Australian schools use of digital communications is years behind, according to Australia’s main provider of school websites.

In response to an internal review which found many sites were outdated, contained incorrect information, suffered from poor design, difficult navigation and a lack of regular communications, Sponsor-ed commissioned Acxiom to conduct a study into the online habits and preferences of Australia parents. The study found that 75% of parents use social networking and media sites, with the majority stating they’d prefer to receive information on their child’s education online.

In addition, 77% preferred to find news and calendar information online and 80% preferred to receive newsletter digitally.

Acxiom found evidence of social media tools infiltrating the classroom, but an underlying fear of releasing the tools to parents is inhibiting.

“School websites are no different to any business site. They need to promote themselves and provide essential information to both potential and existing customers. If the website is out of date, most Internet users will pass it by in their search for a better service,” said Denis Masseni, director of Sponsor-ed.

“In some cases, it would be better if the website didn’t exist at all because of the negative impact of a poorly managed site.”