I was excited to see the headline on a Forbes magazine piece in August titled – Why Public School Leaders Must Embrace Social Media Now. As I read the article, I was in complete agreement with the points that were being made by the author, Joel Gagne, a consultant who works with schools on communicating more effectively with stakeholders.
Gagne pointed to the following as reasons for schools to start using social media:
“Communications: Often, schools communicate with stakeholders via either regular postal mail or the school website. When a school district decides to utilize social media, their stakeholders can receive information like the “Principal’s Report,” event information, schedule changes, and more in real time. They can also use social media to listen to what many in their community are thinking about their local public schools.
Public Relations: Given so much negative media about public education, schools can no longer leave public relations to chance. Social media allows schools to direct their followers to newspapers and TV segments featuring positive information. School districts can also use social media to highlight the hard work of their students and staff, and their school district’s accomplishments.
Branding: Whenever someone sees the Golden Arches, they know they’ve found McDonald’s. This should be a school district’s goal through social media – that whenever someone sees their school district’s logo, they should think “innovation” (or whatever the desired brand may be).
The above are a great starting point in regards to why schools should be utilizing social media resources. But are these the most important reasons for us to start embracing social media? In my mind, these are low-level tasks that have been and always will be important to any organization, including schools.
However, the biggest concern I have with school leaders be unwilling to utilize social media resources, or even worse banning them in their school, is the fallout for the students. Students who do not know how to utilize these current resources to communicate, collaborate, and learn are not competent according the National Council of Teachers of English framework developed on 2008.
According to NCTE :
Twenty-first century readers and writers need to
- Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
- Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
- Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
- Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
- Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
- Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments