What Is TalkingPoints And How Does It Work For Education?

(Image credit: TalkingPoints)

TalkingPoints is a purpose-built platform designed to help teachers and families communicate across any language barriers. It allows for teachers to communicate with families in their own language, anywhere they need.

Used by more than 50,000 schools in the U.S., TalkingPoints is a popular and powerful tool in education-based communications that translates over 100 languages. Created by a nonprofit organization with a focus on families to help engagement with schooling, TalkingPoints is aimed at under-resourced, multilingual communities.

By using digital devices, this platform allows teachers to communicate with parents in a direct, secure, and seamless way. During times of remote learning this is a critical resource that's more useful than ever before.

So read on to find out everything you need to know and how to use TalkingPoints in education.

What is TalkingPoints?

TalkingPoints is a nonprofit organization with the goal of better driving student success by increasing family engagement and offering multilingual support within existing education technologies. 

By using a digital platform anybody with access to an internet connection has the ability to engage with teachers. This can help overcome barriers that might otherwise have been a problem including language, time, and even mindsets.

Family engagement is twice as effective in predicting a student's success than a family's socioeconomic status. 


(Image credit: TalkingPoints)

Launched in 2014, TalkingPoints begun winning awards and funding from the likes of Google and Stanford University. By 2016, more than 3,000 students and families were being impacted by the platform. The schools launch led to a 30 percent increase in the number of conversations between families and students.

By 2017, there was a four-fold increase in the homework return rate as more than 90 percent of parents said they felt more included. By 2018, there were three million conversations facilitated by the platform, and more awards and accolades from organizations such as GM, NBC, Education Week, and the Gates Foundation.

The 2020 pandemic has led to free access to the platform for high-needs schools and districts. More than one million students and families have been impacted by the platform. 

The goal is to impact five million students and families by 2022. 

How does TalkingPoints work?

TalkingPoints is web browser-based for teachers but also uses a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices. Families can engage using text messaging or the app. All that means it can be accessed by nearly any device with an internet or SMS network connection.

A teacher is able to send a message, in English, to a family who speaks another language. They will receive the message in their language and can reply in that language. The teacher will then receive the reply in English. 

The communication software uses both humans and machine learning to offer an education-specific focus to the translation.


(Image credit: TalkingPoints)

In the app format, there is coaching guidance that can help teachers and parents to better support effective engagement to boost learning. Teachers are able to use the platform to send messages, photos, videos, and documents to give a clear view of the daily classroom activity. 

It's also possible for teachers to invite parents to volunteer and become involved with classroom activities. 

How to setup TalkingPoints

Get started, as a teacher, by signing up using an email address or a Google account - ideal if your school already uses G Suite for Education or Google Classroom.

Then, add students or families to the account by sending an invite code. You can also copy and paste contacts from Excel or Google Sheets. You can import Google Classroom contacts or enter any manually. 

Setting office hours is a good next step, as is scheduling any messages you want sent automatically. An introductory message to invite families to engage on this platform is an ideal way to begin. Perhaps say who you are, that you will be massaging from this address with various updates, and that parents can reply to you here.

It's a good idea to setup message templates, which you can edit and use regularly. These are ideal for scheduling of regular messages, such as weekly updates to the whole class or homework reminders for individuals. 

How much does TalkingPoints cost?

TalkingPoints works on a quote price system. But this breaks down into two categories of Teachers or Schools and Districts. At the time of publishing, a TalkingPoints account for teachers is currently free.

Teachers get an individual account with a limit of 200 students, five classes, and basic data analytics. The Schools and Districts account has unlimited students and classes, and features teacher, school, and family engagement data analysis. 

This platform also offers guided implementation, district-wide surveys, and messaging as well as priority enhanced translations. 

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.