Sponsored by Facebook I did some work recently for the EUN where we looked at the role of Social Media in Learning and Education (SMILE). One of the outputs of my contribution to the project was a professional development eLearning course for European Teachers and Head Teachers on the use of Social Media in Schools.
As this part of the course has now finished (and we have gone into the community development phase) I am re-posting a version of the materials here so others can benefit from them.
This is part 2 of 6 - Using Social Media in Schools – Whole School Approach
Using Social Media in Schools – Whole School Approach: The Video
Using Social Media in Schools – Whole School Approach: The Course Notes and Links
1. School Websites
A number of schools and education authorities such as East Lothian in Scotland have really embraced some types of social media (particular blogging) to develop school websites.
Edubuzz (managed by David Gilmour) is a Wordpress Multi User blogging platform that is available for all learners within the education authority (school district). The EduBuzz project has been running for over five years and continues to be a massive success. Most school in East Lothian are now use edubuzz blogs for school websites and other classroom projects (eg: residential education).
The Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services also has a blog and Twitter account which shows that he is fully supportive of the initiative. Leadership is a very important component of social media adoption in schools.
Some schools such as Preston Lodge High School have over 400 subscribers to their school website blog by email. Effectively this has created a very easy to publish, up-to-date digital newsletter that anyone can sign up to via Google’s Feedburner Service.
At Law Primary School the school web site blog was given as an example of good practice in a recent National School Inspection report by HMIE. This has given other schools confidence to develop a similar models. The sharing of good practice is also a very important component of social media adoption in schools.
2. Home School Communication
Some schools have been very
progressive in social media adoption and one of the European leaders in this
field is Saltash.net Community College in Cornwall, UK.
You only have to look at the Saltash.net home page to see they are forward thinking and pro-active when it comes to social media adoption. This is a school where parents and the wider school community can get up-dates on school news via the Saltash.net twitter account, pupils and staff up-load work, assignments and achievements to the schools YouTube channel (effectively creating a school television station) and you can even ‘like’ the school on their Facebook page.
The school also has a farm animal enclosure and you can visit the pigs and chickens 24/7 via the school webcams. If your lucky enough you can also attend one of the schools live broadcasts via twitcam (an on-line video streaming service). You can even contribute financially to school projects via paypal (an on-line payment service owned by eBay).
Other schools are also making use of live video streaming services such as Qik. For example, Musselburgh Grammar School has broadcast a live music event from the schools drama studio to other classrooms in the school. As the event was not open to the wider community parents and friends of the pupils involved could also join the live broadcast on-line and watch their children perform. The video was also archived for those who could not tune it at the time.
When setting up a social media accounts for your school it is really important not to become reliant on just one person for account management. This may mean that the passwords for accounts are shared across a variety of people. It is also important that social media communication is not seen as being any different to other forms of whole school communication. The Siloing of social media and traditional communication is a known barrier to adoption.
As well as harnessing the power of popular social media services for communication with parents and the schools wider learning community. Some schools, for example Porchester Junior School in Nottingham have also developed a school mobile phone app to help keep young people, parents and wider stakeholders up-to-date with what is going on at the school.
Services such as e4education.co.uk allow you to develop school news website apps in a cost effective way without the need for app development expertise.
5. Whole School Policies
The use of Social Media for whole school communication needs to be included within the whole school communications policy and not as part of a separate social media policy.
A key consideration here is to ensure that you have permission from parents to share information on-line about their children (if this is what you are intending to do). If you do not feel comfortable sharing pictures of children working or children first names via your school social media channels then there are still lots of things that you can share about your school on-line (eg: events, key dates, anonymous examples of children’s work, etc..)
Further information on school policies will be covered later in the week.
Links for you to explore and reflect on:
- Additional Training Videos for setting up popular Social Media Accounts -
- Wordpress - http://wordpress.org
- Feedburner - http://feedburner.google.com
- Twitcam - http://twitcam.livestream.com
- Qik - http://qik.com/
- E4education http://e4education.co.uk
Examples of interesting practice:
- EduBuzz (East Lothian Blogging Platform) - www.edubuzz.org
- PrestonLodge High School - www.prestonlodge.net
- Ormiston Primary School - http://edubuzz.org/ormiston
- Law primary School - http://edubuzz.org/law
- Saltash.net Community School - www.saltash.net
- Porchester Junior School - http://www.porchester.notts.sch.uk