Best Tools for School Counselors: A Complete Guide to Modern Technology-Based School Counseling
In this new school and college environment, the use of virtual platforms has become prevalent than ever. While your job, as a school or college counselor, is already a difficult one, it can become even more complicated if you don’t know how to leverage the true power of online counseling tools for high school and college counselors.
While being a school or college counselor is a highly rewarding occupation, it also brings a laundry list of requirements that you need to fulfill. From having expertise in communications, administration, developmental psychology, and education to helping a significant number of students overcome many different challenging situations related to their academic careers – you’ve to take care of a large number of essential things.
In this situation, online counseling tools for high school and college counselors not only help you get great relief but kick up your professional skills as well.
Now, when it comes to integrating technology into school or college counseling, a huge number of tools are available out there. It essentially makes the task of choosing the right set of online counseling tools for high school and college counselors a truly difficult one.
But you don’t need to fret as we’ve done the hard work for you. In this article, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best online counseling tools for high school and college counselors in the most sought-after categories. All you need to do is pick the right ones depending on your requirements and preferences.
Here, we’ve listed the tools based on their key purposes of use. If you’re in a hurry, just go through the block that matches your requirements and choose from the tools listed there.
1- Improving Communication between Counselor and Students and Streamlining the Counseling Process
For every school or college counselor, it’s a must to develop an organized counseling program while maintaining a healthy flow of communication with the students and their families. While there’re several online counseling tools for high school and college counselors that can help accomplish this goal, the following ones have gained huge popularity.
1.1- Google Classroom
While tools like Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Calendar have transformed the way we used to organize and carry out work, Google Classroom has done the same thing for school and college counselors. With more than 150 million users across the globe, it has become one of the most sought-after online counseling tools for high school and college counselors available in the market.
Teachers and students can create Google Classroom accounts for free (using a personal Google account) but registration with the Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals is a must for eligible institutions willing to use this tool.
Though this tool is primarily aimed at teachers and students, counselors can use the features in many different ways as well. For example, you can streamline announcements, documents, and other important resources for students, teachers, and other school or college staff. You can also help parents of the students stay in the loop by sending out email summaries of their children’s grades and classwork.
1.2- PowerSchool Learning
Formerly known as ‘Haiku Learning’, PowerSchool Learning is another extremely popular LMS (Learning Management System) that you can use to integrate technology into your counseling programs. With its easy-to-use interface and simple navigation, you can effortlessly create content and quickly share it with the students.
It comes with many innovative features for learners, teachers, counselors, and parents. For example, you can develop individual learning strategies for your students by following their real-time performance. The feature that sets it apart from many other online counseling tools for high school and college counselors is ‘Analytics’. Though it’s only available with School & District Edition domains, you can improve the instructions, curriculum, etc and make necessary decisions by reviewing the comparative analysis of learners’ attendance, academic performance, etc.
Additionally, it coordinates with Google’s SSO (single sign-on) and can be integrated with many popular SISs (student information system).
While individual teachers can use PowerSchool Learning for free, it comes with a maximum limit of up to 5 class sections. However, you can upgrade this depending on your required number of class sections, the cost of which varies from $4.95 to $30 per month.
If you’re searching for an easy-to-use, scalable, cloud-based online counseling tool for high school and college counselors, you should explore Canvas. It lets you assess student learning and develop and present online learning materials. You can also provide the students with feedback on their learning achievement and skill development.
With a plethora of customizable built-in tools, Canvas is designed to create easily accessible and unique learning and teaching experiences. For instance, course content can be developed and shared using Discussions, Assignments, Quizzes, among others. With the help of the data provided by the ‘Canvas Analytics’ feature, you can obtain greater insights into learners’ success and accordingly make informed decisions.
It also comes with the ‘Canvas App Center’ that you can use to enable LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability) to use a diverse range of external tools. Then there’s the LOR (learning object repository) called ‘Canvas Commons’ where you can store course content for collaboration with others and for your own use.
There’re also different mobile apps for students, parents, and educators that can be used to share and receive updates, see important information, and submit results.
To introduce Canvas to your counseling program, you can use the ‘Free-for-Teacher’ account. Though the free account comes with almost all the default Teacher permissions, it doesn’t provide many important features that are available with the paid account.
2- Making Daily Announcements, Posting Motivational Messages, and Promoting Weekly Activities
Learners’ mental health and wellbeing have always been a pressing concern and during the current crisis, it has become important than ever. As institutions are getting reopened, counselors are facing many challenges that have originated during the closures. To address these challenges and help the learners adapt to new circumstances, the implementation of a diverse range of integrated approaches has become necessary.
Here’re the three most popular website builders that you can use to update your website and to successfully play the role of a mental health therapist, wellness coach, and academic advisor.
2.1- Google Sites
Google Sites is Google’s free website-building platform and a part of the ‘Google Workspace’. You only need to have a Google account to be able to use Sites. Using the drag-and-drop functionality, you can easily create some basic pages to share with learners and colleagues without having to know any coding knowledge.
When it comes to serious website building, Google Sites may look too limited. However, you can always create some nice-looking pages within a short period of time to make announcements, post updates, etc. It’s also possible to make the site more functional by adding ‘gadgets’ like spreadsheets, calendars, presentations, and more. And websites created using this tool function flawlessly across all types of desktop and mobile screens.
Additionally, Google Sites lets you choose the viewers that can and cannot access the site. If you wish to make your site visible only to a particular group or individuals, you can do so. Whether you want certain users to have collaborative editing privileges or external visitors to see the site, you can do that easily with a few clicks.
While you shouldn’t have any difficulties in using Google Sites, the Google Sites Support Page will prove to be extremely useful in case you’ve any questions. And if you’ve got some in-depth questions, you can visit the Sites Community where you should get truly helpful replies quickly.
While Google Sites is ideal for creating simple websites, Weebly would be one of your best options if you’re looking to build a quality website. Using its simple drag-and-drop feature, you can create a powerful counseling website to put up whatever information you want. From classroom lesson topics and small-group info to tips for parents, community resources, and many more – you can do everything to maintain the social and emotional wellbeing of your students.
Weebly has many features that are somewhat the same as other popular platforms but it comes with some unique ones that set it apart from its competitors. For example, there’re lots of custom on-site apps available on the Weebly App Store that you can use according to your requirements. Some of these include ‘Team Cards’ to create team pages, ‘Content Tabs’ to create different tabs for different types of content, ‘LiveChat’ to communicate with your site visitors, among others.
You can always start the free plan and then upgrade to one of the paid plans if you need more support for the website. Though the free plan lacks some useful features, it should serve you well as long as your site is intended for basic use.
Though Weebly isn’t at all difficult to use, you can visit the web knowledgebase if you got stuck somewhere. It also has a community forum where you can find lots of in-depth information about the platform and answers to your queries.
As a school or college counselor, you surely want all your valuable information to be perfectly organized and easily available to everyone needing your assistance. And that’s exactly what WordPress.com can help you accomplish.
It’s one of the most widely used site builders available on the market and completely hosted by WordPress, the most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. While WordPress.com isn’t fully featured like its CMS counterpart, it has gained huge popularity among those looking for an easy-to-use platform to build their websites.
One great thing about WordPress.com is it takes care of your site’s hosting aspect, regardless of whether you’ve chosen free or paid plans. WordPress might be one of the most frequently hacked platforms but the availability of the SSL certificate of every plan should help you remain assured. It’ll encrypt all your information to protect your sensitive data.
Note that when you build your site using WordPress.com, it process might take more time than the two site builders we mentioned above. This is mainly because you’d need to take care of lots of settings to complete the process successfully. However, the interface is extremely simplified and most of the tasks can be performed using the dashboard, and hence, it shouldn’t be an issue.
While it comes with several menu options, there’re two options namely ‘Publish’ and ‘Sharing’ that prove to be highly useful for school and college counselors. Using the ‘Publish’ section, you can add, edit, and publish different types of content on your site. The ‘Sharing’ section lets you update your social settings. You can personalize the ‘Share’ buttons and connect your social media pages to your site to help visitors follow them.
If you got stuck somewhere when using WordPress.com or want to learn more about it, you can visit its support site. To get 24/7 expert support, it’s a must to opt for a paid plan.
3- Providing Students with Virtual Office Hours
As education is steadily shifting toward distance learning, the need for offering virtual office hours is becoming increasingly important. It offers learners an outstanding opportunity to contact the school or college counselors whenever they need additional resources or help.
Virtual office hours not only facilitate real-time problem-solving but help to promote community learning as well.
You can use this appointment scheduling tool to offer virtual office hours without having any scheduling conflicts.
Calendly is one of the most commonly used online appointment scheduling software that let you organize meetings and appointments efficiently. All you need to do is set your preferences of availability and send invitation links to the invitees to organize meetings or appointments. All your invitees will have an option in choosing the preferred availability.
You can integrate Calendly with Google and Office 365, which allows automatic updates to the calendars of the users. Additionally, it has different types of invitations to help users choose the format depending on their requirements and preferences.
Apart from offering robust collaboration functionality, Calendly offers enterprise-grade security so that all your communications remain secure always. While there’s a free basic version and a 14-day free trial period available, you may choose one of its paid versions depending on your required features.
4- Organizing Virtual Meetings with Students
These days, a lot of students are finding it very difficult to manage the disruption of their regular social lives, most of which occur at schools and colleges. If you’re thinking of recreating the system where you could easily identify the students’ mental trauma, there’re several tools that can be of genuine help.
Apart from using other online counseling tools for high school and college counselors, you can use these video conferencing tools to check in on your students’ social and emotional wellbeing.
4.1- Google Meet
Formerly known as ‘Google Hangouts Meet’, Google Meet is advanced video conferencing software from Google. With the free version of Meet, a maximum number of 100 participants are allowed for each meeting.
You can do lots of things according to your requirements – from sharing your screen and seeing real-time captions to muting your mic, turning off the camera, and more. When it comes to sharing your screen, you can share a single window, a single Chrome tab, or the entire desktop.
Google has made it incredibly easy to start or join a meeting using Google Meet. All you need to visit the site to start a meeting or join an existing one using the meeting PIN.
4.2- Zoom Meetings
If you’re looking to make virtual meetings as productive as in-person meetings, Zoom Meetings can help you accomplish that. It comes with a wide range of intelligent functionalities – from screen share and Zoom webinars to Whiteboard, Zoom Chat, and many more.
You can use any desktop and mobile device to use Zoom Meetings. One great thing about this tool is the free version comes with many useful features. However, it’s limited to a 40-minute time limit and a maximum of 100 participants per meeting. If you want to increase any of these, you’d have to opt for a paid plan.
Free users can visit Zoom Help Center or raise a support ticket to get help.
5- Producing Short Videos to Help Students Learn Coping Strategies
Incorporating some short, informative videos into your guidance lessons is an effective way to teach your students coping skills. With the help of these videos, you can also provide your students and their parents with guidance on college course selection and the registration process.
Here’re two tools that can help you post these kinds of videos.
Your first choice should be YouTube as it’s widely considered as the ultimate destination in terms of posting video content. Just go through the YouTube Help center to upload your videos.
Next comes Screencastify, which is a free Chrome extension that you can use to record, edit, and share your screen recordings. You can also create webcam videos apart from recording desktop screens. Screencastify can be integrated with YouTube, Google Chrome, Google Classroom, and Google Drive.
6- Creating Interactive Learning Games
If you want your students to improve their abilities to grasp difficult concepts, the leading game-based learning tool Kahoot! can do wonders for you. It helps you obtain real-time, assessment data while your students are answering the question. You can either create a Kahoot! learning game on your own or add content to existing templates to create one. You can choose from free or paid plans according to your requirements.
7- Creating Quick Videos
Sharing interesting videos with students is an effective method to keep them engaged. To do this, you can use the feature-rich Apple app called Clips. Both you and your students can use this free app to create quick videos and share them with each other. To get free Clips training materials you can visit the Apple Teacher site.
8- Adding Highly Engaging Elements to Existing Presentations or Lessons
Do you feel that your existing presentations or lessons are a little drab? If yes, using Nearpod would probably be your best option. With this, not only you can add highly interactive elements to your existing presentations or lessons but create a Nearpod lesson from scratch as well.
This online counseling tool for high school and college counselors comes with a plethora of exciting features to promote student participation – from Virtual Reality and Collaborative Boards to game-based quizzes and Polls. This also lets you upload your favorite Google Slides, PowerPoint presentations, or any other videos and make them interactive.
Nearpod has four different packages (including a free one) from which you can choose according to your requirements. If you got stuck somewhere, its Help Center, Teacher Resources, and Communities are useful places to have your queries answered.
9- How CounselHero Is Transforming the Educational Counseling Space
These days, school and college counselors have become an integral part of the educational system. As a part of this group, you not only empower students to deal with academic, career, and socio-emotional challenges successfully but provide support for their parents and guardians as well to ensure they’re well-informed of their children’s overall development.
Of course, you can up your game with the help of the online counseling tools for high school and college counselors we mentioned above.
But the question is would it be possible for you to keep track of your every single student when it comes to their future-readiness, career path selection, and social-emotional learning (SEL)? In all probabilities, your answer will be “NO”.
And this is exactly where CounselHero acts like your savior. It bridges the gap between you and your students and helps you create a win-win situation for everyone. Your students can choose, pursue, and achieve career paths on their own according to their skillset, preferences and requirements. They can avail of CounselHero’s vast libraries of information on a wide range of educational career opportunities to make an informed decision.
You, as a counselor, can use CounselHero’s different types of assessment tests on different fields to assess the essential traits of your students and guide them toward the right direction.
If you want to learn more about our platform, contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.