4 Benefits of Electronic Signatures for Education Institutions and Schools

Kamran Shafii |

Edtech — the use of technology in education — has exploded with the digital revolution of the past few years. The value of the global edtech market is expected to reach $404 billion by 2025. From kindergarten to college, the changing landscape of education is more epitomized by devices than lockers.

Students and their parents are accustomed to using technology in all aspects of their lives, and school is no exception. Electronic signature platforms allow schools and universities to tap into the power of edtech to speed up traditionally paper-based processes for more efficient operations and a better student experience. 

The Importance of Electronic Signatures for Educational Institutions

Between student applications, medical forms, parent handbooks, field trip permission slips, dorm contracts, and technology use policies, back to school often means being flooded with paperwork. Electronic signature options simplify student records management, allowing parents and adult students to sign and return digital documents quickly and access them whenever needed instead of digging through an overstuffed backpack. 

4 Benefits of Electronic Signatures in the Education Industry

There’s no doubt that electronic signatures are convenient, but are they legal? And what is a digital signature? An online signature uses various technology, such as blockchain or digital certificates, to create a unique signature specific to the document and the person signing it. If the document is changed after it’s signed, the signature is invalid.

As for legality, in 2000, the US Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-sign) Act recognized the validity of electronic signatures, provided they meet certain requirements. E-signatures allow educational institutions to reduce the resources, cost, and labor involved in handling academic documents. Read on to discover the top benefits of electronic signatures for education. 

1. Streamlined Administrative Processes

The administrative tasks associated with school documents seem never-ending. Administrative expenses are rising at most colleges, raising tuition prices for everyone. One effective method of reducing administrative costs is automating business processes. 

Electronic signature platforms let you create contracts, send them out for signatures, and safely store them in the cloud for easy access. You can set up automated reminders for parents or students who forget to sign, eliminating the need to manually follow up. You also don’t have to worry about students losing forms on the way home — a significant issue when you deal with paper documents. 

2. Enhanced Security and Compliance

An e-signature provider will explain how to insert a digital signature in a PDF to meet the E-sign Act requirements. Digital signatures have more security features than traditional signatures because the documents can’t be altered after signing. Electronic signatures include identity verification features, such as multi-factor authentication, which use email, SMS, or other personal identifiers to ensure that the right person is signing the document.

When you use online signatures, you create a digital trail with a detailed log of all activity related to a specific document, including timestamps of when the document was accessed, reviewed, and signed. This audit trail offers transparency and can be crucial for resolving disputes or proving regulatory compliance.

3. Efficient Document Workflow and Approval

Efficient document workflow can significantly reduce the amount of work administrative staff has to do, freeing them up to focus on more high-value tasks. Using digital solutions, such as electronic signatures and document management systems, improves turnaround times and speeds up your workflow. 

An e-signature platform allows you to create and upload a document once and then route it to the appropriate person to review and approve it. Once approved, you can send it out to all students or parents who need to sign it. They can sign the document from any device whenever it’s convenient for them.

By setting predetermined rules, forms will automatically be sent to the relevant person or department after it’s signed. The forms are then stored on the cloud with search capabilities, making it easy to locate any document when needed.

4. Improved Parent and Student Experience

Though the current model of education has its roots in the 19th century, it’s changed drastically in the last decade. Smartboards and tablets have largely replaced chalkboards and books. Today’s students are digital natives who’ve grown up in the information age. Electronic signatures and the digitized experience are natural for them. 

Dealing with paper forms that need to be physically signed and returned is frustrating. Online signatures provide a frictionless signing process. Digital documents also simplify record-keeping and increase transparency for parents and students. Parents don’t have to wonder if their child lost a form or forgot to bring it home. They can verify whether forms have been signed from their email. 

Use Cases of Digital Signatures in Education

Electronic signatures can be used for any document that needs to be signed. Some of the most popular use cases in the education sector include: 

  • Student enrollment and registration forms: Traditionally, student enrollment and registration involve a large amount of paperwork that needs to be printed, filled out, signed, and returned to the school. With digital signatures, the entire process is more streamlined and efficient. Parents or students can complete and sign these forms online at their convenience, expediting the process and reducing errors that can occur from illegible handwriting or misplaced documents.
  • Consent forms for field trips and activities: Instead of distributing paper forms that students must take home and then return signed, schools can send parents digital forms to sign electronically. Parents can sign off on their child’s participation instantly, eliminating the risk of forms getting lost or forgotten. Teachers can easily track which students have received permission to participate in a given event, preventing the heartbreak of a child missing out because they forgot to return their permission slip.
  • Faculty and administrative staff contracts and agreements: Digital signatures simplify the process of finalizing contracts and agreements for faculty and administrative staff. This can be particularly helpful for adjunct faculty or staff who may not be on campus regularly. Digital processes also expedite onboarding, allowing new hires to get to work faster — a critical consideration given the national teacher shortage
  • Official student records authentication and verification: Digital signatures can maintain the integrity of official student records. When a transcript, diploma, or other official record is issued, a digital signature can authenticate the document, verifying that it hasn’t been altered and came from a legitimate source. This is particularly important in higher education, where employers and other institutions often need to verify the authenticity of academic records. 

Eliminate Physical Signing for a More Efficient Student Experience

With jSign, schools and universities can conserve resources and reduce costs associated with handling student documentation. Eliminate the hassle and waste of academic paperwork while improving staff productivity and student experiences. Sign up today to make this school year the best yet. 

Kamran Shafii
Manager, SEO Content

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