Tech Tuesday 2.12.13

This is the first edition of a weekly newsletter (with a mirrored blog post). This newsletter will provide you with technology tips and tricks. This will be guided by you so please comment and give us feedback.

This week we are focusing on social media. As of November we have taken over the social media coverage of events on campus. It’s important to us to include everyone. We think that what you’re doing in your classroom is special! We want to show you off to parents, grandparents, prospective families, and community members! Here’s how we can continue to do this!

  • If you have information you would like to share, email connect@allendalecolumbia.org provide us with
    • a written summary (3-5 sentences)
    • several hi-resolution photos (no more than 10) or a short video
  • If you are sharing on Twitter, use the handle @ACSRochester and we will retweet.
  • If you have an interesting lesson, event, or exciting classroom happening that you need quality photos taken at, email connect@allendalecolumbia.org one week in advance and we will do our best to attend. Keep in mind, we select events from “This Week” to cover on a weekly basis.

Next weeks newsletter topic: Are you a blogger? Why use wordpress.com?

Making Your Digital Presence Relevant

At a recent meeting with our school’s leadership team, I was asked to share why we need to increase our school’s social media presence. Please understand, I am not a social media expert. I am not a marketing expert. Through the use of social media, I have been exposed to some outstanding resources and I have some very strong opinions about how social media can be an incredible tool for our school to use.

Whether we like it or not, all organizations, Allendale Columbia School included, have a digital presence. While our digital presence is something we can never completely control, there are many steps we can take to help make sure that what is out there is an accurate and authentic representation of AC. A digital presence or footprint is something that an independent school, like a business, needs to be very careful about. If current or prospective families research our school they are very likely going to get information that is controlled by traditional marketing (website, brochures, advertisements). Traditional marketing is needed for independent schools, but it must also be supported and complemented by our social media efforts.

As a school, it is vital for us to publish what we feel is an authentic view of our daily interactions. We want people to see, hear, and feel what our school is all about. This information needs to come directly from the people who experience it. I am referring to parents, students, faculty, and staff.  We know how to market ourselves to the community at large because live it everyday.

If we do not actively participate in social media we will not have any input in our schools digital presence. Essentially, we will be controlled by that those who are sharing digitally. As a team, we need to build up this presence in an authentic way. A few examples of this are by sharing Tina Duver’s sixth grade Mastodon Project Blog, photographing special events using our Instagram feed, and publishing events such as our “College Life Program.”

http://goo.gl/Bwz1d By: Shanghai Web Designers

http://goo.gl/Bwz1d By: Shanghai Web Designers

This is not just about marketing, this is about becoming an educational authority and resource. It is about being a role model for our school community and the world at large. It is about using modern educational tools, like social media appropriately. Being absent in the digital world is not an option. We must connect! 

Allendale Columbia School Facebook

Allendale Columbia School Twitter

Allendale Columbia Instagram

Schools and Social Media, Why the Disconnect?

Image from http://www.wdde.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/socail-media-school.jpg, From the article Policing Social Media in Schools, By Eileen Smith Dallabrida

Why don’t schools feel obligated to take on the issues of social media use by students head on? Why do most schools set up policies that limits access to social media? Is it lack of understanding or lack of confidence in the ability to control it? Why does it seem like we are reactive to student issues related to social media use  rather than be proactive?

The way I look at it, we as educators, MUST tackle social media in the same manner we address all other social issues. We should interact with students using social media and we must model appropriate behavior. This is no different than than what we do at school every single day. Social media and technology has extended our ability to be social, and in the process it has created new teaching opportunities.

So, here is what I propose. Let’s teach kids all the things we learned in kindergarten…again! But let’s do it with social media and technology. Let’s be role models for behavior in all aspects of our lives and our students. Don’t we have more to gain as a society if we teach kids to engage each other appropriately, honestly and with integrity in all aspects of their world? Social media and internet safety are not new concepts, it’s the same stuff we have been teaching FOREVER! The only difference is that the landscape has changed significantly and it can be scary. The more we ignore or put these issues on someone else’s plate the longer it will take for young people to understand just how important this is! Too many people have already made mistakes that have cost them dearly (college admission, job loss…etc).

Let me know what you think.

Twitter & TEDxFlourCity

This year I had the good fortune to attend two local TEDx conferences. TEDxRochester and TEDxFlourCity. Both events were outstanding and well organized. I walked away impressed by the great people and ideas that Rochester has to offer.

If you are unfamiliar with TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) and the concept of TED it’s well worth your time to explore the TED website. I am constantly learning and inspired by the great speakers that I have found on their website.

Saturday, June 9th, was TEDxFlourCity at the Rochester Academy of Medicine in Rochester, NY. There was a fantastic offering of speakers. It was well planned and organized. The host, Matthew Bukowski, was entertaining and funny. The food was delicious and eclectic, the venue was homey and comfortable.

I could spend time evaluating and summarizing the speakers, but my colleague Amy Bonner (@artwithmsb) did an excellent job of that already in a blog post (TEDxFlourCity). So, I am going to focus on something that I experienced at TEDxFlourCity that was unexpected.

I was alone when I picked my seat in the small auditorium. I sat close to the wall so I could get a good view of the stage. The first speaker, Dan Tylee, used bread as a cultural metaphor for connecting  with others. I thought this was a great way to start the conference. He even hid bread in small bags under the seats in the auditorium, a sort of Oprah moment. The idea was to introduce yourself to the people seated around you and “break bread” with them. It was a nice ice breaker. So, being a twitter head, I tweeted:

@teptech
#tedxflourcity Bread as a metaphor for cultural diversity.”

Then I turned around and “broke bread” with the people sitting around me. The person sitting directly behind me introduced herself as Alicia (@YogAlicia3). The next thing out of her mouth was “are you tweeting”, which I was. She was also live tweeting the conference. Her first tweet was in response to the standard “please turn off your cell phones” request.

@YogAlicia3
#tedxflourcity Put phones away? Disagree… I promise to keep it quiet, but am planning to stay on Twitter. :)”

So, needless to say we hit if off. We live tweeted the entire day and shared in a conversation with other attendees and people who were unable to attend but were following the conference via the hashtag “#tedxflourcity”.

At one of the breaks, Alicia was asked by the organizers of TEDxChemugRiver in Corning, NY, if we would be willing to attend their conference in November to help with the live twitter stream.

Since then, I have continued to share articles and blog posts with Alicia. I am also following several of the presenters and attendees from the conference. For me the true power of social media and twitter comes from the connections you can make. It can turn a conference with 100 or more people into a personal conversation. Ideas can be shared, connections can be made and conversations can continue in ways that just weren’t possible before.

I have referred back to #TEDxFlourCity several times after the conference. I go there to reflect on the day, to look up information about the speakers, to write this post… The entire conference has been cataloged for anyone who wants to learn about it.

All in all it was a great day! Did I mention that Twitter rocks?