Video Calls

Schools can now facilitate parent-teacher meetings by video call, as well as by the traditional in-person format.

Our clever video calls ‘bolt-on’ will automatically convert all appointments booked into video call meetings which parents and teachers can join by simply re-logging in to our website, like they do normally, on the day of parents’ evening.

You can watch a demonstration of how the video call functionality works on this web page.

The benefits or hosting meetings by video call are tremendous and include:

  • Replace in-person meetings with video calls for ‘social distancing’ purposes in the short term
  • Removes hurdles that traditionally prevent parents attending in-person, e.g. because of work commitments, inability to travel or perhaps disability
  • Meetings will finish exactly on time; parents and teachers appointments will run exactly to time now
  • Parent schedules no longer require ‘walking time’ between appointments, meaning parents’ time commitment to parents’ evening can literally be halved
  • Teachers can create ‘1-to-1’ video call meetings with selected parents, as and when required
  • Increase privacy; conversations cannot be heard by other parents who, in a traditional setting, may be sat nearby
  • Hundreds of thousands of cars are taken off the road, making it a very green alternative to the traditional system

I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t our school just use Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, etc?

Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, etc, require someone to set up all of the meetings. Primary schools typically have 500-1500 parents’ evening appointments per year, while secondary schools average around 3,500, but we have customers who have up to 10,000 annually.

Not only does our video calls ‘bolt-on’ automatically convert all of your appointments into video calls, it saves an admin from having to share ‘personal information’ belonging to a parent/teacher with these other systems, which, beyond the GDPR compliance, might have meant typos or mistakes that rendered a video meeting useless.

The other major benefit is that parents/teachers do not have to download any software to have their video calls. All they need is a computer or smart device and a modern internet browser.

Activating Video Calls

Most schools can add the Video Calls module to their school’s Parents Booking subscription automatically, either from their admin area’s Dashboard, or by visiting the ‘View Contract’ page in their admin area and clicking on ‘Manage Modules’.

Certain schools, such as those whose subscription is bought through a local authority, will not be able to do this. Instead please complete the form on this web page or contact hello@parents-booking.com and we will assist you.

Compatibility

The video call technology is integrated into the web browser being used by the parent and teacher, which means that there is no software to download, such as there would be if you used Teams, Skype, Zoom or WebEx. However, parents and teachers will need to use a modern internet browser. Below is a table of the supported internet browsers, depending on the operating system being used:

Apple iPhone/iPad (must be iOS 11+): Safari
Android:
Chrome or Firefox
Windows:
Chrome, Firefox or Edge (Chromium)
Mac:
Safari, Chrome or Firefox
Linux:
Chrome or Firefox

If a parent or teacher logs in for a video call using an unsupported internet browser, they will be advised which browser to use instead.

Schools should use the instructions in this blog post to run a test of both their network and teachers’ devices, to understand their readiness. The post also details how to set up an internal trial with teachers, and the IT/network settings that have helped schools make their network compatible.

Cost

Each school’s video calls are required to be paid for by the school. If you would like a quote, please complete the form on this web page, however we advise that medium-sized primary schools set aside £50 to cover an academic year’s use, while the biggest secondary schools should set aside up to £300 for an academic year’s use.

Q&A / FAQs

Q: Can we have a parents’ evening which is both a video call and has in-person meetings?
A: Yes.

Q: Can more than one parent or teacher join the video call (e.g. 3+ participants)?
A: Not at present, but we do plan to allow this by early 2021.

Q: Do appointments automatically switch to the next appointments?
A: Yes. When your first appointment finishes the web page will refresh and you are automatically taken to your next appointment.

Q: Can parents or teachers delay the appointment from finishing at its scheduled time, if needed?
A: No, and we hope this will be a largely positive change, easing past frustrations with schedules becoming out of sync. To keep appointments exactly to their schedule, all appointments will finish exactly on time, so the next appointment can start. However, we have added ‘1-to-1 Meeting’ facility for teachers, if they want to create follow-up video meetings.

Q: Can teachers set up their own “1-to-1” video meetings with parents?
A: Yes they can, although schools can turn this ability off if preferred.

Q: Can meetings be recorded?
A: We have intentionally not added this functionality, but we are collecting feedback and feature requests, so do let us know if your school would want this feature, for future reference/feedback reasons.

If you cannot see the video above, Vimeo.com may be blocked at your school. Try this YouTube Link instead.

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