what happens when customers put forward ideas that resonate with other schools – because we are always listening and will always adopt great innovations that will be of benefit to the whole ParentPaperwork community.

Your ultimate library of school form templates

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There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank piece of paper waiting for inspiration to strike. The same could be said when you are confronted with creating a new form.

Life is so much easier when you can lean on your professional network and learn from their past experiences – and ParentPaperwork now gives you access to the collected wisdom of school administrators around the world via our new Form Template Library.

The Form Template Library is a collection of dozens of Form Templates you can add to your school’s ParentPaperwork account. We’ve curated a group of many different Templates from our schools around the world and made them available to everyone to use.

To access the Form Template Library, click the Form Templates link on the left menu, and click the Add New button at the top of the Form Templates List page.

The New Template page has two tabs, the first is to create a new Template from scratch, the second tab is the Form Template Library.

You will see a list of all the Templates in the Library, and can filter and search by keywords and Categories.

Click the Preview button to see what the Template will look like. To install the Template into your School account, click the blue Select button.

Once you’ve installed the Template you will be able to edit and manage it just like any other of your Form Templates.

Photo: Creative Commons/OpenScheduler

Improvements to form workflows in ParentPaperwork

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We’ve released two great improvements to the form workflows in ParentPaperwork:

  1. Select User on Workflow
  2. Autocomplete of Workflow Steps

Select User on Workflow

Until now multiple Users could be selected on an Approval workflow step, when the workflow step ‘Send for Approval’ was actioned all those Users would receive a notification, and any of them could then take the Approve action.

This feature allows an option to be set when configuring the workflow to say that the User taking the Send for Approval action must nominate one of those Users to take the Approve action.

When editing a Workflow Step for an Approve Step, there is a new drop down option to ‘Choose from one selected User’.

When a Slip is moved through the Workflow, the User who actions the ‘Send for Approval’ step will be prompted to nominate one of the group of Users allocated to the Approve Step.

Autocomplete of Workflow Steps

We have tweaked the workflow system to auto complete steps under two circumstances to make usage more intuitive.

  1. After an Approve step is actioned where the next step is a Send for Approval, the Send for Approval will auto complete. Deals with workflows with multiple approvals and means the person actioning the first Approve step then doesn’t have to manually action the next Send for Approval step
  2. After the Approve step is actioned where the next step is Queue to Send, the Queue to Send step will auto complete. This means if the person approving doesn’t realise they need to take an action again to Queue the Slip, the job is done for them.

Note: Auto-complete will not fire on a Send from Approval step after an Approve step if a User needs to be selected for the next Approve step – otherwise there’s no opportunity for that User to be selected.

Read about more features: Annual student record keeping just got smarter

Photo: Lucélia Ribeiro

 

Helping Australian Schools with Back to School 2016

Welcome back to school for 2016 for our Australian customers of ParentPaperwork!

We hope everything is going well preparing for the return of students at the end of the month. If you are a ParentPaperwork customer we want to offer our assistance to have everything organised for 2016.

Setting up for 2016

  • Common activities in ParentPaperwork at the beginning of the school year are:
  • Move students who left at the end of 2015 to a new Student List;
  • Remove Students from Year Level and Class Student Lists;
  • Re-import your students and parents to ensure existing students are allocated to the correct Student Lists; and new students and parents records are created;
  • Archive Slips from last year so whilst they are easily accessible, they are not displayed by default when you are viewing your Parent Slips list;
  • Disable Staff who have left school; add new Staff Users.

Back to School Forms

Of course ParentPaperwork is perfect for all those back to school blanket permission forms, like photo permissions, policy consents, head lice checks and any other forms you ask parents to complete and return at the start of Term 1.

Once all your students and parents are organised in ParentPaperwork, it’s easy to set up these forms and send them out.

We’d be delighted to help you prepare for Term 1 to ensure everything is ready.

If you’d like assistance with setting up your students/parents, and/or sending out back to school forms, please email support@parentpaperwork.com.

How risky are paper forms in schools? Seven significant points of failure with paper-based forms sent home to parents

Risk and liability management is a significant and growing issue for schools around the world. Schools face ever increasingly tight legal frameworks around privacy, risk management and in some countries the advent of litigious parents who will sue for everything from poor exam results to even the mildest perception of the school placing their child in harm’s way. Some schools now employ full time staff members whose job is to prepare risk assessments and evaluate every activity for the potential for all manner of disaster.

With this in mind it’s essential schools consider all aspects of their administrative and management processes and policies. ParentPaperwork is helping schools with this by offering a platform that replaces paper forms with a secure, robust online forms system to capture, manage and report information from parents.

Let’s break down why paper forms are inherently risky in schools, and examine seven significant points of failure with paper-based forms sent home to parents.

1. Who signed the form?

Schools have an obligation to secure informed consent from the guardian of a student for excursions and other activities. That means ensuring the parent has all the necessary information to make an informed decision about their child participating in an activity. And the school needs to be confident they have secured that consent from the appropriate person.

How can you have any confidence the information provided on a form, and signature at the bottom, is from the intended parent or guardian? The paper form has been stuffed in a school bag, and presumably transported home, but schools have no capacity to validate the form was filled in by the parent. ParentPaperwork communicates directly with the nominated contacts for a student, and can add another layer of identification with Two Factor Authentication.

2. Was the form filled out correctly?

A paper form has no controls to ensure that information is entered into all the required fields. Even the design of the form is a problem – all too often class teachers simply design their own form, ignoring the mandated form created by the school, or the school’s auspicing body – the local authority, the school district. ParentPaperwork ensures staff use the correct form template, and can designate fields as required to force parents to complete the necessary information.

3. Can you read their handwriting?

Once paper forms have been returned the information needs to be transcribed often into a central report, perhaps an Excel spreadsheet. You are dependent on being able to read the parent’s handwriting, a mistake can be costly. We all know we have parents whose handwriting is illegible, can you be sure you have interpreted the information correctly? ParentPaperwork’s online forms mean parents are typing their responses to all the fields and questions.

4. Are the responses from parents being compiled correctly?

Your school’s office staff might be faced with a pile of dozens or hundreds of forms they need to collate and assemble information from. Any time information is moved from one medium to another the risk of corruption is high. Maybe they could read the handwriting, but did they then transcribe the information consistently and correctly? ParentPaperwork collates the parent responses for you, there’s no opportunity for data to be corrupted along the way.

5. Are your paper forms stored securely?

Schools must adhere to data retention policies, they vary around the world but a good rule of thumb seems to be seven years. Where are you storing your paper forms? In a box in a shed down the back of the playing fields? In the basement – the one that floods each winter? Are you really sure they are safe for the next seven years? Some schools even pay for secure off-site storage of paperwork! ParentPaperwork stores all the online form data in a secure cloud-based database, backed up constantly.

6. Can you find a form from six months ago? Five years ago?

Let’s say there was a question or query raised about an activity in the past? Can you locate and retrieve a paper form submitted by a parent two years ago? Would you have to pay your offsite document storage company to retrieve and deliver a box back to school? Is there a catalogue or index for every batch of paper forms you’ve added to storage over the years? ParentPaperwork’s online database means you can search for a particular student, parent or activity and immediately display the online form the parent completed, no matter how long ago.

7. Who has access to your paper forms?

Paper forms regularly contain highly sensitive personal information about students and parents – health information, personal circumstances and addresses and contacts, all of which is likely strictly regulated by the privacy and data protection laws in your country. How do you control access to the paper forms, or the transcribed data within the school? Can any teacher just pick up a form, or see a spreadsheet of compiled responses? ParentPaperwork provides strong user permissions to control which staff member can see what information, ensuring only those who ‘need to know’ can access personal data.

These seven points of failure should be keeping school administrators awake at night everywhere. It only takes one incident to highlight the inadequacies of old style manual processes. In today’s world any incident is one too many, and that’s why the team behind ParentPaperwork has worked hard to create the right technology solution to reduce risk and improve liability management in schools around the world, by replacing paper forms with a secure online system.

 

 

 

 

 

New ways to sort and filter Parent Responses in ParentPaperwork

The Responses List displayed when you view a Parent Slip is a terrific real-time view of the forms being completed and returned by parents. It makes it easy to see at a glance how you are tracking, whether you sent out 10 forms or 1,000 forms.

We’ve added new Sort and Filter tools to help make reviewing and monitoring the Responses even easier.

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The new Filter drop down gives you five options:

  1. Show All – remove any filter
  2. Have Responded – only those Students for whom forms have been returned
  3. Only Positive Responses – only returned forms with a ‘Yes’ or ‘positive’ response
  4. Not Positive Responses – returned forms which do not have a ‘Yes’ or ‘positive’ response
  5. Have not Responded – only those Students for whom forms have not been returned

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The Sort options allow you to change the order the Responses are listed. Click on the same option to change alternative descending/ascending order.

The Filter and Sort features work in tandem. For example, you could Filter to only show Positive Responses, and sort by the date the Response was submitted.