Blog A Schoolbox Journey: Increasing School Community Engagement By Kay Nageswaran Building a Connected School Community School community engagement is an essential aspect to a student’s learning journey. What better way to learn than from others? The Schoolbox learning platform houses many features to enhance school community engagement. One particular feature found to be useful for school community engagement is our News Component. Regardless of whether other Components in Schoolbox were used, we have discovered Parents consistently use the News Component. However, we quickly realised there was much room for Schoolbox to improve on this Component. The Need to Improve News Engagement It was identified that although News was being used as a common delivery mechanism of information, there was no understanding of the level of engagement; how many people were reading the article or even how many had seen a particular news article. Taking a step back, we realised there was no way to actually identify which delivery mechanism was preferred—emails, notifications, homepage feeds… there was no data to make any informed conclusions. On top of that, the News Component did not facilitate a two-way dialogue or any other form of interaction; the content was strictly limited to delivery only. It was clear that a redesign was needed so our schools could get the most out of the News Component. We wanted to provide the opportunity for our schools to measure engagement within their community and instead of assuming, actually understand the topics of interest and ensure students, teachers, parents, and the wider school community were engaged. Reaching out to our Schools Before any form of redesign, we reached out to as many schools as possible. After all, who can tell you better than those who already use the feature? By conducting surveys across multiple schools and interviews with prominent members of the school community, we were able to get insights into their existing needs. We communicated to parents, students, and school staff members. So, what did we find out? Insights The responses from our school communities were extremely valuable and showed the kind of modifications needed for News in Schoolbox. In particular, we realised the following: The primary concern was with information relevance rather than frequency of communication. News Component is considered central to communications. Save For Later is a strongly favoured convenience that is valued across the demographic as it may be perceived as a human-centric active filtering mechanism for fine-tuning. However, a feature like Share With Other Users is most desired by those who receive partially-relevant information; and more favoured by parents and students. A possible need for admin settings to enable optionality and conformance to school-wide policies. Comments would be a valuable tool for meaningful dialogue and verbal exchange but needs to be moderated. Engagement Statistics These insights fuelled further discussion at Schoolbox about how best to measure engagement levels and sparked the concept of building a statistics function that highlighted audience engagement per article. In the interests of user accessibility, we embarked on building visualisations rather than numerical data. The original intention was to provide fairly significant data about an article’s engagement performance with the following: The number of times the article was provided to users. The number of times a user clicked the link to a news article and as a result, viewed the entire article. The number of times a user visited the news article directly. The place where the link appeared; Homepage News Component, an email/notification, the Dashboard News Component or News Archive. We then looked at breaking down engagement data according to role types (ie Staff, Student, Parent or Guest) and the capacity of the user, that is, whether they were teaching staff or year coordinator, etc. However, it soon became apparent that although there was substance to the data, the data needed to be simplified so as to improve the accessibility of the information and enable users to gain valuable insights from their engagement statistics. What does News in Schoolbox look like now? Glad you asked! Taking into account all the feedback from the survey and our internal discussions, the News Component of Schoolbox now contains: Save for Later feature; your audience may be too busy at the time of your publication however your content is relevant, so they can bookmark for later consumption; alternatively, your article may be very good, or very controversial, worthy of remembrance. Comments feature; increase much wanted interaction within your wider school community in a controlled environment, where the author or user with write access can monitor and even turn off comments if required. Introduced the metric Opens; a cumulative total representing the number of times your article was viewed. Opens vs Time feature shows when your article was visited most frequently and how each Role Type responded to your article’s distribution. You can use this function to determine when to set a Publish Time for your articles to maximise readership. Total series feature visualises the entire audience’s cumulative visits across all Role Types. The legends of these graphs are interactive so you can show or hide data at your discretion to isolate a particular section of the graph. Changing the scale allows you to visualise hourly, daily, and monthly trends for articles by grouping data points per hour, day or month. Origins of News Access feature shows where your visits originate. This feature illustrates how users are predominantly accessing your articles and allows you to draw your own conclusions about how to deliver future articles. We Love Feedback Having an engaged school community provides great learning opportunities for K–12 students. At Schoolbox, we understand the importance of an engaged school community and are continuously striving to ensure schools have the appropriate tools to enhance learning opportunities for their students. Our journey to improve the News Component is one of many journeys to provide effective tools for our schools. Although a relatively new redesign, we love to hear feedback on what is working and what is not working so we can act as quickly as possible. If you have any feedback on our News Component redesign, we’d love to hear from you! Chat to a Schoolbox Team member today or take a look at our Product Updates to see what else we’ve been up to. Want to see what other resources we have on offer? Visit our blog page or subscribe to our many resources!