Using SchoolBridge Alert Messages
The ability to send alert messages to your community is a major reason to use the SchoolBridge App and helps keep your community abreast of important news and information.
Types of Alert Messages
SchoolBridge allows you to send three different kinds of alert messages: free push notifications, SMS text messages, and emails.
Free App Push Notifications
These messages are free to send but only reach users that have the SchoolBridge App installed on their device. Alerts can be used to send important messages consisting of 140 characters or less and can also include a link so that when the user taps the message they are then to a page on your website or anywhere on the internet to provide them with more information.
Where are Push Alerts Received?
Push alerts are only received by recipients that have installed and signed in to the SchoolBridge App. The alert messages sent will show in the users lock screen or notifications display area as well within the SchoolBridge app. Whether a sent alert makes the recipient’s device make a sound or flashes an alert on the screen, can also depend on the user’s alert settings.
SMS Text Messages
If the message that you want to send is important enough that you want to make sure that even users that do not have the app installed receive it, you can opt to additionally send your message as an SMS text message. It is also important to note that you will only be able to send SMS text messages to users that have a mobile phone number entered for them in your student management system. SMS messages are also the only type of alert message that users can reply to.
SMS Text message will display in the messaging app that they have installed on their phone and may also display on the users lock screen or notifications area depending on their settings.
SMS Text Costs
SMS Text messages always involve a fee to send, but by default SchoolBridge will only send text messages to users that do not have the app installed to save you money. If your message is critically important, you can also tick an option to override this and force the sending of the message to all of the recipients on your send list.
The cost of sending SMS text messages is an important issue to consider when deciding on how your team will be using the alert message system in SchoolBridge. Before you send an alert, the system will show you a complete overview of the costs involved according to the settings you have chosen and the number of recipients so there are no surprises. To further control costs, permissions can be set so that only certain members of your staff have the ability to send SMS Text messages.
The alert message system in SchoolBridge also allows you to send your message as an email. Sending an email copy of your alert has several advantages. The email copy of your message will reach recipients that do not have the app installed, or may not have the device they have the app on with them. Email messages can also be longer than push or sms messages, and can contain simple formatting including clickable links to web pages or files stored on the internet.
One effective combination is to use the app push alert message to inform recipients that you have sent them an email that contains more details while you use the email function to compose and the email the push alert refers to. That way you can use the push notification to alert recipients to the email you have sent them in one step.
Email messages sent by the SchoolBridge Alert system are standard email messages and recipients will view the emails as they usually do. Some portion of your recipients may receive emails via their mobile devices, but this will not be true in all cases.
Promoting the App To Reduce Costs
There are many reasons to promote use of the SchoolBridge App to your community, but an important consideration is how it can help you reduce costs when sending alert messages. The more students, staff and caregivers that you have using the app, the more of your community can receive free push notifications and the less need you will have to send SMS Text alert messages.
It is all important to remember that promoting use of the app is a continual process as new enrols enter the school each year.
Inbox Design provides a variety of resources to help you promote the app. These resources are detailed in the App Rollout Guide which can be found in the App Settings in the SchoolBridge Settings area.
Setting Permissions to Send Alerts
The alert message system in SchoolBridge is a powerful tool to help you communicate with your community. Alerts can only be sent by staff, and it is important to consider which staff can send alerts as the system enables your team to send messages to your entire community when required.
To help you control who can send alerts, users must be given permission to do so. At a minimum we recommend the following permission groups be created:
SB Alert Admin - Users in this groups should have permissions to send Push, SMS and email messages
SB Push Alerts Admin - Users in this group should have permissions to send free push notifications and emails.
For a detailed help guide on creating permission groups for SchoolBridge click here
Enabling Alert Messages
In order for your staff to be able to send alert messages you need to add the icon for it to the SchoolBridge staff dashboard.
Click on Settings > Dashboards and then click the tab for the Staff View
Click + Add which is always the last icon tile in the preview of icons
From the Pages selection box choose Alert Messages
Once the icon is added to the dashboard you will notice that it displays the user permission icon in the top right corner. This denotes that access is controlled by the staff user permissions and users that do not have permission to send alerts will not see the icon on the dashboard. Make sure you have given the permissions to the users in your test group that you want to be able to test sending alerts.
Now that the icon is added to the staff dashboard, your team can begin to send alerts and test using the system.
Sending a New Alert Message
To send a new message, click on New Message. This brings you into the message composition view where you can enter your free push alert message and set the options that control if you are also sending a SMS Text message and/or email message. The free push notification is not optional.
The first section of the composition view is where you enter the text for the free push alert.
This is the title of the push notification and will show on the alert notification screen of your recipients. Make sure to give your message a good title that provides useful information.
This is the body of the message and is limited to 140 characters (this makes it important to make good use of the title)
Include a Link (optional)
This option allows to to include that link with the alert message. When recipients revive the alert and tap the message either on their phone’s lock screen or within the SchoolBridge App, they will be taken to the link. Usually you would use this feature to provide recipients with a link to give them more information about the subject the alert is about. The link could point to a page you have created on your website or to a file that is hosted on line that you want your recipients to read.
This section is all that is required if you only want to send a push notification.
Sending a SMS Text Message with the Alert
Every alert message that you send can optionally be sent as a SMS Text message, by ticking the** Send SMS/TXT to recipients without the SchoolBridge app box.
You enter in your message again (or copy and paste), and note that SMS/text messages do not have a title and are limited to 160 characters.
When you use the SMS Text option, by default the system will only send the SMS Text message to recipients that do not have the SchoolBridge App installed. Users that do have the app installed will only receive the free push app alert. You can see which recipients have the app by looking at the App column in the list of recipients.
This default behaviour is designed to reduce your school’s costs by sending fewer SMS Text messages when possible. If you have an important message that you want to be seen as widely as possible, you can also force SchoolBridge to send an SMS Text to everyone on your list (see below).
Send SMS/TEXT to all recipients
If your message is of critical importance, you can force SchoolBridge to send SMS text messages to all recipients, including those who have installed the app. This would mean that users who may have installed the app on a different device than they have with them at the time you send you message.
Remember that whenever you send SMS text messages your school will incur a cost. Before you send the alert you will see a confirmation window that will show you recipient totals per user type (students, caregivers and staff) totals per message type (push alerts , text messages and emails) as well as an estimated cost if you have chosen to send your message as an SMS txt.
You can reduce costs by only sending push alerts and emails, as well as using the filter options to limit the number of people that the message is sent to (see Adding Recipients below).
Send an Email with the Alert
The last option allows you to also send an email with the alert. This feature allows you to send the alert message to recipients that do not have the app installed, and is a great way to send your recipients additional information when the 140 character limit is not enough to convey the message you wish to send.
To send an email with your alert, tick the Send Email Notification. This causes an email composition pane to appear and your push alert message is automatically copied for you, which you can then edit or expand as needed.
The section under Recipients provides you with the options to add recipients of the alert from among your students, caregivers and staff.
Staff can be added individually by clicking into the box under staff and searching by name or staff code.
Adding Students & Caregivers
Because students and caregivers are linked within your student management system, these recipients are added together. When you want to send an alert to only students or only caregivers, you can use the filter options to exclude the group that you do not intend the message for (see below).
As with adding staff, you can add student and caregiver recipients individually by searching in the Select Students field, or you can use the Bulk Add option** to add groups of recipients.
Bulk Add Options
The bulk add options allow you to add recipients in bulk groups by several useful methods. It is also important to understand that you can return to the options multiple times to create the list of recipients you need (including the individual selection option).
Bulk Student IDs - This option will open a window where you can paste in a list of student ID numbers that you have generated from your student management system or elsewhere. SchoolBridge scans the ID numbers and adds the matching students with their caregivers as recipients.
Group - This option gives you access to the groups stored in your student management system, so you can target alerts at groups like “2023 Cricket Team” or “Chess Team”. If the group you are looking for is not showing, it may have been added recently and has not yet been synced to SchoolBridge.
Subject - This option gives you access to your class subjects to add recipients.
Year Level - This option allows you to add student and caregiver recipients by year level and you can select as many year levels as you need to build your recipient list.
The filter options allow you to refine the list of recipients to adjust who will receive the alert message. As you tick the filter options, you will see the tick indicators change in your list of recipients. Recipients in your list without the tick mark next to their name will not receive the alert message. When considering whether or not to send an SMS Text message, you can use the filter options to only send the alert to a single caregiver to reduce costs.
You can also manually tick or untick individual recipients as needed.
All - Ticking this option will enable or disable all of the recipients in the list.
Staff - Ticking this option will enable or disable all of the staff recipients in the list.
Staff - Ticking this option will enable or disable all of the student recipients in the list. The caregivers attached to the student will not be affected.
Primary Caregivers - Ticking this option will enable or disable all primary caregivers. Additionally you can tick the 1st or 2nd options to disable or enable the first or second primary caregiver.
Secondary Caregivers - This option works exactly the same as the primary caregiver option for secondary caregivers.
Reset - This option removes all of the recipients from your list when you need to start over.
The list of recipients shows you useful information to help you gauge how your alert will be received. The column in the list shows your recipients email address, mobile phone number, as well a column that indicates if they have the app.
For each user in the App column you will see a green or a hollow dot. A green dot indicates that the recipient has installed and signed in to the app. If you have an important message to send, you can use this information to help you decide if you should send an SMS text message or not.
Sending the Alert Message
It is important to double-check your messages (Push, SMS Text, Email) as well as your recipient list and filter options before you send an alert message.
If you have double checked your messages and your recipient settings and are ready to send, click the Send Now button at the top of the screen
Doing this will invoke the confirmation screen showing you totals for how many messages will be sent to student, caregivers and staff, as well as an estimated total cost if you are using the SMS Text option.
Send Now - Click this button to send the alert. Depending on your options the left will be put in the queue and recipients should start to receive the notification within a few minutes.
Send Later - this option allows you to set a scheduled time for the alert to be sent. Please be aware that you must set the correct day and time you wish the message to be sent.
Viewing Sent Messages & App User Stats
To view sent alert messages or send a new one, click the Alert Messages icon from the staff dashboard.
Viewing Past Messages
The messages screen gives you an overview of all the messages that have been sent from all of your staff members. To view details about a specific message you can click the title of the message next to the Sent badge.
The message details page will show exactly who the message was sent to and if the message was sent as a SMS Text message you can view recipient replies.
App User Statistics
You can view detailed statistics about how many users have the app installed by clicking the Statistics button in the upper right hand corner. In addition to apps installed per user group, you can also view totals for the number of users you have mobile phone number for recorded in your student management system. Clicking the group options along the top allows you to see exactly which of you users have the app installed and details about the kind of device they are using.
Updated on: 16/04/2023