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.
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.
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.
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.
When the Slip or Broadcast is sent out, an email notification will now also be sent to all of the Users you have selected.
The link in email will open to a read only preview of the Slip or Broadcast.
The current Student List selector has been a little problematic for schools with many Student Lists, so we have added a ‘typeahead’ box at the top of the box displaying available Lists on the left side. Simply start typing the name of the List you are looking for and the available options will automatically filter to reflect the text you enter.
It’s a easy way to quickly locate the Student List you need amongst dozens or hundreds.
Obviously it’s important to have your students organised in way that makes sense for your school, and then be able to select those via the Student Lists when you wish to send out a Slip or Broadcast.
Some of our larger ParentPaperwork schools over time have amassed a great many Student Lists. Others are maintaining a large number just day to day because we are not just pulling Year Levels, Home Rooms lists from their student database, but subject classes, co-curricular and others. The new typeahead feature makes finding and selecting Lists super simple.
The same works in reverse, if you have selected a large group of Student Lists you can locate one to remove from the Slip/Broadcast by typing the name of the desired list into the box at the top of the right hand column of selected Lists.
The online form submissions from parents using ParentPaperwork can now be analysed with charts and graphs. We have reorganised the Parent Slip page and added three tabs – Slip, Responses and Analysis.
This displays the Slip preview/overview as before.
The list of Responses for a Slip that previously hid at the bottom of the page now has its own tab, making it much easier to access, you don’t need to scroll all the way down the page anymore – something a number of people had commented on as being a little annoying.
The Analysis tab will display a chart for each ‘closed response’ question on the Slip. So select lists and checkboxes which have a closed list of answers will automatically have bar graphs created. There is a Print button that will open a new page wiht the charts formatted for printing, one chart per page. You could also screen shot a chart if you need to include it in another document in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint as part of a presentation.
The top chart will always be the ‘Contact Response’ – the mauve field in the Form Template Designer, the main question that must be on all Slips. The rest of the charts will then display in order below.
You might be using ParentPaperwork to survey parents, or capture their orders for fundraising products – but we know that most people respond positively to visual representations of data. It’s fine giving you Excel exports and lists of numbers and values, but a chart offers a simple and effective way of quickly analysing the results of your parent’s online form submissions – whatever the questions you asked.
We’re looking at further opportunities to utlise the data you are capturing and reporting in ParentPaperwork, we believe there’s much more that can we can do to help you understand and interpret the data, and we think everyone will agree this new analysis feature is a great step forward.
Student Lists are a great way to organise groups of Students to whom you will be sending Parent Slips. The Lists could be the students’ home rooms, the swimming team, the brass band – whatever you like. A Student can be assigned to any one or more of the Student Lists, and you can maintain as many Lists as you like. If we have a live connection to your student management database then ParentPaperwork can be reading any student groupings you might have in the database as well.
We have introduced the ability to archive Student Lists that you are not actively using, but which you wish to maintain for future reference or use.
When viewing the list of Student Lists select one or more by clicking the corresponding checkbox, then click the Action drop and select Move Selected to Archive. The Lists will no longer display by default in the ‘Current’ view, but you see them anytime by selecting Archive from the dropdown in the search bar and clicking the Search button.
Schools are continuing to implement ParentPaperwork’s School Forms module to handle internal paperwork and improve administrative processes, and giving us fantastic feedback. This week we have launched a powerful new feature as part of the Form Template and Workflow system – locking and unlocking fields on sections of a Form as it moves from one User to the next through a workflow.
Take the use case of a Professional Development form, where a staff member wishes to attend a seminar or undertake some other PD. The workflow might be:
- Staff member completes information about the seminar
- Staff member forwards form to Department Head for them to confirm budget line; append notes about requirements for another teacher to cover the absence.
- Department Head forwards form the Deputy Principal for Approval
- Deputy Principal may Approve or Not Approve, and append their own notes.
Thus there are three groups of fields on the form, each which can be managed by a different person on the workflow.
Assign Fields to Groups
Fields on a Form Template can be allocated to a Group. When you edit a Field you will see an option to allocate the Field to a Field Group (if this option does not display please contact email@example.com to ensure this feature is enabled). Group 0 means the field is not allocated to a Group.
If you allocate Fields to a Group this will be displayed in the Form Builder after you Update the Field.
Lock/Unlock Field Groups on Workflow Steps
Once you have Fields allocated to Groups, you can manage those Groups from the Workflow. When you edit a Step on the Workflow you can decided to Lock or Unlock a Field Group. For example in the screenshot below Group 1 is unlocked and thus editable on Step 2, whilst Groups 2 and 3 are Locked and would not be available to be edited by Users on this Step.
The ability to lock and unlock fields offers a powerful way to control a Form as it moves through any number of workflow steps.
Email is a key function in ParentPaperwork, and the primary way we communicate with parents to advise them of new online forms they need to complete, indeed our email notifications are critical if your school does not have our SMS text notifications enabled.
We know it is important to many schools that communications to parents reflect the branding and corporate style of the school. You can upload your logo which is shown on all web pages and emails seen by the parents.
You can now also set the colours in the email notifications sent to parents for:
- Advising of a new Parent Slip
- Thanking them for submitting a Parent Slip
- Reminding them they have an outstanding Parent Slip
Click on your user name at the top right, click Settings from the menu, the from the Settings page select Customise Email Templates.
By default, if you do not select any colours, the top and bottom banners in the email will be in the ParentPaperwork corporate purple shades.
You can set the colours for the banners. Click on the corresponding field and select a colour from the picker. Or, if you know the hex code for the desired colour, simply enter this in the field.
As you change the colours the live preview will update to illustrate how your emails will look.
If you decide you don’t want the custom colours click the Reset button to return to the standard purple shades.
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.
When a Slip or Form is created from the template, the user can select a date using the pop up date picker.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This cycle of Send for Approval/Not Approve can loop endlessly until the Approver is satisified and clicks the Approve button.
We’ve released two great improvements to the form workflows in ParentPaperwork:
- Select User on Workflow
- 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.
- 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
- 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