Friday, November 3, 2017

Modernizing BVSD's Digital Communications



As technology continues its rapid advance, digital communications are taking on a new level of importance. In order to fully utilize these tools, BVSD is officially embarking on an update and modernization of our communication avenues and we need your help. This effort will impact all of our student, parent, and employee communications, including district websites, mobile apps, branding, and logos, so we need your feedback. Our goal will be to establish modern, consistent and accessible communications with all stakeholders, including those with visual, audio or other disabilities.


We recognize that this will be a significant undertaking. For this reason BVSD has contracted with a company that specializes in the understanding of digital communications. iFactory has worked with several educational facilities such as Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Colorado State University, and Perkins School for the Blind to redesign their digital communications, and they will be working with us this school year.


DSC00514.JPGAs a part of iFactory’s work, focus groups surveys will help  gather input about what is working well and what needs still exist.  Through this process we will hear from all of our stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The input from these groups, along with iFactory’s expertise, will provide us with a framework to redesign our digital communications with a focus on meeting the needs of our all of our users.


Our work with iFactory is only the first phase in a large scale project that will likely take 2-4 years to complete. I recognize that this may seem like a long path, but because this is such a big venture, we want to ensure we do a quality job from the beginning.


We value your input!

We need your feedback throughout this entire process, but most importantly during this initial phase. Our work with iFactory will set the stage for the rest of our work -- giving us a clear path forward as we move into implementation. If you are asked to participate in a focus group, please join! When you get the survey -- please give us honest answers. Additionally, if you have thoughts that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.

Andrew

21 comments:

  1. when the district/school needs to get an email to me, please please please just put the info in the body of the email directly. no links to click, no PDFs (or other documents) to download. the current delivery system is arduous and difficult to use. also, when an attendance notification goes out to voice line, text, and email, if I read/receive it on one method, please don't continue sending via the others.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback, Jud! I can picture exactly what you are talking about with links/downloads in the body of the email, and it sounds like others agree with your thoughts from the comments below. We will take your feedback into consideration as we work with iFactory!

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    2. I have to say.....I'm personally okay with links or attachments. That is business as usually in the business world. The use of links minimizes the size of emails and allows for continued edits of material even after the links are distributed. To each their own.

      RHA

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  2. Agree on both points from Jud. Excited to see where this goes!

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    1. We are excited too! Thank you for the feedback!

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  3. Thirding Jud's first point. When you communicate with parents please always put the content in plain text in the body of the email. At least half the emails I have ever gotten from BVSD contained PDFs, links to Google Drive or--worst of all--attached Microsoft Word documents. NO! Text only, in the email. Frankly, this ought to be a three-strikes-and-you're fired offense for school office staff. How lazy do you have to be to not even copy/paste text?

    Beyond that, while I'm sure iFactory will bring many great ideas to the table, your number one priority needs to be simplifying your communications so that everyone at all levels of the district knows how to use it and can do so consistently, long after the consultants have left the building. Please don't focus on what it looks like, concentrate on long-term ease of use for your staff.

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    1. Thank you for the great advice about making sure everyone on the district is on the same page. That will be a great thing to keep in mind as we move forward with this work!

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    3. Being sure to differentiate between the tech (which is the easy part of this, really) and the USE of the tech (which is the very difficult part) is critically important. When the consultants leave only the new tech is in place (and paid for). Most if not all organizations struggle with the implementation phase.

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  4. I love that the district is working to make communications perceptible for families of varying abilities (including making digital communications compatible with screen readers!). In the same way, please don't forget to move forward with communication improvements for families who do not have regular access to Internet. I work as a Community Liaison for the district and have families at my school who go to the public library to check their email and/or only have a mobile device for checking communications. Some families I work with share a phone among family members. Thank you in advance for working towards improvements that serve as many families as possible.

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    1. Caitlin - thank you for always keeping all of our families in mind. As more and more people access information on their phones, we are working on ways to make it as easy as possible for everyone to communicate, regardless of their circumstances!

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    2. Thanks Caitlin. Even more reason to expand our ConnectME pilot. http://bvsd-cio.blogspot.com/2017/12/connect-my-education-gets-traction.html

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  5. Whatever is done...let's not make the digital divide even larger.

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    1. Thank you, Ina - that is our goal! We are continuing to work on closing the digital divide in many ways, including our ConnectME program, 1:Web program, and classes offered through Lifelong Learning. Hopefully, this communications update will also help close the gap by making information more accessible to everyone!

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  6. Echoing the comments made by Jud: clear subjects, direct messaging (no links). Encourage school leaders to communicate with forethought vs. last minute voicemail reminders.

    Consider consolidating information in a user/family dashboard. With three kids at BVSD, I do a fair amount of jumping around to various web real estate to get calendar, grade and other school/student related information.

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    1. Kyle - I am intrigued by your suggestion of a family dashboard. That will be a great idea to bring to the table as we work with iFactory!

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    2. Agreed! Maybe a family portal similar to what is used in the medical industry.

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    3. I meant to respond to this live in the meeting the other day. Please Please Please let's NOT go this direction. Parents are busy... clicking links and remembering logins to web portals isn't an effective way to disseminate information. We have the channels pretty well pulled together (text, email, phone), it's a matter of using them more effectively by providing context (e.g. is this email "urgent" or "passive consumption") and embedding the message directly into the email (not asking parents to click links and download PDFs).

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  7. Please make things simple. Right now there are too many systems and too many log ins that share different information. One location for everything we need regarding BVSD would be helpful.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Too many communication pathways for parents is becoming a theme for our communication modernization strategy.

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    2. Andrew, is there any news if the admin will unlock the ability for students to submit Google Docs on infinite campus. It looks like the feature is available, but not in our district. This would make it easy for parents to see student work and the teacher comments on the work.

      Or, is there a date for schoology to integrate with infinite campus?

      As a teacher, it can be very time consuming to enter the grades and feedback into multiple locations.

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