Thursday, May 5, 2011

An EdTech Tip for Adminstrators

To Use Facebook or To Not Use Facebook...That is the Question.....

In continuing with my EdTech Tip for Administrators posts I share with you an important and potentially essential method of communication with parents, students, and the community.  More and more students and parents are joining and using Facebook.  They are there, and you and your school should be too.  For some, the idea of Facebook use by their schools brings a smile from ear to ear; the thought of providing an avenue of communication for parents.  For others it brings thoughts of a fear of the unknown.  How will it be perceived?  How will parents react to certain stories?  What if they voice their opinion and....complain?

As an administrator, would it not be beneficial to know what your parents are thinking; outside of the parent who calls and stops by the office?  Wouldn't you like a place where parents can get a flow of updates of the GREAT things that your students and teachers are doing?  Sure, you could create a newsletter and mail those out every week or month...but why spend the money on postage?

Facebook provides a valuable and free resource.  Parents and students are using it.  Our district recently created a Facebook page and since it was created we have averaged 300 "Likes" a month.  With snow days and flood days, it has been pivotal in relaying information and allowing parents and students to voice opinions and vent frustrations, while at the same time allowing the district to clarify and answer parent questions that might not be mentioned on the radio, TV news ticker, or phone call.

We have also been able to share some of the great accomplishments of our students, teachers, and schools.  Whether it is a simple "Look what __________ School is doing" or "_____________ student/teacher wins __________ Award;" we were able to share those stories that often get left out of the newspaper and TV news. 

Facebook use does not just have to be for sharing news.  It can also be for sharing resources that parents and students could use.  Information about Social Media and Cyberbullying would be a valuable asset to so many parents.  Share links to information about using a computer or web 2.0 tools that students could use for a project.  In a way you would be using Facebook to teach parents and students about using Facebook AND the Internet.  

Want some more information?  Take a look at these articles and resources:

- How Schools Can Use Facebook to Create an Online Community - From Mashable, Provides several ideas for how to use Facebook. 

- From the American Association of School Administrators (Who also has a Facebook Page) comes the article: Is Facebook a 'Friend' to Schools?  Provides both positives and negatives about Facebook for school use.

- "Principals and Social Networking" is a valuable report worth looking at if interested in starting Social Media use at your school or district. 

More Information About My District's Facebook Page
1.) We synced it with a Twitter account for those students and parents that use Twitter, but not Facebook so that they could still get the information
2.) We made it where people who "Like" the page can comment, but cannot create their own posts.  This helps to alleviate spam and non-educational posts that might appear from people
3.) We made the settings where the comments only showed if you clicked on "Read Comments"
4.) We have multiple district employees who post news and information and communicate who does what in relation to that.
5.) We created an email account specifically for creating social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) so that none of the district employees were using their email to create the page.

Any Questions?
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