Release Note: Messenger 5.2 February 2013

The March 2013 release comes hot on the heels of our recent bett award for Messenger in the 'ICT Leadership & Management Solutions' category and continues our work to provide an outstanding product for home-school communication; it provides a number of great new features that have been selected and included based on feedback from our customers.  Groupcall would like to thank all of you that take the time and effort to feedback to us.

Please see below for a brief description of the major features added into the release.  We very much hope you like what you see… why not let us know what you think!

Please note that some features will only work once your MIS server link has had the latest scripts and necessary updates applied.
Our Support and Marketing teams will be in touch to let you know more about this.


Attendance Write-back

We are pleased to announce that by leveraging the power of Xporter (the tool used for extracting the data seamlessly from your MIS and integrating it with Messenger v5), we can now offer the ability to record attendance updates, provided from parental responses, directly from Messenger v5 back to SIMS and CMIS (with Pearson E1 coming soon) saving the potentially laborious job of manually entering updates to the MIS.


Incoming Messages

The new 'Incoming' tab allows you to easily view incoming unread SMS messages in one place with the ability to view the whole conversation in a new screen for complete history.



Voice Messaging Interface Re-designed

We have streamlined the interface used to send a voice message. It is much cleaner and easier to use.


We have also added the ability for you to call in to a service to record the message rather than the system automatically calling you. This makes it much easier to get someone else to record the messages (e.g. a member of admin staff can set-up the distribution list etc. and then ask the head to call the service number provided to record the message so parents hear a familiar voice).

New 'Conversation View' in Inbox

When viewing the new Message Inbox and clicking on an incoming message, you can see the whole conversation with that contact, making it easier to keep track of the context of a response and then make use of the new attendance write-back functionality to update or track attendance recording.


Message costing

Provides the ability to view the estimated value of a message prior to sending and the actual cost after sending. This feature was added due to a number of requests from schools to provide such a feature in an effort to help control costs and encourage users to think carefully about the size of the distribution list they have compiled. Please note: SMS costs may vary according to your tariff.


Detention alerting

The scripts on your MIS server are now able to return the contents of the detention field (currently limited to SIMS at present) so attendance officers can send text messages alerting parents their child has detention. The system searches for instances of detention occurring in the next 7 days (by default but configurable on a school-by-school basis).

Dial in support

We have added the unique ability to send emergency messages when no Internet access is available through a dial/text in telephone based system. By dialling or texting the emergency number and providing your pin, you are able to to record a voice message or send an SMS message to pre-configured groups.

This new feature is ground breaking and unique in the field of home-school communication and really enables a school to be robust against emergencies. This feature can be used from home in the event of a snow closure, but comes in to its own during daytime school emergencies such as a fire evacuation when staff may only have mobile phones to rely on and no Internet access from the school building; this new feature allows a message to be recorded/sent from the playground using up-to-date school MIS data to advise parents of the situation and to keep senior staff appraised of the situation.



Linked Contacts

We have added the ability within a contact's history to see any students or other relationships and access their details and relevant message history.


Various bug fixes and enhancements...

In addition to the back-end improvements, we have improved some existing features. The most noteworthy are detailed below.

Quicker upload processing

Quicker upload processing of contact imports and attachments.

Improved Name Searching

The interface is easier to use and searches more fields than previously.

Once per Student/Parent options

This was enabled in a previous release but has been improved to allow better control over who messages are sent to.