Category: Blog

Parent Consent – The Case for School Photo Management

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Parent and children reviewing photos

Communication teams are increasingly demonstrating the day-to-day value of their school through photos, and as the saying goes, “a picture tells a thousand words”.

This development has necessitated large amounts of time being spent trawling through a vast array of folders in Explorer or Finder. Feedback from our client schools has this between one to two days a week which also includes the manual task of correctly identifying the students so that parent privacy considerations can be applied.

Parashift’s research into photo school management and particularly the privacy views of parents has highlighted that parents’ concerns to privacy are in fact layered and speak more to control than actual risk.

When delving deeper into this, we found that parent concerns are greatly diminished with internal publications such as newsletters, bulletins and end-of-year books. Where they have the majority of concern is with public communication such as social media and traditional advertising, such as billboards. When we drilled down, the primary objection pertained to social media with fears of cyberbullying, predators (reinforced in regular news coverage) and special family situations

For school marketing with parents with highly restrictive requirements, we have found they too can often be used. A need for control has the parent imposing a restricted policy to the school; however, a personal request with an explanation of the image’s intended use, including the controls you have in place to protect the child will dramatically increase your chances. An example of a control is removing all metadata for identification reasons.

The simple permission classification of opt-in and out has the school limiting their creative content as well as their communities’ intimacy potential with the school. Surprisingly we found less than 3% of assets created are actually ever used.

In next month’s blog, we’ll cover off a multi-tiered permission approach when managing parental consent that takes into account the modern-day challenge.

SchoolBench Summer Release 2019 is here

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Summer Release

In case you didn’t notice, Summer is here! Anyway, we did, so it’s time for SchoolBench Summer Release to help you organise the new school year’s photos.

For clients, simply visit your Admin Panel tomorrow, and click the Updates button to receive access.

Here’s a summary what will be available, with more information made available in your online documentation.


         For the School Marketeers

Facial Recognition Management

  • Management of the bounding boxes for facial recognition has been made easier. Users can now make bulk changes to an image such as unassigning, removing and verifying people.

Event Suggestions

  • Like any busy school, sometimes events overlap. If SchoolBench is unsure about what event a photo relates to; it will provide you with a suggestion or a list of options should multiple events be on at that time.

Sort Order

  • Users can now edit their search results by sorting in the order of their preference.

SchoolBench Share Drive & Photoshop

  • Accessing your images in a Share Drive and applications like Photoshop has been overhauled, and now better reflects the folder and file layout you are familiar with.

Custom Tags Protection

  • Due to the growing usage of custom tags, SchoolBench now protects these amendable fields automatically when applying new custom tags.


     For the System Administrators…


Single Sign-on (SSO)

  • You can now implement SSO via Kerberos and Open ID Connect. This supports transparent login on premise and also using cloud providers like Azure AD and Google.

Nested LDAP Groups

  • LDAP now supports nested groups, so you can reflect your permissions and roles much easier.

Trigger LDAP Sync

  • Rather than waiting a day, you can now trigger LDAP Group/User Synchronisation from the Admin Panel whenever you make major changes.


Footnote: As SchoolBench is often an on premise solution; if you experience any issues upgrading due to your local environment, our support team is here ready to help. Merely log a ticket at


2018 – The Year That Was

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Once again I am reminded as I write this year’s summary, it has come round all too quickly. While I am not complaining, as most of us are about to enjoy some well-earned rest, time does appear to be speeding up – perhaps it’s a symptom of getting older?

2018 was a challenging and fruitful year, with several significant events that took place.

Alfresco Community
Parashift’s board approved an important change in our strategic direction to extend support to Alfresco Community and launch a new proactive managed service. Supporting Community is prohibited under the Alfresco partnership agreement, which necessitated a termination of the partnership.

Our focus and commitment to Alfresco shows no sign of abating, as we extended our service offering for all things Alfresco. Pleasingly, all our Alfresco clients elected to continue with Parashift, with the majority upgrading to the new managed service. This outcome is a testament to our delivery team and a validation of the confidence our clients have in Parashift.

In February, we released SchoolBench GA (General Availability), our digital asset management system designed with, and specifically for, the education market. As a trailblazing solution, the take-up was initially slow; however, since visiting hundreds of schools across four states and attending several conferences, the market has embraced SchoolBench with much vigour.

Since February, two further releases have taken place, adding significant functionality, most of which was requested by our ever-growing list of client schools.

SchoolBench finishes the year with clients in all Australian states and New Zealand. We have broad representation including: Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Jewish as well as non-denominational, at both primary and secondary levels.

An eye to 2019
In January, Parashift will be launching SchoolBench’s Summer Release with some fantastic new features requested by our clients.

In Term 1 (Feb – April), Parashift will be launching a Parent Portal providing schools with a secure and innovative way to share student photos and movies with their parents.

Term 2 (May – June), SchoolBench will be enhanced with an Archive module designed by school archivists of our client schools. The purpose is simple: to provide an intuitive system for the long-term preservation of both their digital and non-digital collections

On the Alfresco front, Version 6 GA will soon be available. Parashift’s support team will soon be helping our clients as a matter of priority to upgrade to Alfresco’s ‘latest and greatest’ while ensuring a smooth transition is achieved.

In conclusion as the year closes, I reflect on all the ups and downs of the year, and hold much hope and enthusiasm for the year that lies ahead.

To the leadership team of Peter Lesty and Henri Guillaume, I acknowledge their outstanding contribution to Parashift in the year. Their passion for client service and the innovative approach to solving problems is inspiring.

I wish staff, clients and partners a safe and enjoyable Christmas and prosperous healthy 2019.

Rabbit Season! Duck Season! No, it’s SchoolBench Spring Release Season… Fire!

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SchoolBench Spring Release

Parashift is pleased to confirm SchoolBench Version 7 (aka Spring Release) will be made available next week. To upgrade, simply visit the Admin Panel and click the Check for Updates button after the 15th of November.

As SchoolBench is a collaborative project with school marketers, the Spring release includes a number of new features and enhancements to existing functionality, as requested by our client schools, as well as a few bug fixes.

New Features

  • Newly created signature images will now initiate an automatic scan of your existing image repository to identify even more people.
  • A popular request has now been actioned. New signature image logic extends auto tagging and facial recognition to teaching staff and school guests.
  • To help improve accuracy with SchoolBench’s machine learning, verifying a student’s image will become easier with a pop up of their signature image, so you can run a visual comparison and make the right decision even easier.
  • Another popular request has been keyboard shortcuts – we’ve listened!
  • SchoolBench’s Admin Panel can now run tests on your Synergetic database to check for errors and report them back to you.
  • A new Published To field makes it easier to track where images have been used, either in the Yearbook, on Facebook, or in newsletters. Of course, you can also filter on that field, making publication analysis now a breeze.
  • The Admin Panel allows you to configure SSL for your SchoolBench site to improve security through encryption. 

Feature Enhancements

  • Parent Permission, Tags and Published To fields now includes auto-suggestion to minimise the proliferation of names for the same classification.
  • The Date and Size values in the table view have been formatted to make them more easily understood.




SchoolBench at the Educate Plus Conference in Auckland

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Parashift’s Henri Guillaume and I attended the Educate Plus conference in Auckland this month, and what a fabulous conference it was!

Coincidentally, being our first Education Plus, it was also my first trip to the land of the long white cloud, but alas, we were too busy to play tourist. We were there for four days and based at Sky City in the heart of the city.

Each day, the conference delegates kick-started their morning with a keynote speech. Day one, Corrinne Armour discussed Fearless Leadership, and day two, Sally Thibault spoke on Women in Leadership – The Reality, The Challenges, The Possibilities. Two very impressive and passionate speakers.

Parashift held a stand, and over the conference, pleasingly we were well visited by people from all other Australia and New Zealand, with great discussions on SchoolBench and the challenges faced in school marketing.

A highlight of the conference was the Gala Evening held at Eden Park. The event had the theme of wearing your team’s colours; however, some preferred to use the opportunity to frock up. An entertaining night that allowed people to let their hair down and enjoy each other’s company in a more relaxed forum.

Educate Plus Gala Evening
Judy-Ann Quillian from Loreto, Neil McWhannel of Educate Plus,
Kieren Fitzpatrick & Henri Guilluame of Parashift

3 Tips to Tracking School Published Photos

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Tracking School Published Photos

One of the challenges that schools face today is tracking their published photos. Considering how many times you post every week, and how many channels that you publish to, if faced by a parent to immediately remove all images of their child, how would you go about it?

The reason for their change of heart can vary. They may be disgruntled with the school, there could be a change of family situation, be media-shy, and perhaps the school itself requires the change due to a recent event that could cause embarrassment.

Will you have to drop whatever you are doing and begin a long game of hide and seek? Keeping in mind that Murphy’s Law might have you doing this, at a time not of your choosing, and when other deadlines are also pressing.

Proper governance requires that records are kept in a way that image/photo management continues after publishing. There are many ways to do this, from using a simple spreadsheet all the way to using an image management system to track – the key is to start!

Here are three suggestions to help you effectively track your published images:

1. WHAT did you publish?

We search by context, so it makes sense to store by context. Is the image a school building, a particular student, a school event and when was it taken? Cataloguing what is in the picture will help you find it again down the track.


  • Year: 2018
  • Term: 3
  • Term Week: 2
  • Student: Name
  • Teacher: Name
  • Event: Scuba Diving
2. WHERE did you publish       ?

When meeting school marketing teams, I often recall my time at school during the 80’s, where there was much less communication between the school and the community than now. We would receive the occasional newsletter and the end-of-year book, and not much else.

Nowadays, in addition to printed material, schools publish to parent portals, websites and social media channels of all kinds. Furthermore, the frequency has increased dramatically, to multiple times a week and even several times a day. Keeping track of where school images are published is key to having them either updated or removed.

3. WHEN was it published?

Newly published items can quickly hide historical content stored on websites, and more particularly on social media. However, it doesn’t mean the image has disappeared; you just have to go back further to locate it sometimes. Leaving it there means it can suddenly resurface: Facebook, for example, stores images in chronological order of publishing, but can be brought forward on newsfeeds, as reminders and on actions such as likes and comments.

Knowing when the image was published will assist you in also determining the parent’s consent rights at the time of release. And this could come in very handy, should the matter have the potential of becoming litigious.

If you would like to read more with regards to image management, here is a case study from our website on how a SchoolBench client, Seymour College, manages their images: Seymour College Case Study


5 Rules – Communication Strategy for Student Facial Recognition

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5 Rules – Communication Strategy for Student Facial Recognition Technology

A common question we receive about student facial recognition technology with schools, is “what do we tell our school community, particularly the parents, and how?”

Facial recognition technology is not new: we are all familiar with it – Apple and Samsung use facial recognition to unlock some of their phones. It’s when you consider just how many images a school can produce each week, and then multiply this by the number of student faces involved, facial recognition really comes to the fore!

Interestingly, Australia’s Privacy Act includes biometric data, but at the time of this article, facial recognition is not considered biometric data. This could however quickly change, and therefore, it would be prudent to treat the information with this in mind. 1988 Privacy Act

Following is a list of five rules to help schools build a communication strategy with their community while launching student facial recognition technology.

5 Rules for a Communication Strategy

Rule 1. Be open and honest

Parents can be sensitive to a school using facial recognition to identify students in images, or anyone else, for that matter. A particular demographic in your school with a heightened sensitivity will be new parents with their first child.

Being open and honest with parents drastically reduces the stress and fear that parents could feel if they found out about it through other means. Parents, by the very nature of placing their child at your school, display a faith that your institution will take care of their child, their pride and joy. To maintain this trust, simply tell them upfront.

Rule 2. Tell them why

Simon Sinek, the author and motivational speaker, is famous for saying ‘Start with why’ – it’s all about the children!

In today’s world of hypersensitivity to threats, both real and potential, there is a paradox with our ever-growing need to communicate to the world at large. Student facial recognition technology enables a school to identify students with a high degree of accuracy. And by knowing who the students are in the images, the technology helps the school meet the parent’s wishes more accurately as to what can and cannot be published.

Rule 3. Communicate the security protocols you have in place

As we are talking about student information, it comes as no surprise that parents will be concerned. So be proactive in telling them the safeguards you have in place. You already hold information about their child, so the school already has extensive experience in keeping it safe.

Highlight your protocols, such as:

– all images are stored on school premises,

– unpublished photos are not accessible through the Internet, even for staff,

– access on a needs only basis, and naturally,

– all actions are trackable.

Rule 4. Gain consent

Each year, schools obtain parents’ approval to use of images of their child. It may be a simple opt in and out, although schools are steadily moving towards a more extensive classification system by breaking permissions down to web, promotional and publication permissions. The 1988 Privacy Act requires any organisation over $3 million in annual turnover to obtain consent when keeping personal information. So other than being polite and attuned to your community’s needs, it’s the law.

Rule 5. Provide the ability to opt out

Family situations like broken families and unwanted media attention are just two examples of why a parent may change their consent. By letting them know how things are managed when they change, you how that you are prepared and that you have the child’s interest at heart. Again, if that’s not enough to inspire you, know it’s also the law.

If you think there could be additional rules to follow, or if you have experiences you would like to share, to help schools navigate this sensitive minefield, we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

And one thing before you go, if your school uses Synergetic, you may be interested in reading our last blog on how Synergetic and SchoolBench work together to help schools. 3 Reasons SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic Student Management System

3 reasons SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic Student Management System

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3 reasons SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic Student Management System. Image: Passport Control by Eric Fischer via Flickr.

There are three key reasons SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic Student Management System, and they all revolve around the role Synergetic plays in many schools as the “source of truth” and SchoolBench’s mission of making sure schools can use images of students appropriately.

Let’s unpack the reasons so you can understand the comprehensive way these two systems are integrated to create an environment of trust for digital asset management within your school.

Synergetic as the “source of truth”

Synergetic Management Systems has developed software for the education sector since 1978 and is now the country’s largest, wholly Australian-owned, K-12 school administration, teaching and learning software company.

This Student Management System has widespread adoption in Australian schools, which is why SchoolBench has been engineered to integrate with it.

Most schools use Synergetic as the system for storing core information about students, including enrolment details, student photo, and parental permissions for using a student’s images in different situations.

By using Synergetic as its “source of truth” for student information, administrators in schools using SchoolBench get all the benefits of its dynamic indexing and search functions but do NOT need to maintain student details in multiple systems.

The daily synchronisation process ensures SchoolBench always has the latest student records in its index, giving users confidence that identification and permission data is up to date.

Facial recognition connects student names to signature images

A second reason SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic, is because the Student Management System provides trusted access to a student photo and a student’s name in one place, enabling SchoolBench to weave its magic through facial recognition.

At the heart of SchoolBench is its ability to apply facial recognition to school photos and videos, enabling fast, accurate indexing and retrieval.

But facial recognition only provides reliable results when it has a trusted signature file (or files) for each subject, which is what Synergetic makes possible.

When SchoolBench is first enabled, it scans every student photo to create a signature file that will identify that student in a variety of poses and lighting conditions and it anchors that signature file to the name and other student data from the Synergetic database.

From that point forward, SchoolBench’s facial recognition can confidently identify students by name, as new images and videos are uploaded into the digital management system.

SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic for publication permission control

The third reason SchoolBench integrates with Synergetic Student Management System is to access parental publication permissions.

When SchoolBench creates the signature file for each student, it also captures the current set of parental permissions for using student photos for publication.

A recent update of SchoolBench has enabled granular control of parental permissions, which governs how users might access digital files for use in newsletters, websites, and other school communications.

Due to the robust integration between these two systems, when a school updates parent permissions, which can happen at any time, SchoolBench updates the permissions logged in that student’s signature file.

Through this process, schools have only one place to manage data about students while benefiting from SchoolBench’s dynamic abilities for capturing, indexing, and finding student photos and videos.

If your school is already using the Synergetic Student Management System, we’re ready to provide you with a demonstration of how SchoolBench might revolutionise your digital asset management.


Image: Passport Control by Eric Fischer via Flickr. CC BY 2.0



SchoolBench Update: 2018 Autumn Release – ‘Einstein’

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You don't have to be Einstein to appreciate these smart updates to SchoolBench. Image: Genius - theoretical physicist - E = mc2 by Robert Sullivan via Flickr

We are only weeks away from our Autumn release, and one look at upcoming changes to our digital asset management system for schools means you don’t need to be Einstein to appreciate these smart updates to SchoolBench.

In our Autumn release of SchoolBench, code named ‘Einstein’, schools will soon be able to enjoy:

  • Granular control of parental permissions
  • Three inbuilt image editing tools
  • Desktop access via WebDAV
  • Smarter display and management of searches
  • A number of power tweaks and fixes

This suite of updates comes from user feedback through our community roadmap where our developers seek input from schools to ensure SchoolBench is fit for purpose.

Granular control of parental permissions

The launch version of SchoolBench supported a parental permission flag for each media item.

The options were:

  • Permission granted
  • Permission denied
  • Permission unknown

As schools have clocked up more hours using SchoolBench, we have received requests to allow for better control in usage permissions.

With these latest smart updates to SchoolBench, the system now offers complete flexibility, so schools can determine what permissions they need to index for each media item, such as parental permissions for:

  • Social media publication
  • Internal publication
  • External publication
  • Print publication
  • Online/web publication

School communities will be able to add the specific parental usage permissions they need, and SchoolBench will keep that information synchronised across all indexed media.

Three inbuilt image editing tools

SchoolBench is not Adobe Photoshop.

However, there are times when some basic image editing options add convenience and save time.

SchoolBench inbuilt image editing

SchoolBench developers have three new options included in the Autumn update, to enable quick, functional changes to images. They are:

  1. Cropping. SchoolBench now gives users the option of cropping out a child whose parents have not given publication permission, or cropping out children who were blinking or not in a suitable pose for the image. Furthermore, cropping extraneous features from an image might help create an “almost perfect” image, suitable for publication.
  2. Rotation. Sometimes, landscape images get imported as portrait, and vice versa. SchoolBench will now make it easy to correct this with a click.
  3. Watermarking. Your school can now apply, resize, and position your logo or other watermark image to appropriate locations on your media items, to ensure correct branding and ownership are managed from storage to usage.

Access SchoolBench via from your desktop with WebDAV

SchoolBench is a web app and can be used via a browser in a secure session. Some users prefer to use native editors like Photoshop CC and Lightroom to manipulate and manage their photos and other digital assets.

With these smart updates to SchoolBench, WebDAV means you can work in Photoshop, for example, and save your images directly into SchoolBench without having to swap in and out of different programs and apps. Not only will this save time, it lets you work in the environment that best suits your needs.

Through WebDAV, you will be able to open, edit, and manage school assets via Finder (for Macs) and Windows Explorer (for PCs), as you can see in the image below.

WebDAV and SchoolBench working together

Furthermore, this increased flexibility in how you manage your assets still comes with peace of mind because all images are still stored safely in SchoolBench.

Smarter display and management of searches

The SchoolBench reputation has been built on the powerful search technology it uses.

By allowing schools to index all media items with time, date, student name, class, event, etc, it puts a lot of power into the hands of school communication staff who need pictures urgently.

However, sometimes there’s a need to add tags to images in an ad hoc way. That is now possible.

When searching for images or videos, SchoolBench now offers search suggestions that are case insensitive, to help you hone in on the best search terms possible. Likewise, new date facets will help you narrow down searches by date.

Viewing images in SchoolBench

Our engineers have also reworked the search results pages, so you can view mixed results of thumbnails and tables, along with the ability to have all results on one page (infinite scrolling) to save you clicking to page two, page three, etc. After reviewing this improved format, we’ve now decided to remove the folder view in favour of our improved search results interface.

A number of power tweaks and fixes round off these smart updates to SchoolBench

You’ll find SchoolBench has even more power for increasing the efficiency of your workflow by enabling you to save and share your configurations.

This means that when you’ve compiled a panel layout and array of facets that make you the envy of other staff, you can share your wisdom and experience to help your school flourish.

We are also supporting better management by improving the way SchoolBench handles duplicate images and we’ve included support for Read Only fields so that student and parent permissions are safely attached to all regular images.

So, here is a summary of the first raft of smart updates to SchoolBench arising directly from feedback through our user community.

Coming Soon in July: Mini Release – Admin Panel


If your school hasn’t started using it yet, we’d love to chat with you and arrange a demonstration. Simply contact SchoolBench and we’ll make it happen.


Image: Genius – theoretical physicist – E = mc2 by Robert Sullivan via Flickr.



Get that old scholar photo, now! Rethinking media file storage in schools to support marketing and communication teams

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Photos photos everywhere and not the one we want: Rethinking media file storage in schools to support marketing and communication teams, by SchoolBench. Image: Music CDs by Indi Samarajiva via Flickr.

Like it or not, the speed of school communication to their community has dramatically increased. From 1980’s physical annual school books, to regular term-based website updates and now to weekly, if not daily social media communications. And this trend shows no sign of abating.

This development is why rethinking media file storage in schools is crucial for ensuring marketers and communicators are well placed to seize upon communication opportunities as they arise.

There are many factors working against school communicators, not least of which are “old school” filing systems, the ad hoc approach to indexing, and the exponentially-increasing volume of photo and video output from teachers, staff, and alumni.

This is why a number of Australian schools are embracing a new web application developed for the school sector, called SchoolBench.

As you’ll see, this purpose-built technology integrates with existing IT infrastructure in schools to remove bottlenecks in file capture and indexing and, most importantly, file search and recovery for publication.

Locating media files in schools for publication

Did you know that only a very small percentage, approximately 3 per cent, of photos and videos in school collections are ever used?

In our work with school communicators, we have found two main reasons for this underutilisation of media assets.

Quality vs quantity

The first one is simply the result of quantity over quality.

During the last three years, technology has made it easier for teachers, staff, and other members of the school community to produce huge volumes of photos and video.

As mentioned in a previous article about media management in schools, the low bar to media production means there are a lot more files for school communicators to wade through.

Outdated indexing systems

However, the second issue is even more of a fundamental problem than the first, outdated indexing systems.

The SchoolBench team has heard, first hand, about the plight of communicators in one private school last year, where they were severely impeded in their jobs due to outdated file management.

In that situation, two old scholars had been drafted by the AFL but it took the school three days to find suitable images of them for a community release because they had to search through piles of physical media, in this case, CD ROMs.

Contrast that to a school with SchoolBench.

Within minutes of learning about an old scholar being drafted by the AFL, a school’s marketing or communication officer could have a shortlist of suitable photos of the former student, confident they are correctly indexed AND have the correct usage rights.

Rethinking media file storage in schools

It might surprise you to learn that most schools and offices use file systems created more than 50 years ago.

The old, file hierarchy approach, was outlined at a computer conference in 1965 – you can read the original paper here, A General-Purpose File System For Secondary Storage – and the way it results in layers and layers of files within folders is the bain of school marketers working to deadlines.

Even earlier, in 1958, this approach was illustrated as a “breakthrough”, developed for the Electronic Recording Machine Accounting (ERMA) Mark 1, by G.A. Barnard III and L. Fein.

Rethinking media file structure in schools - An early hierarchical file system was developed for the Electronic Recording Machine Accounting (ERMA) Mark 1, as presented in this 1958 Eastern Joint Computer Conference paper Organization Generated in and Retrieval of Records a Large-Scale Engineering Project by G.A. Barnard III and L. Fein - SchoolBench

As you can imagine, in filing systems like these, it only takes a few changes in folder naming protocols to make it nigh impossible for school communications professionals to find images quickly.

This is why the team behind SchoolBench took to rethinking media file storage in schools.

To start with, smart phones, SLRs, and other devices capture images with various filename protocols, and they do so in great volume, so SchoolBench deploys a range of technology to manage that influx, namely:

  • facial recognition to identify students in images as they are uploaded into the system
  • contextual indexing of images regarding class groups, activities, etc, by using digital file metadate (with time and date) cross-referenced with a school’s internal calendar
  • the cross-referencing of identified images with usage permission files per studient

By using various “tags” for each file, such as student name, activity, event, etc, SchoolBench hands over the power to school communication teams to quickly and easily find suitable photos with correct permissions to meet even the harshest of deadlines.

SchoolBench unlocks storytelling potential for schools

In summary, the use of SchoolBench does away with the use of outdated, slow, and cumbersome 1960s-style file indexing.

The speed and ease of access that school marketing departments can use, has also been shown to spawn new ideas for communication, outlined in our case study of SchoolBench in operation at Seymour College in Adelaide.

The SchoolBench team welcomes enquiries from schools and will arrange demonstrations to help you fully appreciate the power of the system that works WITH your existing IT infrastructure.


Image: Music CDs by Indi Samarajiva via Flickr. CC By 2.0