For the last year, I had been working my butt off trying to get students to participate in tech training sessions that I’d spend hours preparing and advertising for – only to have about 7 people sign up and only 2-4 people attend (one of which was Gavin, my boss). I’d maximized, so-I-thought, all avenues of communication:

  • PA system announcements
  • School-Wide Schoology updates
  • Group specific updates
  • Digital signage
  • Google Forms
  • Naviance email to parents
  • Emails to students
  • Incentives provided by Academic Support
  • Paper posters
  • Word of mouth by Dragon Success mentors, tutors, counselors, and teachers
  • … I even got in trouble for posting it to the school’s official Google Calendar

But, still, 4 (or 2) attendees?!

Maybe it was because I invited a well-loved teacher – Mr. Pham – as a guest speaker, but maybe it was also where I communicated it within Schoology.

Instead of creating a school-wide Schoology update where I described the session and hyperlinked a Google Form RSVP, I invited all students to a Schoology event within a group which included all 1,246 students. Within 6 hours of sending out the invite, 40 people RSVP’ed saying they were coming. After 2 days, I had 140. Note that I didn’t use any other method of communication on the long list above.

Mind blown.

How could one change make such a big difference in participation? What exactly was I doing differently that increased such a response? To figure these questions out, I used our Schoology dummy account to recreate the student experience. Here’s my analysis of what happened:

  1. Students are bombarded with announcements on their news feeds. I speculate that my posts would quickly get pushed down the homepage whenever a colleague teacher posted to a course or the school. Most would get an email notification about my post, but the reality is, our kids are already getting spammed with hundreds of other emails.
  2. Fewer clicks. I used to embed a Google Form into an update, which would redirect students to a new survey in order to RSVP. Of the students that even saw the post, they would then need to click to another page to RSVP.
  3. A direct request to 2 locations. This event wasn’t posted to the “Recent Activity” page, nor did students get an email about it. Instead, students got the same “Request” in 2 locations on their home page. And best of all, they can accept it right there and then. No fuss about going to a different website to click accept – it’s all right there in one place.
    Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.39.58 PM
    Find it in the “Request” icon next to mail and notifications button.
    Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.39.35 PM
    Find requests in an invitation under the “To-Do” Assignments listed on the right of the homepage.
  4. It goes on their Schoology calendar. Along with all other “to do” tasks assigned by teachers, my little event stays on their “Upcoming Events” list until the event has passed.Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 2.47.43 PM

Now, whether or not these 140 students show up, I’m still ecstatic that I even received a thirty-five fold response about the training! So this is what I learned: First – make sure they see your message. Second – don’t make them click too much.

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