Flinders Christian Community College is an independent, coeducational, and interdenominational Christian School with multiple campuses in Victoria, Australia. As a Christian School (who also caters to those outside the faith), Flinders seeks to work with parents and guardians to develop principled, thoughtful, and analytical young people who will be prepared to take a purposeful place in the community. 

We sat down with Monica Wulff, the Head of Marketing and Enrollments at Flinders, to learn more about Flinder’s journey with their Digistorm App, and how the app has helped their school.

The challenge

“I’m Monica Wulff and I head up marketing and enrollments and administration for Flinders Christian Community College. We’re based down in Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, with three campuses. One in Carum Downs, one in Tyabb, and one in Mount Martha. 

We’re about 1600 students across the three campuses, ranging from kinder to year 12. 

When we started to investigate a communication app, we lovingly called the whole project ‘Project Pandora,’ and the reason why is there are so many channels and avenues that parents and families get and receive information from the school. From websites, emails, text messages, newsletters, printed material, and everything, and we really wanted to find something that can bring it all together for them.”

Many schools have multiple communication channels, including the ones that Monica mentioned above. The danger of having too many communication channels is the potential for messages to get lost. One family might only pay attention to their emails, while others may automatically resort to your website for information. An app, however, allows you to send out push notifications to reach all families at once. This gives you the best chance to get your important messages across, which may be time sensitive and crucial for parents to read.

“Our app definitely has reached the goals; it definitely is a central place to communicate for all our families and students, whether they’re on the parent app or the student app. All the information that we now flow out to our families is via the Flinders Connect App. It will just be in an emergency that we actually send a text, or something out. In the first couple of months, we allowed our families to just get used to the app; get into the whole thing. Thereafter, we cut the other channels. We stopped emailing and stopped sending out paper-based messages. We could see then the usability just going up.”

Launching the app

“So in our first couple of months, we just tracked how many families installed it. We wanted to get to at least 80-90% and then eventually all the way to 100%. We literally at the moment have got all our families (or about 98%) installed. As a minimum, we wanted just one family member! 

We had a comprehensive launch plan as well. It’s a partnership within the college from administration, IT, and the teaching staff; everybody has to get on board. It doesn’t help if you launch an app and one part is just sending out emails the whole time, because that’s counterproductive. We closed off the channels like emails, newsletters, and print, and we focused mainly on Flinder Connect.

If you’re thinking about adopting an app for your school, it’s important to keep in mind that it may take a bit of time to get your community adjusted to the new technology. You should try your best to let all of your families know about the new school app, and let them discover the benefits and realize the potential of the technology.

I’ll say allow yourself a good six months, monitor it, and track all the users; don’t just think they’re using it, make sure that they’re using it.”

Using the app

“The app is really simple and easy to manage, with the app CMS system set up per admin and user levels, so everybody’s got their functions and their everything that they can do; beautiful and easy to track information that’s gone out, easy to edit. When you’re sending out a thousand plus emails and you have to send them and you go ‘whoops, something went wrong’; you never have that with Flinders Connect because you can just go in, update, and edit the information. 

The app development process was really a partnership between Flinders and Digistorm. Not just for myself as Marketing and Enrollments, but obviously our IT team as well. We had a pretty good idea of what we were after, and again just working alongside as a team with Digistorm, looking at the features and benefits that they’ve got already built into the app, and then adapting it to Flinders Connect.”

On the onboarding process

It can be a stressful event to bring a new piece of technology into your school, especially one which will serve as a fundamental part of your communication program and change the way families interact with your school. To make the transition as easy as possible, Digistorm has a dedicated onboarding process. Our team helps schools on board with all the training they need, and a step-by-step app-build workshop, so that school teams feel confident and set up for success. All Digistorm clients also have access to ongoing support training to make sure they get the most of out their tools. 

Onboarding and training have always been great coming from Digistorm. They give you options. They’ll do one on one sessions, whether it’s face-to-face or online via Zoom, but then also leave you with marketing material, videos, and tutorials that you can do at your own pace afterwards. 

If you’re considering an app, I would really recommend it. I think in this day and age people expect an app, they expect not just to go to a website and do everything like that, they want an app that’s personalized for them and their family.

Wrapping up

Flinders Christian Community College recognised that they needed a more streamlined communication method to give parents an easier way of accessing important information. By introducing a school app, Flinders was able to improve their overall communication and give families a more positive experience with their school.

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Published February 23 2023