The Communications Module
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The contact list is the means by which you identify the students and therefore the contacts you wish to communicate with. From various options on the left hand side you can choose whether to look for staff or student contact details.
For students, you can choose individuals from the Student Search drop down box or you can choose groups of pupils from the various available options including Year, Form, Club or Dynamic Groups. You can expand sections such as 'Year Groups' by clicking on them.
Once you have selected the group of interest by clicking on it, you can then either add all of the students or click on individual students. Once chosen they will appear on the right hand side along with their listed contacts.
You can remove individuals from the list by clicking on the red cross.
You can then choose which contact order(s) you wish to send the text, email or letter to by ticking the box(es) next to the chosen contact(s).
If you want to clear all the students from the list, use the 'Clear All' function or if you had multiple year groups selected and wish to delete whole year groups, these can be removed from the Include list.
You can create groups of students, for example for visits. The first stage is to generate the list of students by choosing them from the student search bar and once you are happy, select 'Save Group'. Give the list a unique name and save it. You can also update an existing group.
Note: Updating an existing group will erase the old group and save the current list you have selected.
To send text messages from Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This is done by selecting from the Contact List as above.
Once recipients have been selected click on the SMS tab at the top of the page. The box underneath the SMS tab will tell you how many texts are going to be sent.
Type your message in the large text box (up to 160 characters), adding in any of the Dynamic Fields by clicking on them. You can then preview the message for a certain student by selecting them from the 'Preview SMS for' dropdown.
Once you are happy with your text you can then either 'Send SMS' or 'Save as Template'.
Any templates you save will appear on the right hand side of the screen. You can 'Use' or delete these by clicking on the corresponding link.
Note: If you type an SMS message that exceeds the maximum 160 character limit you will get a warning message and the 'Send' button will be removed.
To check back on what texts have been sent you can click into the Usage/Logs tab.
To send emails from Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This can be done from the Contact List as above or you can email directly.
To email directly click onto the Email tab. You will see a box entitled 'Email Directly'. Within here you can type in single or multiple email addresses (separate by a comma and space), a popup will then notify you how many additional email addresses the message will be sent to.
Next, add an Email Subject and then in the box below write and format your email message.
You can add attachments by clicking on the corresponding blue button. If you wish to save your message as a template, click onto the 'Templates' button and save. You can insert previously saved templates from here if needed.
Once you are happy with your message click 'Send Email'. A pop up box will appear to inform you how many emails are about to be sent. Click OK and a confirmation pop up will tell you that the email has been sent.
To check back on what emails have been sent you can click into the Usage/Logs tab.
To send letters from Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This can be done from the Contact List as above. Click onto the Letters tab at the top of the page. Dynamic Fields can be added from the options available above the letter area in a similar way to a Mail Merge, for example add student first name. surname, student form etc.
Once you have typed, formatted and added Dynamic Fields to the content area, choose Print Letter. This will merge the letter for all chosen recipients which can then be exported as a Word document using the blue icon on the top right of the screen under the search bar.
Saving a template from a Word Document
To insert a template from Word, you will need to highlight the text you would like to copy and choose CTRL and C, then in Comms select the letter tab and click the Paste from Word icon.
Once you have selected this icon another window will appear. This window will allow you to paste the selected text by using CTRL and V into the text box then Insert.
Once back to the main body of the letter You can make adjustments before adding the dynamic fields if necessary in the main formatting window.
*The best method for pasting documents from Word is to use the paste keyboard shortcut (CTRL and V) - certain browsers will not allow the user to paste text using the mouse.
To save this template you will need to click the 'Templates' tab in the main text box window at the top, once you have selected this you will be presented with two buttons. Clicking 'Save Template' allows you to give the template a name, category and a brief description.
Loading a Template
To load a saved template click on the 'Templates' tab above the text box window and choose Insert Template. Your saved templates will be listed here. If necessary you can also delete templates in this area.
To generate labels within Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This can be done from the Contact List as above. Clicking on the Labels tab will generate preset labels for the chosen contacts which are automatically downloaded into a 'Word' file at the bottom left hand side of the screen. These are formatted in the following way:
Parent/Guardian of: Student
Within the Comms area labels are not editable, however once exported they can be amended in Word. If you wish to create your own customisable labels this can be done through Reporting>Reports>Student Labels.
Once text messages or emails have been sent, the Usage Logs area keeps a record of the date and time the message was sent and by whom, the subject and content of the message and importantly, the status of the message whether it has been sent or failed to send. There are a number of reasons that would cause a message to fail, examples being an invalid number, a service provider blocking messages or parents and contacts having ended contracts or having changed their number without keeping the school updated.
Within the Usage/Logs table are columns that can be expanded to show more detail, for example the column headed Total Sent will show the number of messages sent. You can click onto this number and it will expand to show you the names of the contacts that the message has gone to and which child they are attached to. In the case of SMS it will also give you the message status. For emails you are able to choose to 'Show full message' for future reference.