Transparent Technology

Integrating Technology in Schools

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Social Media Tools for Communications and Marketing – Getting Started

March 2nd, 2010 · Marketing, Social Media

Facebook YouTube and Twitter logsSchool districts are starting to realize the potential of using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for communications and marketing.  I talked with social media consultants and school districts across the country to create this collection of best practices which may help you get started.

  1. Learn from the best.  Business understands the potential of social media.  Kodak’s Social Media Tips is a good foundation for getting started.
  2. Commit the time.  There must be a person who can commit a minimum of 5 – 10 minutes a day to post new content and review replies. 
  3. Select the right social media.  Start with one and add others as you learn. Grandville Public Schools and Zeeland Public Schools currently use only Twitter for communications.  Some schools find success in creating a Facebook “fan” page.
  4. Block for students at school.  Social media sites such as Facebook have the potential to consume huge amounts of time and not support learning.  Most schools block social media sites for students.  Some open these sites for staff.
  5. Add users.  Evergreen Public Schools in Washington provides links on their school website’s front page to the district Facebook and Twitter page. 
  6. Create Facebook fan page.  A Facebook fan page is the best Facebook tool for communicating and marketing.  It may be created and not made “live”.  This reserves your preferred page name. 
  7. Create a distinct marketing Facebook user.  Since a Facebook fan page is linked to a specific Facebook user’s account, create a fan page under a distinct user account.  Note: Facebook doesn’t officially approve this.
  8. Guide staff.  Schools have acceptable use policies for Internet use.  However, they typically have no written guidelines about how teachers should use social media.  For example, how does a district reply when a teacher asks, “Should I friend my students on Facebook?  I’m developing a draft of guidelines which I will share.
  9. Drive users to district page.  Facebook posts and Twitter tweets should include links to your district webpage for more detailed information and images.
  10. Post 3 – 5 times a week.  Make a commitment to post regularly.  If you don’t have something to share, share a useful website or retweet a tip or link to a resource.
  11. Monitor what is being said.  Tools such as SocialMonitor, Google Alerts, and HootSuite allow you to monitor when your school or staff are mentioned online.
  12. Be prepared for negative comments.  While you won’t tolerate profanity, the best social media sites allow open two way communications.  However, how do you reply when criticized or something negative is said?  Plan a reply strategy in advance.  Note: sometimes you decide it’s best to ignore it, or a parent replies representing the school’s view.  

Andy will be presenting “School Marketing in a Social Media Jungle” at the 2010 MACUL Conference in Grand Rapids, MI on March 12th. His presentation, related links and documents will be available online.

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Transparent Technology

February 21st, 2010 · Education, New Media Drivers License, Uncategorized, Web 2.0

My vision for technology in education starts with a single statement, “transparent technology.” 

We must work towards the promise of technology where it is not seen as something separate from the curriculum but as something we utilize without thinking.  I like the analogy of the microwave oven.  When microwave ovens were first available, such as the popular radar range oven, it was exciting to microwave something.  We were anxious to see it in action; to see how it saved time.  However, we learned that some things had to be done a little different.  For example, it did not brown meat as effectively so cooks had to make some changes.  As time and technology progressed, the use of the microwave oven became transparent.  Everyone had one on the counter or above their stove.  The process of using a microwave was no longer a big deal.  We’d just “nuke” something to warm it up.  The technology of using the microwave oven to cook was transparent.Boys looking at oven

Technology in education is moving towards that same transparency.  However, with shrinking technology budgets, a wide range of technology tools, and the need for the educational system to change, the move is happening more slowly.  There will be a day with students will not think twice about using technology resources to support their learning.  With some schools moving towards 1:1 laptop initiatives, the change to seeing technology as transparent has begun.  The change is happening more quickly with children, the digital natives, than with the teachers, the digital immigrants.  This blog has been created to highlight my learning and share examples of best practices.

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The Power of Blogs for Marketing

February 20th, 2010 · Marketing, New Media Drivers License, Social Media

I found excellent posts about how blogs can be used for marketing – now tagged on delicious.  Key ideas included:

  • Blogs are simply the best way to publish new media content. And social media news and networking sites are the ways that content gets exposure.  Social media and blogs serve different purposes.  Content is created on blogs.
  • The reason people read a blog is to: be informed, be entertained, and get to know you better.
  • Be honest about the purpose of the blog and who you represent
  • Provide good content, be regular in posting, and write in a genuine voice.
  • Blogs are about communicating and connecting to build relationships.  Forget about selling and focus on sharing.
  • Blogs help you to better listen to your customers and competitors as visitors post replies to your posts.
  • Don’t remove posts that don’t praise your services. Instead, address these problems and let your readers know what measures you’re taking to make your company better.
  • Blogs build a network as customers follow your blog.
  • Use a standalone domain or sub domain for your blog (yeah – I did that) and one of the time tested blog applications.

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Getting Started

February 15th, 2010 · Marketing, New Media Drivers License, Social Media

I’m currently taking a course called the New Media Drivers License, a popular course in MSU’s Advertising, Public Relations, & Retailing program.  I’m learning about how businesses use social media for marketing and communications.  Each week we have a new assignment which introduces us to a different aspect of social media and marketing.  This week our assignment has been to start a blog.

I’m not new to blogs.  For a few of my courses in the Michigan State University’s Masters of Arts in Technology Education courses, I created and posted to a blog using the Edublog site, a popular education centered blog site which uses the open source Word Press software.  This provided experience as I posted more than 20 posts, added multimedia elements, and created a blogroll. 

I first thought about posting this blog: Transparent Technology for the assignment.  However, after reading about the advantages of hosting a blog on our own domain, I decided to give this a try first.  I’ve owned a domain for a few years hosted at bluehost, a popular and reasonably priced hosting service.  My website www.techforschools.com has been more of a parking lot for projects and files.  The site look and content is being updated to represent a more professional “brand”.  But I had a domain, so why not add a blog?

Adding a blog was amazingly easy.  bluehost uses a GUI friendly cPanel to manage the domain; with just a few clicks I easily installed Word Press.  I logged on as blog administrator and was ready to start blogging.

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