Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 Reasons Schools Should Make Social Media a Priority

Unfortunately, social media and schools have had a love-hate relationship. This is because of the sensationalized issues surrounding students harassing each other or staff members making major, career-ending mistakes.

The baby doesn’t need to be thrown out with the bath water.

Those issues are really small compared to the benefits of schools and school districts making social media a priority.

Here are three reasons why social media should be made a priority:

1.     To Connect with the Community

Take a look at these numbers (please keep in mind that there are so many other tools in social media-I am just highlighting a few.) 

The total number of social media users worldwide of all ages is equal to 179.7 million*
·        Youtube users 1 Billion… 43% of US users are Baby Boomers
·        58% of US users are Gen-X (34-54);
·        72% of US users are Millenials (18-34);
·        81.9% of US users are Teens (14-17)

Every one of these populations is served by our schools. Even though not included in this data, elementary level kids, as well.

Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millenials are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and guardians of our kids. 

Do they use video to receive and deliver messages? Yes.

Do you think our school communities are interacting on-line?

Check out these numbers:
·        Facebook 156.5 million
·        Twitter 52.9 million
·        Pinterest 44.5 million

I think that I could guarantee you that your families are connected through social media.

Seth Godin, entrepreneur extraordinaire, speaker, and author of many books such as The Purple Cow and Poke the Box talks about how there are people who are waiting for that leader to come along to take them on a journey. In his book Tribes, Seth explains that a Tribe focuses on the idea of creating and connecting with groups of people who are interconnected by a common leader and an idea; in other words Tribes who are waiting to be lead.

Think about the school and system community as that tribe that is waiting to be rallied around your ideas. Social media can help you connect and deliver your message and ideas.

2.     To Tell Your Story

Everyone wants to tell the world what schools do, the political arena, the news media, businesses who are not associated with schools in any way, reformers who believe that they have the solution, so on and so on. 

How about we use social media to do it for ourselves?

Who knows our story better than us?

The answer is easy: No one.

Social media creates the opportunity to tell our stories.

Whether we want to celebrate the awesome news of what our teachers and students are doing like working with local government, writing books, participating in community service, and winning awards or whether we want to share some news or specifics about recent events or accomplishments you name it, social media can help.
The platforms can help us spread our words and stories.

3.     For Personal and Professional Learning

The third reason why schools and systems should embrace social media is for the wealth of personal and professional learning opportunities that are available. Let’s  look at YouTube.

If you have a question there is a high possibility that someone has posted a video about it. 

Let’s start with your car, need to replace the cabin filter, a tail light, fix a flat, I guarantee you that you will find help.

I have saved myself heartache and money simply from using handy tips from YouTube to help me with preventative maintenance on my car.

Do you have hobbies like keeping tropical fish? 
Help is just a search and a click away. 

You can even connect with other hobbyists who will talk specifically to your issue or challenge.

One of my favorites is cleaning a musical instrument. 

I play the trumpet and there have always been mixed messages about how to properly clean the instrument. Search and click. What do you know? 
I now have a home tutor for cleaning my trumpet.

Let’s talk professional development from blogs like Lynda Williams’ on science, or using YouTube video clips to learn about the science behind mindset with Dr. Carol Dweck, or understanding more about the dysfunctions of teams with Patrick Lencioni.

As educators, you can find any number of consultants, teachers, and experts in specific fields whose thoughts are shared on YouTube, blogs, websites and video and audio podcasts. For example, want to learn about changing your focus on grading practices listen to Rick Wormeli, want to know more about formative assessment you could listen to Dylan Wiliam, want to learn about flipping the classroom or music and movement in the classroom how about Dr. Lodge McCammon or Rae Pica

I think that this would be a great place for a plug for my own educational podcast Teaching Learning Leading K12.

There is so much that can be learned from getting involved in social media that being afraid is only holding you, your students, school, and community back. 

So let's review:

3 Reasons Schools Should Make Social Media a Priority

1.     To Connect with the Community
2.     To Tell Your Story
3.     For Personal and Professional Learning

So what are you waiting for?
Let’s get started...

Here are three helpful resources for using social media in the classroom and school. Check them out.

3.     BAM Radio Network

 Links for social media data used in post