Today we are pleased to announce new functionality for parents completing their online forms with ParentPaperwork.
There is nothing more frustrating as a parent to receive endless paper forms from school endlessly asking the same questions. “What’s your emergency contact phone number?”, “What’s your ambulance subscription number?”, “What is your child’s swimming ability?”.
With paper forms you need to handwrite each answer every time, which is a huge time waster and inconvenience. Now ParentPaperwork solves this problem, adhering to our mantra “a parent should only have to tell us something once”.
In the Form Builder, when editing a Parent field, you’ll see a new option where you can select the Default value for the field:
If you tick ‘Enter Value’ then you can enter or select the default value for the field. Tick ‘Use value last entered by parent’ and when the parent clicks through and fills out their online form, if they have previously filled out a form from this template, they will see the value they last entered already pre-filled in the field.
Of course if the parent wants to edit the values they can do so.
This new feature should be a fantastic time saver, just remember to select the ‘Use value last entered by parent’ option when you are setting up Form Templates.
Today we are announcing the release of a raft of changes to the way you can view, list and manage the Responses submitted by Parents.
High on the list of requests from schools has been the ability to deal with situations where a particular student for some reason or other did not receive their Slip. Typically there are two scenarios:
- The Student was not allocated to the Student List when the Slip was emailed out.
- The Student did not have a Parent Contact allocated, or the Parent Contact did not have an email address configured when the Slip was emailed out.
The new features released today address both of these situations. We have substantially overhauled the Responses list when you view a Slip. The two big changes are:
- You can now Resend the emails for a particular Student by clicking the Resend link.
- There is a new section called Other Students that will display if there are Students on the Lists selected, but who have not been sent the Slip. You can click the Send Slip link, they will be sent the emails and be moved to the list of Responses above.
In the situation where a Student appears on the Other Students list, but their Parent Contact(s) don’t have email addresses, you will be told this, and will not see a Resend link until email addresses are configured.
In addition we have also made the following changes:
- The Responses list now has paging. We’ve noticed schools sending hundreds of Slips out, so the list becomes very long and unwieldy. It made sense to introduce paging, you’ll now see 100 Responses at a time, and can move through the list by clicking the page numbers at the top right.
- The Student and Parent names now are clickable links so you can jump to their specific records. This is particularly handy when you are working to resolve a problem, for example dealing with a missing email address for a Parent. Previously you would have had to go and search for the Parent’s name, now you can just click through.
We are pleased to announce that as of today all of ParentPaperwork’s data is stored in Australia.
ParentPaperwork is hosted by one of the leading cloud web hosting companies, Microsoft Azure. Microsoft operates a bunch of data centres around the world, but up until now did not have facilities available based in Australia.
We chose Azure hosting for many reasons, they are one of the major cloud hosting companies in the world along with Amazon and Google, and provide a fantastic range of services and options, along with a high degree of availability and reliability. As they are global, we are able to provide a great ParentPaperwork experience to schools located everywhere. They also give us the ability to scale up our online services at the click of a button to cope with spikes in traffic and demand.
Microsoft has a comprehensive approach to data security and publishes a white paper detailing security, privacy and compliance for the Azure hosting service but the lack of an Azure facility in Australia has been an obstacle to some schools in Australia, education departments are becoming more cautious about schools using online services where student data might be held outside of Australia, and thus potentially outside the jurisdiction of Australian privacy legislation.
Earlier in 2014 Microsoft announced that they would open data facilities for Azure in Australia, and we’ve been waiting with baited breath for them to come available. And finally they have!
Over the weekend we moved all of the ParentPaperwork databases used to hold Australian customer data into the Azure Melbourne hosting facility, meaning that any student and parent data in ParentPaperwork is now stored in Australia.
A frequent request from schools on the ParentPaperwork development roadmap has been downloadable calendar entries for parents, so parents can easily add their childrens’ activities into online calendars.
Today we’ve released our Calendar Entry feature. When adding a new Slip you’ll now be presented with some new fields:
You’ll notice we’ve added a More/Less toggle, and also moved the Limit Responses option into that area.
You can enter the Date/Time From/To of your activity using the Calendar Entry fields, or just leave them blank for no Calendar Entry at all.
The Dates/Times you select will show on the View page:
You can check the Calendar Entry by clicking the icon, the calendar file will download and open in your electronic diary.
When parents click through to respond to a Slip, they will also be shown the icon:
Over time we see this as expanding to enable a school to subscribe to a calendar feed of all their activities for which ParentPaperwork Slips exist which could be a big time saver, having an easy overview in one place of all activities the students are participating in.
Sometimes the small things matter the most, and most people would agree they would always prefer to be addressed by name. We realised recently that the emails ParentPaperwork sends to parents were not actually personally addressed, so now they are!
It can be frustrating not being completely sure a parent has received an email. ParentPaperwork already can tell you if a parent has opened an email, now there is also notification for:
- No email address at all
- A delivery error was recorded
When you view the list of parent responses for a Slip, there are two new icons.
The red triangle is a warning that the Parent contact does not have an email address, we’re also displaying this icon in other places where a parent is listed, so it’s clear you might have a problem.
The red envelope icon shows that there was an error recorded when we tried to deliver an email to the parent. You can click the icon to pop up a window containing the actual error message.
Today’s we’ve launched our first tutorial videos, showing you step by step how to perform many of the common tasks in ParentPaperwork. We already have a pretty comprhensive Help and Support section, with many articles containing instructions and answers to frequently asked questions. But we know a picture tells a thousand words, and the new tutorial videos provide a straightforward and visual explanation for a range of topics:
- Importing Student & Parents
- Managing Student records
- Add a new Slip
- Student Attributes
- Form Template Design
- Managing Parent Contacts
- Managing Workflows for Form Templates
- Exporting data from a Slip
- Managing Student Lists
- Exporting data from Slips by date
The videos are available on the Help pages, accessible from the Help option on the top menu bar after you sign in.
Here’s an example of one of the tutorials, showing you how to Add a New Slip.
Workflows are a powerful tool in ParentPaperwork to ensure that the proper permissions are secured before a Slip is distributed to parents, or that certain tasks are completed – for example, for a Victorian state government school enter the information to the DEECD Student Activity Locator. Up until now users have had a limited ability to manage the workflows associated with form templates. Today we’ve introduced a new way to manage and edit the workflows.
Click on Forms to list your Form Templates.
You’ll see a new edit option under the Workflow column, this will display the workflow associated with your template.
Depending on the Step type, you can edit various information about the Step. For example, the first Step, to ‘Create’ the Slip cannot be removed, neither can the ‘Queue’ and ‘Send’ steps as these are required in order to trigger distribution of the Slips. For example, if you click to edit the ‘Create’ step, you’ll see that you cannot edit the Action, but you can allocate which Users can action the Step.
You can insert new steps by clicking the relevant Add New Step button. Typically this is to introduce an Approval step, whereby you want the workflow to move to a particular person (or selection of people) who can approve the sending of a Slip.
You should add two new Steps, firstly the ‘Send for Approval’ step. When this is actioned by the User, it will trigger an email to the ‘approver’ so they are notified that they need to log in and action the Slip. Secondly an ‘Approve’ step, which the approving user(s) will action to show that they have signed off on the Slip. They would then usually action the Queue Slip step. Thus the workflow might look like this:
If you change your mind, you can delete the Steps you have added. Y
We’ve released a small update today in response to feedback from schools, the ability to configure the ‘From’ email address for the emails sent by ParentPaperwork to schools.
In the past the emails sent to parents always had the ‘From’ and ‘Reply To’ emails as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, and the ‘From Name’ as ‘ParentPaperwork’.
We’ve made two changes:
- The From Name will now be the name of the school, instead of ParentPaperwork. We think this makes much more sense, parents can now easily recognise the email is coming from the school.
- Users can now control the From/Reply To email address. By default it remains as ‘email@example.com’, but you can now configure it to be something else. This is important if an email ‘bounces’ because the recipient’s email is incorrect, the bounce message will be sent to the From email address, thus a school can now choose to receive those bounces and know that a parent’s email address has problems.
Here’s what the email might look like:
Notice the From Name is the name of the school, and the email address is no longer ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
How to change the From Email address
As part of these changes we’ve also slightly reorganised the Settings menus. If you click the cog at the top right you’ll find an option called Settings.
Click this, and it will open a new page that consolidates together your options.
Click the Configuration option.
By default the From Email Address will be ‘email@example.com’. To set your own, uncheck the Use Default option and type the new address in the field. You could set up a special email address at school just for this, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reset back, check the Use Default box.
We’re pleased to announce a new feature for ParentPaperwork, the ability to limit the number of responses submitted by parents. This has been an idea suggested by several schools, and made complete sense when it was explained to us.
Some schools are using ParentPaperwork to capture RSVPs for events and functions, for example, a Father Son Breakfast, and usually these types of events have a limit on numbers.
When you add or edit a slip you will now see a new set of options called ‘Limit Responses’. By default it is set to ‘All’, meaning all parents can respond to your Slip. If you change this option to ‘First’ a new field will appear where you can enter the number of responses you wish to capture. For example, if you only want the first 30 responses you would enter ’30’ into the field.
When the 31st parent clicks the link in their email to respond to the Slip they will be shown a message explaining that the number of permitted responses has been exceeded.
After feedback from customers we’ve updated the permissions system for Users, to give you more flexibility and control over what Users can do and see within ParentPaperwork.
You access the User List from the Settings menu by clicking on the cog at the top right of your browser window. Click to view a User, then click the Edit button.
There are two new options:
1. User Permission
A User can now have “Edit Permission” or “Read Only Permission”. The default is “Edit Permission”, which means they have full access to add, edit and delete information. If a User has “Read Only Permission” they cannot add/edit/delete anything, all they can do is view information.
2. Only the User’s Slips
If this option = “Yes”, the User will only see their Slips – that is, Slips they have created, or are on the Workflow for. The Default = “No”, which means Users will see all Slips as standard.
A reminder that this only applies to Users. Administrators continue to have complete access to everything, including the ability to manage Users, Student Attributes and Form templates.