Getting Started Texting Students: How to Answer Your Boss's Questions
You’ve known for years that your institution needs to be texting students, but getting your boss on board has been a challenge. Sound familiar? Below are four questions your boss might have about texting students. Use these to guide your texting conversations so you can give your boss answers he or she will love.
1. Is texting FERPA compliant?
Any system you use to store student data must be FERPA compliant. It’s no different for text messaging platforms.
Ask texting providers if their platforms are FERPA compliant and give them bonus points if state or federal education agencies use that platform. In other words, that means it’s been vetted by the people who actually make student privacy rules like FERPA.
Other security things to ask about before your boss asks you are 1) which staff can access student information in the texting platform, 2) what kind of encryption is used, and 3) can students opt out. A truly secure text messaging platform will have role-based permissions for staff users, strong encryption standards, and automated opt-out capability for students.
2. How does it work with our student information system?
Personalized and targeted text messages work best when communicating with students. The easiest way to do this is to connect texting with your student information system. Integrating your system with your text messaging platform also keeps your student information up-to-date in both systems.
Furthermore, ask texting providers how you can integrate the platform with your other systems. Popular integration options are file imports/exports (which rarely require IT to get involved), file sharing through an SFTP server, custom integrations through APIs, and certified integrations with partner student information systems.
3. Do I have to hire more staff?
In fact, there’s no need to hire additional staff to manage texting communications. Many institutions report increased staff capacity as a result of texting! In general, staff find that their jobs are easier when they can quickly reach students.
Keep an eye out for features that help you pre-schedule messages, create targeted lists of students, and measure results. Use these powerful features to easily manage your texting program and report back on the ROI.
4. Who else uses text messaging?
The best way to learn about texting is to talk to your peers who are already texting students. Ask texting providers for references based on your location or program type. In addition, some good questions to ask references are:
- Who on your team writes text messages? Who responds to students’ text messages?
- How often do you send text messages? When do you send text messages?
- What’s the customer support like? Is it strictly technical or do they offer helpful materials and trainings?
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