As Head of Marketing at SkoolBag, I’m excited to introduce some new chapters in SkoolBag’s evolution and explain why we’ve rebuilt the SkoolBag app from the ground-up in the very latest technology.
Our vision remains to bring every school community closer together. Our investment in the future will ensure your school meets the ever-changing expectations of your community.
This post gives you the details on three excited developments for SkoolBag - the recent V3 Upgrade, moving to the SkoolBag single app and the ALL new app (coming soon).
V3 Upgrade = More Control
After much consultation with our app users and school staff, we recently evolved the SkoolBag platform with our V3 upgrade.
SkoolBag was one of the first to connect schools and parents through their smartphones. However, technology has evolved a lot in the last six years.
In today’s era of instant messaging, social media and rapidly changing technologies, communication overload is becoming a very real and increasingly common issue.
It is no longer expected that schools simply send one message to all of their community. Parents expect a personalised approach.
Like all of us, parents expect to control how and when they receive notifications. They expect to only receive information that is relevant to them and to be able to access information across their devices.
User registrations and groups now give schools and parents more control than ever over how they receive relevant information from schools via SkoolBag.
User registrations allow your parents to set their preferences once, and ensure that they only receive notifications that are relevant to their family’s school life. Registrations also give our schools visibility over who is engaging with your content to ensure you can continue to deliver communications in the most efficient manner possible.
This could be sending reminders to parents who have yet to complete a permission slip. Or an email to members of a group for a specific sports activity.
The single SkoolBag App: more features and improved reliability
Keeping parents’ attention requires richer, seamless mobile experiences
The next step in continuing to satisfy our users’ expectations will be offering deeper, richer experiences and more features within our app.
To facilitate this, we have already begun the process of migrating our schools from their own ‘branded’ apps to the single SkoolBag app.
Moving your community to the single SkoolBag app has many advantages:
1. There’s no risk Apple will remove your school’s app from the App Store
In late 2017 Apple made an important update to their app store guidelines, discouraging companies like SkoolBag from providing low-cost “template” apps to their customers.
4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.
In-line with this recommendation we have already moved to a container app model, which enables you to access the same app functionality, from within the free “SkoolBag” app.
You will still have access to your school’s separately branded app for the duration of your subscription period, however, there is a risk that Apple will remove your separately branded app from the app store.
2. Parents with children at multiple schools can add them to their single app
Over 100,000 parents have children at more than one SkoolBag school. With the SkoolBag app they can add multiple schools. So switching to the single app means parents are likely to see updates from your school.
3. More updates, new features and faster support
Less time spent maintaining individual apps for schools, means more time improving the app experience for your admins. With a single app model, we can launch more updates and new features to bring your community together. We recently doubled the size of our support team. Moving to the new app will be the best way to access ongoing updates and support.
Whilst your own app will still be available in the app store, we will no longer be providing support, updates and bug fixes for your separately branded app.
4. The all-new SkoolBag app will blow you away!
Everything you love about SkoolBag will be available in the new app, plus features which many schools have requested.
One big one will be to give Admins the ability to send updates directly from the app! Imagine sending sports team pictures whilst the game is still in-play. Or School bus running late? Send a quick update from your mobile.
Coming soon: all-new SkoolBag App
To date, the technology powering SkoolBag has been based around “web applications” - essentially web pages wrapped up into an app for our schools. This has enabled us to offer a highly accessible product, that is loved by thousands of schools at a highly competitive price.
However, the future of mobile technology is “native” applications, apps built specifically for Apple or Android devices which enable far richer experiences and can speak to other apps and platforms.
The new SkoolBag app is built ‘native’, and will, therefore, enable us to deliver against and exceed our users' expectations by launching new features faster, personalising their experience and integrating with other platforms our schools use.
An ecosystem approach - better connections to other services
We want SkoolBag to be your community’s feed for school life. This means providing connections to other systems and services. The new ‘native’ app is built with connectivity in mind. Whether it’s taking payments on mobiles, booking parent-teacher interviews or asking your smart-speaker what’s happening at your school this week. SkoolBag will have it in the bag.
What this means for your school and when things will change
Update your app download instructions and ensure you tell parents to use the “SkoolBag” app. Parents have been loving our Single SkoolBag app since last year - so get onboard!
We’ll start making the new ‘native’ app available (it will be a simple, automatic update from the Single SkoolBag app - you won’t need to communicate it or do anything). You’ll have access to our full support articles detailing the changes before this happens.