As you increase the number of students using a communication or learning tool, the financial investment of a school district grows as well. This was certainly true of Plainfield Community School Corporation, when it found success with Gaggle Safety Management and decided to protect more students using Office 365.
“We started to expand our numbers, and based on our budget, we looked at some other options,” recalled John Crum, Director of Technology at Plainfield Community Schools. That search led the district to switch to SchoolMessenger SafeMail.
Soon after making the change, Plainfield schools realized that the additional time and effort needed to manage the SchoolMessenger product offset any cost savings. “Our business practices and expectations didn’t align with the way SafeMail is set up,” said John. “From the beginning, it was a challenge.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle was how SchoolMessenger was incorrectly reporting student incidents and emergencies. For example, on some occasions, SafeMail would send a notification to a middle school principal about a student who didn’t attend that school.
Plainfield provides students in grades 6-12 with Office 365 accounts, which include access to email and OneDrive. Another problem was how administrators received emergency messages from SchoolMessenger. “Gaggle makes it so much easier for us to read and understand what is going on with our students,” said John. “That’s so important when you’re dealing with a serious situation.”
While John points out that both companies can help school districts ensure the safety of students on school-issued tools like Office 365, he also understands that the role of any edtech vendor is to provide ease of use and effectiveness.
“You never want technology to create more work for administrators and staff,” he said. “They just don’t have time to do more work. Gaggle provides so much flexibility, allowing us to make sure any notifications go directly to our building contacts, whether that’s a principal, counselor or someone else.”
After hearing from building principals and other administrators who were experiencing these newfound issues, Plainfield schools made the decision less than one year later to return to Gaggle Safety Management.
“We’re buying back our time,” said John. “Our administrators understood the economics, but when we decided to switch back to Gaggle, I emailed them, and it took about 30 seconds to receive messages with their full support.”