Announcing: Secure Data Encryption

PTCFast.com is pleased to announce secure 256-bit data encryption has been implemented on the website.

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New Video for School Administrators

Today PTCFast released its first screencast video for school administrators.  The video, approximately 12 minutes in length, covers the process of setting up many appointments for teachers at a school, and the various choices that PTCFast offers.

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Fall 2014 Upgrades

Greetings to our returning and new users. We just completed a number of new upgrades to the system.

Access Account by Multiple Users: The most common request we had last year was to make it possible for more than one user to work in the account at a time.   With the new upgrade, simultaneous work within an account becomes possible so long as users don’t try to work on the very same conference.

School Web Page Formatting.  We have had many requests from users who would like to be able to add basic formatting to the message that appears on the “School Web Page.”  Support has just been added for italics, bold, and paragraph breaks.  To utilize this, users will need to understand a little bit about the basic HTML commands <p>, <i>, <b>, and <br> (a Google search for ‘basic html’ brings up lots of links to tutorials.)

Mass Unlaunch Function.  A new “Mass Unlaunch” feature has been added on the Manage Conference page (“Unlaunch All Conferences”). Click on the link and you will be shown a list of all launched conferences; then you can specify which ones to unlaunch.

Purge Function.  On Manage Conference page, there is a new option to “Purge appointments and unlaunch, so this conference can be re-used.” This function operates on the selected conference and checks to make sure there are no active appointments (i.e., appointments scheduled for the future).  Assuming there are none, the system deletes all appointments and unlaunches the conference.  This should be useful for situations in which a user wants to update their conference times for 1the new semester (or allow their teachers to do the updating).

Reminder Termination.  When parents register but do not make an appointment, the system sends them reminder emails.  Sometimes parents worry that they will be getting these reminders “forever” (which does not in fact happen), but to put such concerns to rest, the reminder letters themselves now contain a link which a parent can click on to suppress further reminders.

Finally, in response to feedback from users, we’ve also systematically worked to make many of the system messages–to parents, teachers, and admins–clearer and more understandable.  This is challenging, because what’s clear to one person can be confusing to someone else, and if the on-screen explanations get too long, people tend naturally to gloss over them.  We always welcome additional suggestions on how system messages might be improved.

With best wishes for the 2014/2015 Academic Year…

PTCFast.com Team

 

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First PTCFast.com Video now Available

Many users have told us that they would like how-to videos on the use of the system.  The first video, for individual teachers setting up their own conference, has been created, and you can find it here.  Over the next few months we hope to release several additional videos, including one for school administrators setting up many conferences.  In the meanwhile, have a look at the recently created User Guide.

As  always, we welcome all your comments and suggestions (please write us at support@ptcfast.com).

Mike & Ed, Founders, June 23, 2014

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User Guide Now Available

PTCFast.com was designed back in 2008-2009 with the goal of making a scheduling system so simple that no user guide would be needed, but complex enough to support the needs of large schools as well as individual teachers. Tens of thousands of school administrators and teachers have used it without a guide, and close to one million student  appointments have been made on the system.  By typical standards of the software industry, the rate of user support requests that we get is remarkably low, suggesting that users find the system pretty “natural”.

However, the capabilities of the system are quite numerous now, as we have added features in response to requests and suggestions from users.  Moreover, some special needs are complex, such as team teaching.  Therefore, at this point it seemed that a brief user guide would probably be helpful to many users.  So… we have created one–you can download the guide here in pdf format.

As  with everything we do at PTCFast.com, we welcome all your comments and suggestions (please write us at support@ptcfast.com).

Mike & Ed, Founders, December 11, 2013

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Upgrades for Fall 2013

Welcome returning and new users!

 We have just instituted a number of important upgrades.

 1. PARENTS CAN SEE ALL APPOINTMENT SCHEDULES AT ONCE

 Effective immediately, parents who need to make appointments for more than one class will see all their schedules for all their conferences on the same screen.

  This works best if your school uses the School Web Page option, in which case your parents can immediately select multiple conferences, and the system will show them all the appointment time options on the same screen.  This way, parents can more easily “clump” all their appointments.

 2.  NEW PARENT SCHEDULE REPORTS

 On the Reports section on Manage page, you’ll find several new report options under the header “Appointment Summary Report”.  You can now get a list of all appointments for any parent (based on their email address). We had multiple requests for this to help schools quickly find the appointment schedule for parents.

3. ALPHABETICAL LIST OF APPOINTMENTS.

 Under Reports section on Manage page, there is now an option “List appointments alphabetically by last name“.

 4. QUICK LIST OF ALL CONFERENCES AND LOCATIONS

 Also on Manage, a list of all the conferences at a school and locations. This was requested so staff could quickly direct parents to their appointments.

 Like many of our past upgrades, these changes were designed and implemented in response to feedback from you, the users.  Please keep that feedback coming–let us know how the system can be made most useful for you!

 PTCFast.com

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Upgrade Plans for Summer 2012

We are just wrapping up our largest conference season to date, having experienced very rapid growth in usage over the previous year.   PTCFast has now made well over 160,000 parent-teacher appointments!

User feedback was very encouraging on some of the “power user” features added last year, especially tools to speed things up for repeat users who–at the beginning of a new semester–wish to update a large number of their prior conferences at the same time without having to re-enter information that they previously entered about teachers, conference settings, and so forth (as described in our FAQ item).

However, it has become apparent that some users never discovered these powerful features that might have saved them a lot of time.  This summer, in addition to making a few modest feature upgrades, we will be upgrading the online help provided to new users to help make sure multi-conference organizers do not overlook opportunities to speed up their work.

As always, we are continually improving the system in response to feedback from users–so please keep the comments and suggestions coming!

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