Using an Online Collaboration Platform for Schools to Improve Communications between Teachers, Parents and Students
In this Case Study we have taken a different slant and detailed a showcase from our partner Zoho showing the Niskayuna School District Parent-Teacher Organisation website, which demonstrates how a school can utilise online collaboration tools to help share information between teachers, students and parents.
First, what is an 'online collaboration tool'?
It's a fancy name isn't it? They are more commonly called 'intranets' or 'extranets' or 'wikis', a kind of 'webiste' used by a business or organisation; often accessible only by the people within that organisation.
We use them all the time without thinking about it, a classic example is Wikipedia, there are many more. They are tremendously useful in terms of sharing knowledge to people in an organisation, keeping knowledge centralised and up to date, sharing editing responsibilities, managing approvals of content and controlling versions, even improving learning and training.
The type of information you can keep on a web based collaboration solution is mind boggling: policies, rules and regulations, processes, general information, training materials, events, contact information, news, forms, documents, teaching materials, timetables and schedules, photos, sales figures, shareholder reports, you can even embed videos and powerpoint slideshows in your wiki pages! The list goes on, the only limit is your imagination.
Unfortunately, when we explain the uses of this kind of solution to schools we often hear initial responses such as "we're not big enough to need that, maybe later", or... "they are too complex to set up", "we don't have any IT skills in house" or "too costly".
However, in our opinion, schools - who specialise in imparting information to students and sharing information amongst teachers - are the perfect candidates for an online collaboration platform such as Zoho Wiki. Why?
- School intranet for students and teachers
- Student and teach profiles
- Sharing Teacher materials and lesson plans
- School news and events
- Kids jokes and fun stuff
- Class timetables, course syllabus
- Homework submission portal
- Tests, surveys and other dynamic, two way interaction
- Videos of Student performance in plays, dance, speaking etc
- Student discussion forums: educational, help & support, fun, etc
- PTO/Board of Education/Shareholder website
- And many more....
A real life example of how a school can use such a platform can be seen with the Niskayuna School District Parent-Teacher Organisations website, which is an example of how a school district chose Zoho Wiki online knowledge sharing solution to develop a wiki on which to share information with Parent-Teacher Organisations (PTO), resulting in a truly collaborative platform shared by teachers and parents, primarily to enrich student activities.
The Niskayuna School District Parent-Teacher Organization wanted an online and centralised place where parents and teachers could come together and share information online. The answer was Zoho Wiki.
The site can be seen here: http://www.niskypto.org/ and gives a good idea of what is possible in terms of an 'online collaboration portal' for use in education. In their own words, they wanted all parents to get involved, to know what’s happening across all schools, and form a network to discuss issues, share ideas and build rapport with other parents and teachers.
The key advantages of using Zoho Wiki were:
- Creating and changing the layout of Zoho Wiki was flexible enough to incorporate their ideas.
- Non technical people could easily create and manage groups, users across various schools, classes, teachers and parents.
- Advanced permission settings allowed them to define who should view the page, who should edit the page, etc.
- No IT or software progarmming knowledge was needed to create or update the webpages, it is all 'What You See Is What You Get' (WYSIWYG) editing, if you can use a Word Processor, you can use Zoho Wiki!
- Using other Zoho business solutions such as Zoho Creator, they were also able to make a dynamic PTO bulletin board and Neighbor-to-Neighbor help service.
- Requires virtually no training.
So, on to setup costs...
Is it expensive to setup? No! Zoho Wiki is perfectly suited for schools wit bulk license pricing, no hardware or software required, and an extremely easy set up process.
For more details and setup estimates, contact us here.