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How Digital Tools Can Transform Internal Administration in a School Environment

by Jen

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

What PDF tools have schools adopted during the pandemic to manage internal administration and communications?

Much of the internal admin taking place in schools only a few months ago was done using pen and paper. We look at three scenarios where schools took matters into their own hands and leveraged PDF tools to keep internal admin and communications afloat.

Enrolling 350 Students in a Pandemic

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Facing a new school year, one of the secondary school principals we spoke to told us about the concerns school administrators had about being able to register over 350 students for the new school year—entirely remotely. Fortunately, the school found the right e-signing PDF tool that would seamlessly carry the entire registration process and become a central PDF tool in the school's admin center going forward. But how did they do it?

Document Preparation

Just as school administrators would have prepared paper documents for enrollment in the past, they needed to prepare digital registration forms to upload and request e-signatures. Since they used Smallpdf's eSign tool for this exercise, they could either upload a Word document and convert it to a PDF, or simply upload a scan of the existing paper document if a digital file wasn't available, and create editable fields for parents to fill in text before e-signing.

Having ensured the fields requesting information, like name, surname, physical address, and emergency contact numbers, were editable, administrators then transferred or uploaded the document to the eSign tool, ready to request information and the required signatures.

Request Signatures & Show Parents Where To Sign

Once the document was uploaded, the teacher or school administrator input the parents’ or guardians’ email address into the "Signer" pane on the right side of the page. From here, they used the "Drag & Drop" feature to place a note on the document, showing each parent where to sign.

Note: School enrollment forms should carry a level of privacy, which, in this case, meant that the document was not to be sent out via a bulk action for all parents to sign. Schools and teachers should consider the privacy requirements of all documents before openly sharing them with more than one recipient.

Even though an individual sign request needed to be sent out to each family or parent, the eSign tool made this process both seamless and completely trackable.

Share the Document for Signing

With the document prepared and signees added and shown where to sign, the document was ready to be shared. All the administrators had to do next was press a single button to release the document for signing. Recipients then received a link, plus instructions, to complete and sign the document, which they did by filling in the form, and finally, creating and placing their signatures. Once all signing was complete, the person issuing the sign request, plus all signees involved, received a link to a copy of the completed document—straight to their email inboxes.

Save Completed Document

As administrators received notifications that the documents issued for signing had been signed by all parties, they followed the link to the completed document sent to their email, where they could open it and download it to their device.

This particular school used Dropbox for all their document storage, which posed no problems when working with the eSign tool, since Smallpdf comes with a Dropbox integration. The software also comes with a Google Drive integration for schools who use this platform for document storage.

PDF Management for Internal Admin & Board Meetings

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One school we spoke to found that they had to adapt quickly to an alternative way of managing and sharing internal documents as remote learning took hold. This particular school only used Smallpdf's tools occasionally to convert JPGs to PDFs or merge several PDFs into one. But when teachers and administrative staff began working remotely, the school's familiarity with these PDF tools became a boon for internal document management.

Preparing Documents for Board Meetings

When we think of a school environment and documents, the most common type of document to spring to mind is usually to do with teaching or learning, or passed between teacher and student. What many people forget, though, is that behind every successful classroom is a vast and intricate administrative network that keeps schools operational, up to date with federal and state requirements and guidelines, and running according to an annual budget.

With so much going on behind the scenes, it's no wonder that the administrative staff at this school were delighted when they found out that the PDF tools they already had could do so much more than just organize and edit PDF documents.

Having to facilitate and attend no fewer than three school-related board meetings every second month, the principal at this school was relieved when she found out that she could create detailed and highly integrated information packs from existing material using just a handful of simple PDF tools. For her, this made creating and sharing content with board members a cinch, and kept any extraneous admin related to these board meetings to a minimum.

E-Signing for Students & Coordinators

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One school we connected with about document management in the remote environment was happy to report that while e-signing was their greatest challenge in moving to an entirely digital environment, they could make this move with a single PDF tool.

Before the pandemic, the school managed its documents in paper format, requesting ink signatures, both internal and student-facing, on paper documents. But with the move to a more digital environment, the school's administrative staff quickly had to find a solution to get students to sign PDF forms and to support coordinators in signing documents electronically, a challenge they met head on with the eSign tool from Smallpdf.

Resources for Resourceful Schools

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One thing that struck us at Smallpdf as we connected with several schools across the US was that even though every school faced extreme levels of uncertainty and essentially had to change their entire operational model as they navigated the remote classroom, not one of these schools, teachers, principals, or administrators succumbed to despair or inaction.

In every case, schools and their representatives sprang into action as soon as they realized that shifting to digital as quickly as possible gave them the best chance of survival and lowered their chances of experiencing unnecessary setbacks.

In every environment that works with documents, PDF tools represent the springboard for taking a paper-oriented approach to digital in the shortest amount of time. Schools, which are structurally far more complex than most organizations, with administrative, parent-student, parent-teacher, and organizational responsibilities, have had to respond to the central issue of document management in smarter ways. Leveraging the right PDF tools is what's gotten them there—and will take them even further into the future of remote education.

Is your school or educational organization looking for easy-to-use PDF tools to manage and streamline internal admin and coordination? Register for a Smallpdf for Teams trial today and discover 20+ premium PDF tools to support your school's journey to paperless.

Jennifer Rees
UX Writer