Admission records, Progress reports. Supplementary material and endless paperwork. This is what a typical educational institution faces on an average day. And almost all of these documents have to have a signature to show that someone has approved them, or they all become invalid. This brings us to the crux of the problem – signatures. Traditional wet signatures – those made using pen ink and hence named so – are still being used in many organizations, which means not just the signature aspect of the whole process is a problem but the entire workflow.
Many educational organizations have become digitized and routinely use automation to automate tasks that do not require human intervention, though this digitization link breaks when it comes to signatures. Approvals still have to be made in hand, which wastes not just paper but creates a bottleneck in the whole process. All the stakeholders. The students, the teachers, the admin staff, the school, and of course, the parents – all of them are laden with this cumbersome situation.
This is where online signatures come in. Having the same legal weightage as signatures made in hand, online signature software, or e-signature software, helps organizations complete the digital loop and ensure that entire processes become digitized. Take the example of a student getting her progress report signed by her parents or guardians. In the old days before mobile technology, when schools used mobile-based applications, the student was handed the progress card, which would have to be signed in hand by the parent or guardian and sent back. Not only is this a cumbersome process, but there is always the scope for suspicion on the part of the teacher if the signature has been forged.
However, nowadays, many schools and colleges have started embracing technology and taking the extra step of creating a mobile application that is to be accessed by the parents, which keeps the parents appraised of things like the timetable, list of holidays, and so on. In this case, instead of a paper report card, the school can simply provide the marks list to the parents/guardians online through the mobile app and gather their signatures easily. This process saves much more money and time for all the parties with minimal scope for wrongdoing on anyone’s part – a win-win situation for everyone, except probably for the poor child who has scored fewer marks.
There are numerous other ways online signature software can benefit educational organizations. Since the whole process is digitized and automated, all parties can save so much in terms of paper, courier charges, stationery, and of course, the most challenging task of them all – document storage and retrieval. Since the software comes pre-loaded with templates, educational institutions can easily select the kind of report or record that they need for any particular process. Need a template that allows you to send marks to parents, Check. Need a template to elicit a note for time off for a student from a parent, Check. And so on and on.
The software can also be used by educational institutions to allow students to mark their attendance. Since the software can capture signatures in multiple ways, including fingerprints, it can be a foolproof way to gather attendance details whenever students enter a classroom or leave one. It will serve as a declaration of the student’s will to attend a particular class at a given time.
E-signature can also be deployed as part of a wider software platform that will digitize multiple other operations of the educational institution. Such platforms might be of greater use for larger institutions, but even smaller educational institutions, which do not have the wherewithal to perform several tasks due to a lack of resources, can greatly benefit from using such platforms. It allows them to perform multiple tasks easily and efficiently, and that too at a lesser cost than what it takes for them to hire different resources and setting up different departments that can lead to a great amount of red tape.