This paper, commissioned by Contact North | Contact Nord, investigates software, apps and social media that may assist Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) programs in communicating with their stakeholders more effectively, to make the best possible use of program resources. It will focus on Communication and Delivery Technologies and the role they can play in obtaining client feedback and in program delivery.
The paper reviews two growing trends: the use of mobile devices to facilitate communication and the ever-growing world of social media, as both impact the ways in which programs can and should communicate with learners and stakeholders.
The paper confirms that mobile device usage is currently a factor in successful learning and communication within a program. It emphasizes that it is critical that LBS practitioners and managers recognize that increasing numbers of learners will seek to connect with their program using their mobile devices.
To prepare for the increased desire among learners to use their mobile devices more actively in their literacy programming, the paper recommends that LBS providers review apps that have proven useful in communicating with/delivering follow-up messaging to learners. It can be difficult to know which of the many apps that are on the market is worth investigating. The article 21 Helpful Apps for Teachers and Educators is a good place to begin. LBS organizations with practitioners who have mobile devices may wish to download and try one or more of the listed apps, such as Remind. AlphaPlus delivered a webinar about using Remind in November 2016. Practitioners can review AlphaPlus’ recorded Remind webinar or they can download the slides.
The report examines social media and its potential effects on how, when and what is communicated in LBS programs. It reflects the reality that social media is connected to technology, and that social media allows for the creation and sharing of information and ideas via virtual communities and networks.
Most LBS programs do not have the time or the resources to be proficient in the use of all forms of social media. How, then, does a program decide what to invest in? Forum Research’s article, 2015 Canadian Social Media Usage Statistics includes the following helpful information:
Questions around how the use of technology might alleviate the challenges of obtaining client feedback, and exited learners’ follow-up information are considered, together with the issue of survey fatigue. The paper points to the findings of the article In Myths and realities of respondent engagement in online surveys, in which the authors suggest that increasing respondent engagement is based on survey length, topic salience, cognitive burden and frequency of survey requests.
The paper recommends that LBS organizations document the resources they currently invest in client follow up and states that, “if LBS organizations can determine how much client follow up currently costs their organization, especially in terms of human resources, they may find that a new tool is worth investigating, especially if it improves their results and reduces their human resources outlay.”
Tools to Reach Additional Clients
As the need to stay in touch with LBS learners is so critical, this paper highlights three survey companies: Survey Gizmo, mPoll.me, and Client Heartbeat. There are several free survey instruments on the market that LBS agencies can access, but these survey companies may provide some additional benefits.
Benefits and Features
· Assists with survey administration across teams (might be useful if you have more than one programming site)
· Can also be used on an individual level (within one organization)
· Brand customization (add your logo and organization’s colours for consistent branding)
· 40+ types of survey questions
· Industry leading security
· Mobile friendly
· Data analysis and reporting tools
· Average 65% survey response rate
· All plans come with Custom SenderID (so users know who’s contacting them) and real-time results
· Brand customization (add your logo and organization’s colours) for consistent branding
· Sends periodic surveys
· Average 60% survey response rate
· Testimonial Widget. Easily display positive testimonials on your website.
· Log in to your company dashboard to view current and past results for each of your customers or company as a whole.
On the Downside
· A more sophisticated program – could be a bit overwhelming for small programs
· Only for mobile devices
· No free plan – just a free trial
Tools to Get Feedback on Website Usability
Since, increasingly, LBS agencies are relying on their websites to attract and inform their customers, the report provides information on potential products that can provide insight into how customers experience the sites. Below, two such products are compared: Qualaroo and UserTesting.com
Benefits and Features
· Qualaroo makes it easy to survey specific groups of website visitors to gain qualitative information.
· Get a clear picture of who your customers are, and what they're looking for on your site.
· Qualaroo surveys lets you target questions to visitors anywhere on your website
· Offers exit survey options – find out why people are leaving your site
· Can access different levels of support
· Get audio, video and written feedback on websites and apps
· Get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your website or mobile app. Go beyond analytics and understand why users do what they do.
Start-up Plan: $199/month
Basic: $99 per video (note: website has offer of $49/video for first 10 videos)
You can request a free trial
For more intensive service, you need to get a pricing quote
Tools to Improve Use of Social Media
The report also reviews several social media communication tools for LBS organizations’ consideration: Google Not for Profits, Google Alerts, and Audiense.
Google for NonProfits
Benefits and Features
· Free access to Google tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Ad Grants, YouTube for Nonprofits and more
· Google Ad Grants alone can increase your organization’s profile substantially
· Find out everything happening related to literacy. Enter “literacy” or whatever word you choose and find out what’s in the news and on social media
· Keeps you informed
· Build new audiences
· Understand your audiences
· Deliver the right experience
· From $31/month
The paper concludes that, historically, LBS programs in Ontario have done an excellent job of communicating what they do, how they do it, and the benefits of their work and suggests that as times and technology change, new opportunities for communication develop and require exploration.