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Tag: social media

Parent Communication – What’s Working? How Can We Improve?

Email-Failed-DeliveryIn an effort that represents ISTE Teacher Standard 3 (Model digital age work and learning; 3c: Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats) my district utilizes Blackboard Connect: K-12 ConnectED’s automated phone system to communicate with parents and guardians via phone and text.  In our district, this allows administrators and trained office staff to send out messages to specific student groups in an immediate and what is often a time-saving way.  

Pros

Important messages that can’t wait are delivered to the contacts that need them in a quicker manner than ever possible before. Vital information no longer languishes away deep in backpacks in the form of a 1/2 printed note.  Safety messages can be delivered far more quickly than simply sending notes home with students at the end of the school day. 

Cons

In our district, teachers are not allowed to use the messaging system.  Instead, they must filter requests through the office staff and/or building administrators.  As a result, many teachers simply print notes and messages, or send them via email to those parents who have email addresses on file.  Another issue that is becoming more prevalent is the fact that people are using phones differently now.  Many younger parents no longer check voicemail, but rather they see a missed call and simply return a call to the same number.  Unfortunately the ConnectED system registers that all calls originated from the school office.  As a result, when a school-wide message calls out we immediately see a two hour spike of phone calls to the office from people who are simply returning phone calls — they’ve completely bypassed the “time-saving” information in their voice mailbox and the office staff are pulled from any productive work while they repeatedly answer identical parent questions.  The system seems impossibly difficult to signup for — I wonder if we are reaching all of the parents that we think we’re reaching?  (Signing up in 5 easy page-long steps)

Ways to Improve

Are there ways to improve communication?  Currently phone messages that are texted out cannot be responded to.  Is there a way to allow for that level of communication?  Would a school Twitter feed assist or enhance the ConnectED system?  Are we reaching ELL families? Low-income families with less electronic access?  The instructions are ridiculously difficult — could we provide a parent training night, where staff can assist families with signing up for these resources?

Learning to Fly (and Tweet): Managing Twitter

Robot-and-Bird-03_small-779473Guiding Question:   What resource is available to assist with managing multiple social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.; and multiple accounts within each)?  On a related note, what are the best practices for utilizing social media tools in the classroom? 

It’s become apparent that I need a better system for managing multiple social media accounts, a social media dashboard. I have multiple Twitter accounts (personal, professional, school, district library team) not to mention Facebook, Google+ and more). I would love the ability to post messages from more than one account at once and also to quickly switch between the various accounts. I’ve already stopped myself from posting the right thing from the wrong account more than once, and my hope was to find a one-size-fits-all approach (and a free one, at that!). My hope was for a Windows and/or Chrome-based application, as I will primarily be posting from school computers under the direction of our district’s communication office (in a recent social media training session they highlighted the legal implications of using personally-owned devices for district business).

Resources:

HootSuite: https://hootsuite.com/
hootsuite1Tweeten for Twitter: http://mspoweruser.com/tweeten-updated-with-slimmer-columns-more/
tweeten1TweetDeck: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com
tweetdeck1

All of these resources similar in functionality and are classified as social media dashboards. There are numerous tools available in this genre of apps, many of them start-ups trying to fill this growing market niche. Google searches are frustratingly unrewarding as information becomes outdated almost as soon as it’s posted. The resources that I listed all allow for managing multiple Twitter feeds (other offerings such as Buffer https://buffer.com/pricing seemed great but were limited to one account per social media platform). They all allow for scheduling posts, for posting from multiple accounts at once, and for tracking multiple account feeds simultaneously.

Issues/Concerns:

* all of the tools require providing account log-in information to an outside entity
* the free account plans are limited in their scope: HootSuite allows for three social media accounts (including multiple Twitter accounts) and their feeds; SocialPilot allows for three accounts but no feeds; TweetDeck allows for unlimited accounts, but Twitter-only; Tweeten is the same as it’s basically a more polished interface for TweetDeck.
* none of the social media tools I could find provide support for Google+ accounts as Google has not opened up API (application program interface) access for outside apps
* Twitter is very much still in development, and accesses are frequently changed. TweetDeck once provided access to Facebook accounts (as well as Google Buzz, LinkedIn, FourSquare), but is now Twitter only. Twitter purchased TweetDeck in 2011. On 4/16/16 Twitter discontinued support for the Windows-based standalone version of TweetDeck. Subsequent reviews on TweetDeck’s Chrome App (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tweetdeck-by-twitter/hbdpomandigafcibbmofojjchbcdagbl?hl=en-US) have been scathing in their feedback
* many of the tools are overwhelming in their feature sets– they’re created for folks who rely on social media for the success of their business. I’m not ready for analytics — I’m just trying not to tweet out posts from my work accounts!

I really struggled in my search for a complete tool with the features I was hoping for. Change is constant. Just when folks settle in with an app, permissions are revoked, features are added or removed. I’m moving forward with Tweeten (http://www.wpxbox.com/review-tweeten-windows-10/ and https://chromebuzz.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/tweeten-beta-review/) with HootSuite as an alternative, as I’m going to focus on finding a rhythm and routine for posting on Twitter only before adding Facebook and other social media accounts for my library classroom or school. Tweeten is in Beta form, is available cross-platform, and seems to be the approach that many users are taking following the end of support for TweetDeck’s Windows-based version.

Best practices/additional information on Twitter:

Guide to Twitter for educators:  http://www.nysecta.org/Twitter%20for%20Educators%20-%20A%20Beginner’s%20Guide.pdf
The Ultimate Guide for Twitter for Schools from Campus Suite: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fdf75v3rr36wsnd/Ultimate%20Guide%20for%20Twitter%20for%20Schools.pdf?dl=0
Twitter overload by Kathy Schrock: http://www.schrockguide.net/twitter-for-teachers.html

Learning to Fly (and Tweet): Why Twitter?

Robot-and-Bird-03_small-779473ISTE Teacher Standard 3: Model digital age work and learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.

According to Wikipedia, Twitter debuted online in July 2006.  More than ten years later, in September 2016, I finally joined the Twitter universe.  The connection to ISTE TS-3 was immediately evident.  As an educator, I’m tasked with preparing students for functioning productively in a global society.  I can’t imagine accomplishing that goal effectively without using the Internet in my teaching.

Recently I worked with a third grade class to help them create a book award of their own.  We had just been studying ALA Caldecott books, Newbery winners, Coretta Scott King honorees, and many others award-winning titles.  My hope was that students would take a more personal view towards evaluating books… it’s okay to have favorites and some books are better than others.   Many students named awards after themselves, a favorite teacher, their pets, a family member.  A few kids thought beyond their sphere of influence, naming their awards after famous authors or their favorite athletes.  As we wrapped up the brief lesson and activity, I noticed the finished award of one boy:twitter2

The “Inspiring and Anti-Cyberbullying Award” was his creation, awarded to a Minecraft-themed book, Invasion of the Overworld by Mark Cheverton.  The student wrote: “I was a cyberbully until I read this book.”  Now, I don’t know Mark Cheverton.  I haven’t read any of his books (though my boys have many times!).  Quite honestly, Invasion of the Overworld is not in my summer reading plans.  I doubt that the author has Newbery Medal aspirations.  With all of that said, it was clear that the student made a connection to the text like few of his peers had been able to do.  

In the past, that would have been the end of things…  I would have sent the finished posters onto the teacher so they could see their students’ work.  I may have posted a few of the most interesting examples in the hallway for other students to see.  Some of the projects may have even found their life briefly extended by being posted on a proud parent’s refrigerator.  Thinking back to ISTE Teacher Standard 3b (“Collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation”), though, I quickly came to the realization that Twitter was a perfect vehicle to extend our classroom to the greater community — in this case, the author’s ear.twitter1

Within the same school day, the author had responded to the student’s award.  I immediately printed screenshots of the Twitter conversation for the student to see.  (I’ve had to reprint them twice for him, as the prized printouts seem to develop feet!)  I emailed screenshots to the boy’s parents and his teacher, creating great opportunities to talk about the positive value of social media.  In the days ahead, I used the conversation in related lessons with other library classes, and in response their output and efforts were far more focused than the first class.  Modeling positive interactions such as this one are a powerful responsibility that I’ve overlooked in the past.  In the future, I’m going to make every effort to not miss those kind of opportunities.

In the past school year, the value of Twitter for an educator and librarian has become increasingly clear.  In fact, I’ve gone from avoiding Twitter to having a new issue…  managing multiple Twitter accounts and social media feeds.  My next blog post will explore some the tools that I’ve found to assist with that task.  One of those tools, HootSuite, highlighted some of the reasons for harnessing social media in a classroom setting: (1) Use technology to create a culture of collaboration, (2) Use technology to empower students to contribute, and (3) Remember: students don’t always understand the difference between personal and professional social media use.  My limited time spent exploring Twitter’s strengths has made me feel foolish for avoiding it in the past.  Lesson learned.

Resources:

Byrne, R. (2015, July 29). Using HootSuite to spread your school’s message. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/07/using-hootsuite-to-spread-your-schools.html

Kushin, M. (2014, August 18). How the social media mindset can be an asset to your classroom. Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-the-social-media-mindset-can-be-an-asset-to-your-classroom/

Crompton, H. (2014, July 24). Know the ISTE Standards T3: Model digital age learning. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=109

 

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