Skip to main content
All Posts By

Will

Video Call Testing/Settings

By Software Updates No Comments

With hundreds of schools, and tens of thousands of parents using Parents Booking for their parent-teacher meetings, and with these being video meetings very often, we’ve been adding new features to help parents and teachers test their “device” (laptop/PC, Mac, iPad/iPhone, Android), in the simplest way possible, before having their video meetings. The below video shows you how…

Adding a gap / ‘buffer’ time between appointments

By Software Updates No Comments

One of the most-requested features this academic year, due to schools having video meetings in often multiple-hour sessions, has been to be able to add a small gap of time between appointments.

This is now possible. Next time you create a parents’ evening you’ll notice a ‘buffer time’ feature. Simply use this to add a small gap between appointments.

Creating a .CSV file to upload your school’s pupils, parents and classes

By News and Info No Comments

Schools who use MIS/SIS databases that do not integrate with Parents Booking can create a custom .CSV file that can be uploaded. This blog post features instructions on how to create your own .CSV upload.

This instructions feature two possible solutions. If one does not suit your MIS/SIS databases’ export capabilities, try the other. We believe that Option 1 is the easier option in general.

Option 1: The 2-Spreadsheet Solution

This option involves two spreadsheets, but is easier for most MIS/SIS databases. The logic is that spreadsheet 1 lists the pupils and parents, and spreadsheet 2 links the students to their classes and teachers using their student ID number.

Download spreadsheet 1 template and Download spreadsheet 2 template

The data fields required for spreadsheet 1 are:

  • Student ID
  • Student Forename
  • Student Surname
  • Student Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Student Registration Group or Year Group
  • Parent/carer Title
  • Parent/carer Forename
  • Parent/carer Surname
  • Parent/carer Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer Email

You can list a pupil on two different rows to link them to 2nd parent/carer.

Rules: Do not extract parent/carers who do not have “parental responsibility” / legal rights.

Save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV (Comma Delimited)”.

The data fields required for spreadsheet 2 are:

  • Student ID
  • Class Code
  • Teacher Title
  • Teacher Forename
  • Teacher Surname
  • Subject Name

Save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV (Comma Delimited).

These spreadsheets are then uploaded in the following order:

  1. Spreadsheet 1 – Pupils and Parents
  2. Spreadsheet 2 – Classes

OR

Option 2: The 1-Spreadsheet Solution

This option is more complex than option 1, but creates one spreadsheet which links a student to one or two parents/carers and all of their teachers. There are two ‘styles’ possible, one which shows the student and parent on every row, and one where the teachers/classes are listed on otherwise blank rows between each student, but both work in the same way.

Download spreadsheet template (style 1) OR Download spreadsheet template (style 2)

The data fields required are:

  • Student ID
  • Student Forename
  • Student Surname
  • Student Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Student Reg Group / Year Group
  • Parent/carer 1 ID
  • Parent/carer 1 Username (not required, but keep column)
  • Parent/carer 1 Title
  • Parent/carer 1 Forename
  • Parent/carer 1 Surname
  • Parent/carer 1 Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer 1 E-Mail
  • Parent/carer 2 ID
  • Parent/carer 2 Username (not required, but keep column)
  • Parent/carer 2 Title
  • Parent/carer 2 Forename
  • Parent/carer 2 Surname
  • Parent/carer 2 Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer 2 E-Mail
  • Department
  • Subject
  • Class Code
  • Teacher ID
  • Teacher Name
  • Room (not required, but keep column)

Rules: Do not extract parent/carers who do not have “parental responsibility” / legal rights.

Save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV (Comma Delimited)”.

Asking for parent phone numbers, for telephone meetings

By Software Updates No Comments

If you would like to use Parents Booking to help facilitate telephone meetings, in the place of ‘in-person’ meetings, or video meetings, we can help.

In the Admin Area, go to: Set Up School > Parent Login Method. On this page tick “Mobile Phone”.

This will activate a new field on the parent login page which asks for the parent’s mobile number. The mobile number input by the parent will then show on the teachers’ appointment schedule. Et voila!

How to Run a Video Call Test

By News and Info

We recommend that schools run tests of video call module before using it for real parents’ evenings, to ensure it will work as well as can be on the day.

It is also vital that networks/firewalls are configured to ‘allow’ the video calls to take place on the school’s network and teacher ‘devices’ (see more on this at the bottom of this article).

The two tests we suggest are below:

Test One: Run a Network test using the Twilio Network Tester:

https://networktest.twilio.com/
Please also note the information at the bottom of this post about information for your IT team.

Test Two: Test with Teachers

Schools should check that the devices teachers plan to use are compatible with the video call technology. This can be done simply by asking teachers to login to their Parents Booking account and click the ‘Video Settings’ button on their Dashboard. This will allow them to test their internet browser is compatible, and that their webcam and microphone work. Teachers can also run the ‘network test’ detailed in Test One above.

The instructions (PDF file) for teachers on how to join the video calls goes into further detail on internet browser and device compatibility.

This blog post details how to set up a more cumbersome but in-depth test, where you set up fake parent accounts and have teachers and ‘fake parents’ book appointments between each other.

Information for your IT/server team:

Media / UDP Network Settings :

– Schools need to allow Port 443 / HTTPS traffic and IT/network teams should be aware these video calls will happen over an encrypted peer-to-peer (P2P) connection, making any network adjustments required.

– Ensure *.Twilio.com URLs are whitelisted.

– Smoothwall/firewall users should add Twilio.com to ‘authentication exceptions’ in Smoothwall’s policies. Some Smoothwall users have also had to modify the’ default outgoing policy’ to allow ‘any internal interfaces’ to access ‘any external interfaces’.

– Our video meetings through Twilio.com generate lots of UDP connections, which school firewalls (or ISP DDOS blocking software) may well be setup to block/drop if they consider them to be a UDP flood attack, and we have seen this on rare occasions. Consider disabling UDP flood protection, or adding Twilio.com as an exception to this part of your firewall, if you find (while using the Twilio Network Test) that the number of UDP connections allowed is much lower than it should be, or if video/audio quality is poor during real video meetings (because these should be crystal clear). Video meetings with anything less than a perfect video, or where the audio and video are not in sync, should be taken as a clue to some sort of disruption caused possibly by a factor such as this.

– We’re also aware that adding chunderw-vpc-gll.twilio.com into to the SSL Inspection exceptions for a firewall has been of significant help to some schools, including those who use Sophos SG UTM as their firewall.

– Finally, we advise whitelisting the most local “media servers” from this list of Twilio IP address ranges. You can also go to your school’s Parents Booking ‘admin area’ > Set Up School page > Preferences page button (bottom left corner, orange button) and choose a region, rather than using “Global Low Latency”, if you want to be certain about which IPs should be whitelisted.

Information for Edinburgh Council schools:

At the time of writing schools/teachers should not use the LTAD network for their view meetings as this seems to be blocking the video meetings (although it does seem to work at some schools). Please advise teachers to use either the LTAP_P or LT_Open networks.

Information for HP Laptops/Computers

One school has reported that where there were issues with the camera and mic not working on HP laptops and computers, this was resolved by removing the Cyberlink YouCam application.

New parents’ website design

By EdTech Discussion No Comments

We have recently given the parents’ area a fresh lick of paint. Below are some screenshots which show how some of the website now looks. As well as looking more modern and ‘cleaner’, the website now looks even better at mobile and tablet resolution. We hope you and your parents will appreciate the upgrade!

Setting up a video test ‘session’ between teachers and ‘fake’ parents

By EdTech Discussion No Comments

Use the instructions below to set up a test without having to involve real parents. This testing process suggests diving teachers into two groups (half are to login with their usual teacher login, and half will pretend to be a fake parent):

  1. Login to Parents Booking as an admin
  2. Go to the Parents page and create (or upload, see below) some fake parents, and at the same time create fake students.
    N.B. You do not need to give the fake parents an e-mail or telephone number.
  3. Write down/remember the parent and student names and student DOBs, because the “parents” will use these as their logins later. When creating the students, add them to a new “Test” registration group, this will make the next few steps easier.
    N.B. As an alternative to creating lots of fake students, you can download and then upload this spreadsheet of fake parents (Scottish/SEEMIS schools should use this version).
  4. Go to the Teachers page and add the students from the Test reg group to the teachers who are going to be part of the test (OR make a new, fake teacher and add the students to them).
    N.B. We suggest making a new subject for each teacher called “Video Testing” and adding the ‘Test’ reg group students to this.
  5. Once the students are added to the teachers, make sure the half of the teachers who will be testing by logging in as a teacher have been sent a password or have set up their login. To do this check if the teachers have a e-mail address against their account on the Teachers page.
    If they do, you can skip this step.
    If they do not, type/paste an e-mail in for these teachers and press ‘Save Rooms/Emails’ at the top of the page to send teachers their login. This will change the ‘Login Setup’ column to a blue Password Sent message. If this is still showing red and ‘Not Configured’ you can tick these teachers and press ‘Email Password Reset’ at the top of the Teachers page.
    N.B. Make sure teachers users log out of Parents Booking, if they were logged in recently as a parent/admin/teacher, before they try to reset their password or they will not be able to set up a password from the link in the e-mail, and instead will see an ‘Access Denied’ page).
  6. Create a parents’ evening for the ‘Test’ registration group, at the dates and times you want to have a test on.
  7. Have the fake parents book some appointments, either via the admin area > Manage Booking or via the school’s parent login page, before the video meetings are scheduled to take place. Meetings which are booked become video meetings, so having bookings between teachers are parents is important.
  8. Then, lastly, have everyone login 5-15mins before their appointments and join the video calls, to make sure the video calls work.