1. What is TextaParent.ie?

TextaParent.ie enables schools to communicate with parents quickly and easily by sending instant text messages to the school community – parents, members of staff etc.  It is a simple web-based system that is fast, reliable and cost effective.  TextaParent.ie is designed by Principals for Principals and operated by IPPN.


 2. Do I need a school phone to send a text message to parents?

Primary schools do not require a school phone or a school ‘SIM’ card as text messages are sent via the web.  A ‘School Short Name’ is required during the registration process.  The ‘School Short Name’ will be displayed on the recipients’ handset on receipt of the text message.


Q 3. Can parents respond to the text message?

No, Parents/Guardians will be unable to respond to the text message received.


Q 5. How do I ‘activate’ our TextaParent.ie school account?

Once you have registered a TextaParent.ie account, there are three steps to be followed for it to become fully functional:

1. Collect the most up-to-date parent/guardian contact information. Click here to download a sample letter which can be tailored by each individual school
2. Collate parent/guardian names and mobile numbers in Microsoft Word, Excel or in Notepad
3. Purchase TextaParent.ie text units to send your text messages


Q 4. How do I register a TextaParent.ie account for my school?

There are two simple steps to be followed to set up a TextaParent.ie account:
1.Click on the ‘I’m new - Get Started’  button on the homepage
2.Input the required information in the text boxes provided.  The password that you input will be the school’s password to log in to TextaParent.ie
3.Congratulations, you have now set up a TextaParent.ie account for your school.


Q 6. What do I do when I first log in?

Logging In To The New TextaParent.ie
You can login to TextaParent.ie using your Roll Number and Password. These are the access details used by anyone from your school wishing to use TextaParent.ie.

A new feature of TextaParent.ie is the ability to differentiate which people on your staff are using the system. Think of these 'users' as sub-accounts operating under the umbrella of your school account. So, for example, you can create sub-accounts for your secretary, your 4th class teacher, your BOM chairperson etc. Each of these can login to TextaParent.ie using the usual Roll Number and Password - but because they identify themselves as they enter the system, you can later review your use of TextaParent.ie. This is why, in order for these useful functions to work, upon logging in you will be asked "Who Are You?".

The Principal Is Special
The Principal has special powers which s/he can use to amend school details, delete staff from the school account etc. As you are logging in for the very first time, you should create a new user - for yourself, the Principal.

So your first step will be to create a 'new user' and say that this new user will be yourself, the 'Principal'. You will have to make up a 'Principal's Password' for yourself, as only the 'Principal' should be allowed to amend school details, delete accounts, etc. This step of creating a new user is the only extra step you will need to get up and running with the new TextaParent.ie

Additionally, we have prepared an invaluable 'To-Do' list which Principals should undertake before using the new TextaParent.ie It tells for example:

How to set your 'Shortname' - ie the School Signature appended to all outgoing texts
How to set up staff to send via your school account
Tips for saving your password(s)

Click the following link to save and print out / view this checklist: TextaParent.ie Migration Checklist

Click here to access the TextaParent.ie tutorials


Q 7. Can I save the video tutorials to my desktop?

Yes, there are three simple steps to download the TextaParent.ie tutorials and save to your desktop:
1. Download the tutorial file by clicking the right-hand button on your mouse
2. Save the file to your desktop.  As a tutorial is provided for each section of the site, this may take you some time
3. Once the files have been downloaded successfully and saved, they can be burned to a DVD disc to play in your DVD player


Q 8. I have forgotten my password, how do I retrieve it?

If you have forgotten your password, click on the 'Login' button on the homepage.  Enter your school roll number, then select the ‘Forgot Password’ button.  Your password will be sent to the email address that you chose when setting up your TextaParent.ie account. The website will confirm the email address to which it has sent the reminder.


Q 9. I have the correct roll number and password, but I am unable to log-in

The three main causes of difficulty in logging in to the TextaParent.ie website are:

1.Trying to log-in via the 'I'm New,'Get Started' button.  This button is only for schools that do not have a Textaparent.ie account and are setting one up for the first-time

2.Providing an incorrect password or not typing the password correctly during the log-in process (Check whether the ‘Caps Lock’  or ’Num Lock’ key is activated)

3.Cookies’ are disabled in browser settings. ‘Cookies’ are small text files that make sure that people are logged in. In technical terms, cookies save the session. Whether they are enabled or disabled is a browser setting. It also could be a setting within security software that might have disabled cookies because of a perceived security risk.


Q 10. How can I change the School Password

You can now change the password for the school account if you wish. You will need to be logged on as the Principal to do this. Note that you will need to notify all users of the account that the password has changed.


Q 11. How do i add a new sender ID?

How do I add a Sender

The school’s ‘Short Name’ has been copied across as a ‘Sender’ so you can use this if you wish. To set a new sender, go to the ‘School Profile’ screen.

On the top half of the screen is a new area to add and remove Senders and to set a Sender as the default for the school

To add a new Sender, click ‘Add’ and type in the name of the person you would like to send the text from (max 11 characters)

You can add as many ‘Senders’ as you wish

To set a default Sender, select the relevant name from the list and click the ‘Default’ button


Q 12. How many text units should I purchase for my school?

The number of text units that a school purchases will depend on the size of the school and how frequently the school will use TextaParent.ie. As a guide, calculate the number of families in your school and estimate the number of times that the school will need to communicate with parents/guardians, staff etc. Use this number to determine which ‘text unit bundle’ to select – see below for more information.


Q 13. Do I have to use my text units within a certain time frame?

There is no expiry date on text units purchased.  If a school has text units in their account at the end of school calendar year, these text units are carried over to the new school year.


Q 14. How much does it cost to send a text message?

The cost to send one 'standard' text message to a parent/guardian mobile number is 5 cent per text message. Please see the next question in relation to the length and cost of messages containing standard characters only and text messages containing non-standard characters.


Q 15. Can TextaParent.ie accommodate fadas and non-standard characters?

The previous version of TextaParent.ie was not able to send fadas or the Euro € sign, or other 'non-standard' characters. We have further developed the new TextaParent.ie so that it does send the exact characters that you type/paste. It will also greatly reduce the amount of 'weird symbols' that can occur when non-standard characters are used. Tá muid an-bhródúil go bhfuil scoileanna in ann teachtaireachtaí trí mheain na gaeilge a sheoladh tríd TextaParent faoi láthair.

 

The new TextaParent.ie enables you to send two classes of message - standard (ordinary), and non-standard (for fadas / non-standard symbols)

Texts with only 'standard' characters
• These texts allow up to 160 characters or less and cost 1 text unit
• These will be the most common texts you will send

Texts with 'non-standard' characters
• These are texts which contain a fada, or a €, or any other non-standard character
• These texts allow up to 70 characters or less and cost 1 text unit
• Removing the € or á, in order to contain only standard characters is possible (and the limit goes back up to 160)

In summary, it's your choice whether to use a standard (160 character) or non-standard (70 character) message. Also, remember that you can go over either limit of 160/70 characters, but this tips you into your second 'Text Unit' per message. The new TextaParent also shows a warning just under the message-typing area, so people can revise and for example replace € with EU or if they want to ensure they use 'standard characters' and thus benefit from the maximum 160 characters.

Tips
• Type your message using the keyboard, to ensure standard characters throughout
• Watch out for the 70-character warning (under the text-entry space), and replace any fadas / € / non standard “or ' with ones from your keyboard in order to resolve unwanted characters. 

Some background technical notes:

Character Sets:
• 'Standard' Character Set: This character set has a palette of 128 ascii values, 0 to 127 - is 7-bit, and allows 160 characters
• 'Non-Standard' Character Set: This character set has a palette of 256 ascii values, 0 to 255 - is 16-bit, and allows 70 characters
• Each character set is exclusive; i.e. once you type/paste a non-standard character, the system jumps to 16-bit, 70 characters
• These limitations are imposed by international standards and telephony protocols - not by TextaParent.ie

Idiosyncrasies:
• The standard character set actually includes é - as this letter is sometimes used in English. Therefore you can usually include a é in the standard character set.
• Various non-standard apostrophes and speech marks will tip a text message into being a 'non-standard message'. These can be hard to spot, and usually occur when pasted from other sources (eg from Microsoft Word). These will not occur when characters are typed using the keyboard. So for example " and ' are indeed standard characters - but “” and “” are non-standard, as I pasted these in from Microsoft Word.


Q 16. Why is there a price difference between English and Gaeilge text messages?

Leis an úirlis nua-tógtha TextaParent.ie, is féidir teacs cruinn a sheoladh trí mheáin na gaeilge. San aimsir chaite, bheadh caractéir aisteach i do theacs nuair a thagadh siad isteach i do fón póca. Anois, le TextaParent.ie - beidh muinín agat go mbeidh gach fada san áit cheart gan na charactéir aisteach seo.

Agus tú ag cló-scríobh, feictear ar TextaParent.ie go a-athraíonn an fógra "1 text unit gives up to 160 characters" go dtí "Using non-standard characters means that 1 Text Unit allows up to 70 characters" díreach nuair a chuireann tú fada isteach. Léigh thíos chun mhiniú an rabhadh seo a thuiscint.

IDIRDHEALÚ THEANGA? (LANGUAGE DISCRIMINATION?)
A question that often arises is - why am I restricted to just 70 characters in my 1 Text Unit message as gaeilge - whereas english messages allow up to 160 characters? Is TextaParent.ie imposing this limit - or is it an standard limitation?

Firstly, this is an external circumstance that TextaParent.ie is not happy about - but like other SMS services and telecoms providers, the use of fadas automatically decreases the amount of characters in a 1-unit SMS from 160 to 70. We are actively trying to find ways around this, but at the moment it is an immutable standard that is imposed and must be adhered to by gateway providers, telecoms providers, telephone manufacturers - any equipment in the GSM / SMS sphere.

Some Facts:
1. The old TextaParent.ie and many other providers provided space for 160 characters. Although you can type up to 160 characters including fadas, when the text arrives, the á,í,ó,ú, € etc. may be changed into some weird symbols. This sometimes pushes your text (which may have been only 158 typed characters) into a second text message charge (as the encoded/sent message translated to 162 characters, for example)
2. Unfortunately, this is in no way a situation that we can either reverse or ameliorate. The ‘situation’ is an international standard. These GSM and SMS standards were originally developed by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and EVERY SMS operator/gateway/provider/phone manufacturer have no choice BUT to use these standards. In short, these standards dictate:

• 160 characters is the limit if 7-bit character encoding is used. (7-bit character encoding is suitable for encoding Latin characters like English alphabets)
• 70 characters is the limit if 16-bit Unicode UCS2 character encoding is used. (SMS text messages containing non-Latin characters like áíóú € etc)
• In summary, the use of fadas in ANY telecoms system necessitates 16-bit encoding. 16-bit encoding restricts SMS messages to 70 characters
 
3. You have the option to amend any non-standard character (eg change € to EUR; change á to a; etc.) in order to benefit from / revert to 160 characters
4. Interestingly, the character é is part of the 7-bit character set, (probably due to etymology of french-origin words in english) so é can be included in 160-character messages without "jumping track" to the 16-bit 70-character restriction.
5. Please see below for some references about GSM and SMS standards. We hope that you understand and appreciate that IPPN / TextaParent.ie are not responsible for this effective discrimination.

Yes, the website does support non-standard characters.  Please note that the number of characters available per text message is dependent on whether a text message contains standard characters only or contains non-standard characters.

 Text messages with all standard characters can avail of up to 160 characters per text unit. Text messages using any non-standard characters (such as á, í, ó, ú, €, £, `) can avail of up to 70 characters per text unit.

Click here for further information

It is also important to note that these 'non standard' characters may not display correctly on certain mobile phone handsets therefore it may be advisable to avoid using them, particularly for urgent messages to parents.  


Q 18. What is the character length per text message sent?

The maximum length of one text message to a parent/guardian is 450 characters for standard format and 210 characters where non-standard characters (such as á, í, ó, ú, €, £,) are used.


Q 19. Emoticons are appearing in text messages - how do I stop them?

Emoticons (such as Cool) are icons denoting a 'mood' which are displayed on mobile phones and are activated by a combination of letters typed into a mobile phone text message (or a text messaging service such as TextaParent.ie).

You may inadvertently include a combination of letters which the receiving mobile phone then'translates' into an 'emoticon'. TextaParent does not translate your text into emoticons - it happens on the phone handset. The only way to completely avoid this happening is to avoid using the relevant combinations of characters.

To find out more, please visit http://messenger.yahoo.com/features/emoticons/


Q 20. Can i print my Contact List?

Can I print my Contact list?

If you would like to ‘export’ your contact information to Excel (i.e. save it in an Excel spreadsheet), that facility is now available.

To access it, select ‘My Contacts’.The ‘Export to Excel’ button is available both on the Individual Contacts tab and the Groups tab


Q 21. How do I purchase TextaParent.ie text units?

There are two methods to purchase text units:
1. Cheque payment: Cheques are to be made payable to TextaParent.ie and sent to the IPPN Support Office, Glounthaune, Co Cork.  Please include the school roll number on the back of the cheque to identify the school.  When your cheque has been received by the IPPN Support Office, you will be notified by email that your account has been credited with your text units and available for immediate use


2. Online Payment: To purchase text units, simply log in to your TextaParent.ie account.  Go to the ‘Buy Text Units’ tab on the vertical tool bar to purchase your text units via the Paypal interface.  Visa, Master Card, American Express and Visa Debit card payments are all accepted.  A minimum of 500 and a maximum of 10,000 text units can be purchased online (Text units can be purchased in quantities of 500 e.g. 500, 1000, 1500 etc).