With the schools I work with it seemed that we needed to take a couple of steps backwards and look at the whole communication strategy the school employs. In fact it turned out that the schools had never considered communication with parents in this wider sense before. I've just been supporting this by creating a survey that they have used to ask their parents about how and what they want communicated.
The answers the parents gave were in the end not very clear cut. One said "The preferred method of communication would differ in different circumstances. For general purposes I would prefer letter format, but for emergencies, such as illness I would prefer a telephone call." Letter was still (marginally) the preferred method of communication. But I think the point made by this parent probably means another survey of views with a little more sophisticated questioning needs to happen.
The preference for letters might also mean that parents were thinking about messages and not communication in general.Once a better picture has emerged I think the schools should then be thinking about how the web based communication fits into that bigger landscape. I'll post further developments with this as they arise.