About Education in Motion
Since the first school in Shanghai in 2003, the Dulwich international family of schools now, known as Education in Motion, has grown in China and elsewhere in Asia with students achieving academic results that place them alongside the world’s best. Underpinned by the motto—Detur Pons Mundo (Building bridges to the world)—their vision is to create the best schools in the world so their students make a positive difference.
We spoke to Alison Crozier, Head of Boarding and Life Skills Teacher at Dulwich International High School (DHSZ) in Suzhou, China to understand how partnering with Orah has helped streamline processes and enhance the school experience for staff, students and parents.
Challenges Dulwich faced with student engagement
DHSZ had several systems in place; Excel, Sharepoint, School Information Management System (SIMS), to name a few. Student behavioral notes were recorded within SIMS but it didn't provide the means to incorporate weekend leave requests. To accommodate termly boarders, the school had to turn to Sharepoint. Each of the tools had its drawbacks. The biggest one of them all was that the systems didn't talk to each other. Dealing with disparate systems meant that the staff found it really difficult to keep track of everything in one place.
How Dulwich used Orah to provide a better experience for their students and parents
The need of the hour was to get a tool that centralised their data and enabled the staff to carry out their day-to-day responsibilities quickly and easily. This is where Orah came into the picture. Orah was an easy tool to adopt across the school; it was user-friendly and intuitive. Even the staff who were second-language speakers of English could use it without hassle.
Your support team has been amazing. They guided us through the whole process. There was a lot of support in the backend from Orah to get us up and running in what was the start of the year for us. And the support has been ongoing as well. It's quite nice being in a similar time zone. It meant that if we do have a question, it usually gets answered first thing the next day.
Alison shed light on what were some operational issues that they had alleviated with the help of Orah.
Seamless tracking of leave
Before Orah, when a student had to take leave from the school, parents had to email their permission. A physical form was signed and students handed it in to the guards before leaving campus. The school, however, had a few instances where students had access to their parents' email accounts and had granted the required permission without parents' consent. An additional step had to be taken to confirm if parents had actually agreed to their children leaving the campus. This required a lot of back and forth, and naturally took a lot of time.
Now, termly boarders use the leave feature within Orah to request leave and it is automatically sent to parents for endorsement.
It's useful to have Orah provide us with the knowledge if a student is attempting to approve their own request. We've been able to follow that upon a number of successful occasions.
Getting students to be part of the process
Students use the self-check-in/check-out feature when registering for study hall using the NFC reading device. The school also had placed a QR code linking to the Orah website to provide the option for students to manually log themselves in.
When students come into the boarding house at night, they are again using Orah to register themselves. It makes it easy for the staff; they can quickly check who's actually in the building and take their temperature. The feature comes in handy during emergencies as well.
Students have adapted really well. This is our second year of using Orah, having implemented it halfway through the school year, last year. We're finding that this school year is a lot smoother. Students are getting into the habit of taking out their phones to scan the reader when they go somewhere in the school. So that's really positive.
Collaborating with parents better
DHSZ has a large Chinese community. To get them on board, the school had to translate everything and that was not easy to accomplish. Recently, Orah launched the in-app translation of the parent app in Chinese(Simplified), and English/Chinese (Simplified). Now, parents can sign up by themselves and get around the application without depending on anybody. Schools can keep parents informed and effectively collaborate with parents, where needed.