Everything you need to know about using Whatsapp for Schools
Communication has been the way of living for humans right from the ancient times. And relationships are built through communication. The only form of communication during olden days was the human voice. The first phone using digital communication was introduced in the early 1990s. Post 1990’s, digital phone technology developed at a rapid pace. The first text message (SMS) was sent in 1993.
Growth of Digital Technology
Digital technology has revolutionized communication in the modern world. 3G digital phone communication arrived as early 2001. To think that it has been less than 2 decades is quite surprising isn't it?
WhatsApp was launched in 2009. It practically replaced text messages by providing a completely free app for communication. People started finding ways to use WhatsApp beyond just a friendly SMS alternative. Schools started relying on WhatsApp and other social media tools. Their interest was to keep communication going between teachers and parents.
Let us understand WhatsApp better
WhatsApp has 1.5 billion active users in over 180 countries. 1 million people register on WhatsApp daily. The country with the largest user base is Brazil. 58% of users access WhatsApp several times a day. WhatsApp is the third most downloaded Android app in the world. 65 billion text messages are sent through WhatsApp everyday. One billion groups are in use on WhatsApp. WhatsApp is banned in 12 countries. An average user opens the app 23 times a day.
What does WhatsApp offer
WhatsApp has two options.
B) WhatsApp for Business.
WhatsApp, as you know is a chat communication tool for personal messaging. You can send messages, share pictures, videos, documents and create different groups. You can also put a profile picture.
WhatsApp launched WhatsApp for Business with an aim to help SME’s have a separate business and personal communication app.
WhatsApp for Business allows you to create a business profile, write a description and add your website information. More features are expected to be added in the future is what we are told.
WhatsApp for Business is not a productivity tool. It won't help businesses manage their communication effectively. WhatsApp has more disadvantages than advantages for schools. To start with, it is restricted to one account per device. If you run a school with few teachers and want each teacher to manage their sections by providing different admin level access, it is not possible in WhatsApp. There is lack of structure. Why? WhatsApp for Business does not provide any ERP features for your school.
Also, Payment collection is a facility that WhatsApp does not provide yet. In your school management software or school app, online fee payment helps schools to create invoice from within the school app, send invoices to parents, receive payments, track payments received and event send automated reminders without having to manually do it.
Payment screen in your school app on ONNE
WhatsApp is great for friends and family to have a fun chat and bringing them closer.
WhatsApp for Business does not have any feature that will stand out to say that it will help your school in communication. In fact, there are more disadvantages using WhatsApp for you school than advantages to spell.
Is WhatsApp a good tool for communication?
WhatsApp is a great tool for personal use. The app is developed and designed to keep personal chat going effortlessly. If you want to improve parent teacher communication, WhatsApp is not a great tool. We will see why WhatsApp is not a good tool for business communication.
WhatsApp, just like Facebook Messenger or any other instant chat app won’t do business or school communication any good! Why you may ask? WhatsApp is only a chat tool that can be used for linear form of communication. If it is just about sending a message then WhatsApp will work just fine. If you want to track, WhatsApp won't help. Businesses need a tool that provides structure in their work. That is exactly what business apps are designed to do. It caters to the specific needs of the business.
Irrespective of which business you are in, WhatsApp is only a chat platform. Rigid with a limited set of features and functionalities. Let us elaborate that a bit more by looking into the advantages and disadvantages of using WhatsApp for your school.
Some of the Advantages are:
- Instant Messaging
- Completely Free
- Can reach parents in Real Time
- Practically everyone is on WhatsApp
- Can have Video and Audio calls
- Can send Documents
Some of the Disadvantages are:
- A constant Distraction
- Reduces Productivity
- Does not have all the Features a School need
- No clear Threads for Communication
- Lack of Multiple Admin Access
- Lack of Privacy
- No Online Fee Payment
- Lack of School Report Card
- No School Time Table
And so much more…
Take a look at the pros and cons of WhatsApp for schools.
Does your School Really need an App?
A survey done by Guild shows interesting statistics on the number of businesses who are relying on WhatsApp to communicate and also how many of them are keen for an alternate solution.
Here are some stats:
42.07% of respondents who participated in the survey said they use WhatsApp for personal and business communication.
78.06% of respondents from the list above, ones who said they use WhatsApp for both professional and personal use, also said they want a seperate app that is designed for work.
Here are 6 reasons to prove why your school should not be using WhatsApp.
Does your school really need an app? A school app or school management software bridges the gap between teachers, students and parents. It saves a lot of school’s time. A school app can increase your overall efficiency.
Other than helping the school with a myriad of activities, it also helps the school improve it's brand image.
If you run a school and your current mode of communication to parents or students is via WhatsApp. Or if you follow traditional methods such as writing a note in the diary or printing a circular and sending it across manually, it is time to rethink and see how your school can actually catch up with technology and use it to it's benefit.
Why should your school have an app?
Reasons are plenty.
- Save Teachers Time
- Increase Parent Teacher Communication
- Improve Efficiency
- Reduce Manual Errors
- Save Costs
- Share Information on the Go
- Improve your Brand Image.
- Share School Time Table
- Send Homework Assignments
- Mark Absentees
- Assign Multiple Admins to Your School
- Collect Online Fee Payment
- Send Automated Receipts
- Use Automated Reminder Facility
- Manage Registration
- Share Photos and Documents
- Receive Comments and Likes
- Get Event RSVP
...to name a few.
Whether you are a new school who is planning to use WhatsApp for school communication or an existing school using WhatsApp already for your communication, it will help to know more about the Pros & Cons of Using WhatsApp for your School.
How is WhatsApp harmful for your school?
If you are already using WhatsApp for your school, you need to understand the 11 worst things WhatsApp is actually doing to your school that you may not be aware of. If you are planning to use WhatsApp of schools, this list below will help you take a wise decision.
Schools need a lot of privacy, especially because they are dealing with children. From the time the child is dropped off at school, it is the school’s responsibility to ensure they are safe. A school management software provides just that. WhatsApp is not a safe tool for communication for businesses. Despite the talk about end to end encryption, photos and videos shared by the school is not safe. It is open for access by third party sites.
Now let that sink in.
The photos and videos you share with parents using WhatsApp is actually accessible by THIRD PARTY SITES.
Beyond that, there are 10 other things you need to know about using WhatsApp for your school and how it is harming you.
- FOMO is real! WhatsApp is making you Addicted
- Your Data is stored insecurely and you don't even know!
- WhatsApp is open for Malware Threats
- Hackers can alter Photos and Videos that you share
- You are losing Control
- There is loss of Efficiency and school productivity.
- You have to run helter-skelter, trying to retrieve Old Messages
- WhatsApp is making you lose your Brand Identity.
- It is adding to your Existing Workload
- WhatsApp Group Messaging Is a Joke
We have elaborated on these 11 points ( 10 + 1) on the worst things WhatsApp is actually doing to your school.
Your app on ONNE
Is WhatsApp killing your school productivity?
Let us look at a typical day of a teacher in school. We all know that teachers are an epitome of patience. They have so much love for what they do, their passion to teach with a bright smile, with an aim to make a child’s like better is downright awesome.
Parents lack patience due to the concern they have for our children.
Teachers are typically managing a bunch of kids who are running and screaming and fighting and arguing and hitting and pushing and falling and whimpering and crying and being sad and what not!
While working with young children, communication can be hard. To understand and get job done gets doubly difficult. You have to rationalise and set rules too.
Amidst all of this, if the school is dependent on a platform like WhatsApp to communicate with parents, here is how it typically goes - from a teacher’s point of view, and we call it.....
Beep, Beep, Beep
Message from your colleague
Message from your partner
A random promotion SMS
Your School Alumni Group that functions actively 24/7
Parents of the child’s play school class asking questions on the upcoming annual day function
Beep, Beep and more Beep
That’s productivity death by a 100 beeps! No wonder teachers efficiency and productivity takes a big hit and the school keeps wondering why it has dipped down drastically. Chat is a complete distraction at work and WhatsApp is known for being addictive. Therefore a tool like WhatsApp for schools does more damage than help in keeping school parent communication going.
When there are multiple people in a WhatsApp group, it is important to understand one thing. Each one of them has a different personality and come with a different thinking process.
There are 8 kinds of people, who will be seen in any WhatsApp group be it for your school or any group you manage for your business.
What do School’s want?
Schools want to foster collaboration and increase school parent communication and engagement. Schools also want to establish a Brand name. They want to build trust in the market. While some of the well known 'things to do' for schools are,
- Get in touch with parents to praise children.
- Share daily experiences to bring them closer
- Show parents that they genuinely care about the children
- Create various activities that will entice them to engage
- Provide opportunities to communicate better
- Get parents involved in the school routine
- Be open to feedback and criticism
- Avoid parents seeing other parent contacts details and create unnecessary issues.
- Have effective communication without losing time
- Increasing teachers' productivity
It is important to see how the above points can be addressed effectively. What tools will support this kind of engagement.
What is an alternative for WhatsApp for Schools?
It is evident that great schools have great communication going between parents, teachers and students. Those schools who can afford an app for themselves will build one. Or they opt for ready to use school apps or school management software to keep their communication structured and going. For schools who do not have the time and money to develop stand alone apps to suit their needs, ready apps like ONNE is a great alternative.
What does ONNE offer and how is it different from WhatsApp?
Here are enough reasons why your school should forget chat and get your own APP on ONNE
- PRIVACY - Everyone cannot join your school app or school management software. Schools can restrict access and approve parents to their app. This is not the case with WhatsApp.
- CONTROL - Schools will have complete control on the conversation that happens in the app. There will be no unnecessary messaging or distractions in the school app on ONNE, which WhatsApp, by virtue of being a chat tool will bring.
- STRUCTURE - With WhatsApp there has to be endless scrolling, trying to date back and track messages. It gets even more difficult where multiple people are involved. With ONNE, there is a structure in your school app or school mobile app.
- CLEAR THREADS - Be it a message, photo or a document that needs to be shared, it all goes in the chat thread in WhatsApp. ONNE provides clear threads for different functions. Parents and teachers can access different threads based on what they are looking for.
- FOCUS - Being a chat tool for personal use, parents and teachers get distracted. You get drawn into other chat messages. With your school app or school management software on ONNE, there is a crystal clear focus.
- USER MANAGEMENT- Parents will not be able to see other parents contact details in your school apps on ONNE. WhatsApp exposes these contact numbers which most schools do not want.
- FEATURES SPECIFIC TO YOUR SCHOOL- Schools need features that are designed to help them run their school successfully. WhatsApp only provides a chat option. Timetable management, homework assignment, attendance or even sending daily school report are not functions that are built in WhatsApp. That's when a school ERP system or a school management software will help your school.
You may also want to read about the 6 Reasons WhatsApp For School Is A Waste Of Time and why you should get an app for your school.