Setting up Parents’ Evenings with video calls
Edulink One now integrates with leading cloud communications company Twilio to provide schools the option of conducting parents evenings remotely via video conference.
If you would like to use this functionality you will have to sign up for an account from Twilio and enable/configure the functionality in the settings.
The functionality does not work with Internet Explorer or out of date versions of other browsers. So please urge participants to upgrade browsers and the Edulink One app before the event.
We also recommend the IT support team add an exception to the school’s firewall/filter for *.twilio.com and check devices at https://networktest.twilio.com/?region=ie1
How much does it cost?
UPDATE September 2021: Twilio charge based on usage of their TURN server.
Usage is currently free for up to 250 teachers running meetings at the same time. We’ve not had a school need more than that yet, so parents’ evenings have been free of charge!
In the rare case you may need more teachers, they charge at a rate of $0.4 per GB.
Here’s what our test school had to say:
After our test event involving 186 appointments of 10 minutes each, I could not have been happier with the results. All appointments went to time and our staff found it simple to use. The only issues we had were due to school equipment and nothing to do with Edulink One interface or Twillio video conferencing. All the feedback from both staff and parents was extremely positive and most have expressed that this is the way to go even after we get back to normal!
I would definitely recommend using this system for parents evenings video calls, it is easy to setup and we have already organised our next parents’ evening.
Setting up Twilio
Setup an account on Twilio, To do this you will be required to provide an email address and phone number (for 2 form factor authentication).
Once on the dashboard screen, copy the account’s SID (you will need this for the Edulink one settings).
Click settings on the left hand side navigation and click on the API Keys link then the Create new API Key button.
Give the key a name of your choice, and leave the key type as standard.
Click the “create API Key” button.
Copy the key’s SID and secret and save somewhere as you will need this information to enter into the Edulink One settings.
Once you have set up the API Keys you also need to set up the video room type. To do this click on the All products & services button on the left navigation.
Click on the Programmable Video link.
Click on the Rooms → Settings sub navigation, change the room type to Go.
Click the acknowledge change checkbox then Save.
Before you use Twilio for a live event, we recommend adding additional credit to your account and even consider configuring auto top-up options for the account.
You go to billing, upgrade now and then enter your payment details. Setting the auto top-up ensures you won’t run out of money mid-event. Top ups are a minimum of £20 and can be set to top up when the balance drops to £10.
This completes the Twilio side of the setup. Now you need to enter the Edulink One settings.
Edulink One Settings
To enable the functionality, go to the Edulink One settings and click on the Parent Event tab and click on the Enable video setting this will then show 3 additional settings.
Enter your Twilio account SID, API key SID and Secret and click save.
These are all the settings entered. You can now create an event as you would usually on Edulink One – see adding an event section.
Adding an Event
Once you have saved the settings, create the event in the same way you would a normal parents’ evening on Edulink One.
On the create event screen you will see an additional tick box below where you add the students called video conference.
Tick this option to enable the video functionality for this event. Fill in the additional fields just as you would for any other parents’ evening event.
What to do on the day
Once you have set up the event and all the bookings have been made, participants will see a start appointments button when clicking on the event.
After clicking on the start appointments button the meeting screen will appear. The remote video box will remain blank until it’s time to connect, but you will be able to see your picture in the local video box.
You can turn your video and sound on and off if needed with the controls.
The event will start automatically then auto navigate between the appointments without the need for user input.
When the countdown gets to 30 seconds the time will turn red and as a warning at 15 seconds the border of the remote video box starts to flash red.
Attendance is automatically recorded and does not need to be done manually by the teacher for this type of event.
Once all of the appointments have taken place a There are no appointments message is displayed and the window can be closed.
Top tips from our test school and support team
- Reboot your PC before logging on to Edulink One
- Make sure there are no Windows Updates downloading or waiting for installation
- Log in and start appointments 10 minutes early, this will identify most of the issues you might get on the device you are using.
- Where possible use the Chrome browser. We have had issues with Internet Explorer (which is no longer supported) unless you are using the mobile app.
- If on a mobile device, if possible, do not connect to the parents’ evening using a mobile data plan, try to use a wi-fi connection and make sure you have good connectivity (other users on the network are not streaming films or games).
- We recommend a “test” parent event with your staff first so that they familiarise themselves with the screen and process of moving between appointments.
- Twilio has a network test feature to make sure you are not going to have any issues on the school/home network. You may find it helpful for staff to test their set up in advance.
Network test link: https://networktest.twilio.com/?region=ie1
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the FAQs we have already been asked:
No, the functionality is for 2 participants for each meeting. If a second parent would like to join in then they will either have to have a separate appointment with the teacher or both parents will physically need to be in the same location on one device.
No, this is not currently a feature.
No, the sessions are fixed length (set when you create the event).
You can achieve this by setting an interval on the event when you create the event (an interval is a set period of time between all slots which can’t be booked).
Please use Twilio’s network test feature https://networktest.twilio.com/?region=ie1
Twilio have a service status page: https://status.twilio.com. You can either monitor this or subscribe to updates.
“How to” videos from one of our users
Thanks to Calday Grange Grammar School for kindly sharing some “how to” parents’ evening videos for teachers and parents, which you may find useful.