A newly released study has found that schools and school districts are making greater use of platforms like Facebook and web portals to better communicate with parents, community members, staff and other key stakeholders.

According to the report, titled “Trends in Communications Priorities and Challenges,” education leaders are opening up more channels of communication between schools and home, aiming to increase family and community engagement in new ways. This is because of well-known studies indicating that students who have parents actively involved with their education are much more likely to find academic success and have better attendance rates.

The report includes some of the following interesting statistics:

  • 93 percent of communications officers report parents as being their district’s primary audience
  • 53 percent of those officers say they are actively engaged in seeking out collaborations with certain key partners
  • 40 percent of communications officers say they have engaged in networking among local community groups as a part of their engagement strategies

There are certainly plenty of tools school districts can use to communicate with parents. However, having such a large variety to choose from can actually make it more difficult to deliver a consistent message and keep parents, administrators and teachers in sync. For example, while some parents may prefer to use mobile apps, others may prefer emails or text messages.

Why Facebook and web portals?

Of the communications tools discussed in the survey, Facebook and school web portals were the two most-used solutions out of a list that also included face-to-face meetings, text messages, phone calls, emails and mobile apps.

Facebook can be a particularly effective solution because it engages parents through a channel on which they are already spending a good portion of their free time. They are more likely to see district messages posted on Facebook because they are already browsing newsfeeds anyway. District mobile apps, for example, require parents to specifically download and check the app. Face-to-face meetings can be difficult to arrange, as it requires some careful scheduling.

School portals are an effective solution for different reasons than Facebook. They allow parents to log in, check homework assignments and grades and get more in-depth information on their children’s education. Whereas Facebook offers general information about the district and is a great way to share important announcements, portals provide more personalized communication.

Determining the right tools and techniques to use comes down to good communications planning. This may include a survey to find out what your families and other stakeholders need and how you can best reach them on a consistent basis. Only then will you know the right ways to boost your school district’s communication efforts.