3 Reasons to Welcome Social Media Into Your School District
News on May 20 2021
It’s hard to believe how much the role of social media has changed since the debut of the first social media platforms. It has quickly become a part of the everyday life of many people around the world, whether it’s as a creative outlet and pastime, a way to market a personal business, communicate with others, and more. But social media, when used effectively, can also play an important role in classroom learning. In this blog we’ll discuss the hows and whys.
Let’s dive into the top 3 reasons why you should consider inviting social media into your school.
Reason #1: Promote school enrollment
Social media is a great way to market your school and attract more students. For some administrators who are reading this, you may be thinking, “I am already running a school and making sure the school day flows without hiccup — how could I possibly add in maintaining a school social media page?”
We’re here to ensure you that it’s possible to effectively use social media to reach more families — without having it take over your to-do list. Social media has come a long way since the first version of Facebook or Twitter, and now most platforms have built-in (mostly free) tools that can do a lot of the work for you. Your job is to simply make sure that you select the right content to post and invest just a few minutes to plan your post to make sure that it reaches the right audience and sends the right message.
Interested in using social media to market your school to attract new students and parents? Our first suggestion is to start small and then get bigger. In other words, start with a single social media platform as your primary channel, master it, and get a good routine in place for managing the content. Then, expand once you’ve got the hang of it.
If you are going to share photos from events that have already taken place, you might want to select a social media platform that best suits photo sharing such as Facebook or Instagram. Think about posting three to five times a week with photo memories from events that have already taken place, or post a flyer for an upcoming event and attach the details to the same post. The goal here is to highlight events and extracurriculars that make your district stand out from the rest and showcase what families can expect if they enroll.
In addition to the “start small, grow bigger” advice, here are some suggestions if you are going to be using social media as a means to promote school enrollment.
Explore the idea of starting out with a district-wide account (on your chosen platform) and then slowly expand to add individual schools within the district into the mix. This will be much easier than posting at the same rate on each school’s individual account, and as we mentioned, consistency is key. Also, we don’t recommend adding additional school social media accounts if there isn’t someone who can find the time to post at least three to five times per week.
Another suggestion is to consider downloading the Facebook Business Suite app (formerly Pages Manager App). This social media management tool will ensure you don’t accidentally post to your personal Facebook (or Instagram) page when creating content for your school district. More information about Facebook Business Suite can be found here.
One final suggestion for promoting your district is to recognize the differences between “stories” and “posts.” Both Facebook and Instagram now feature stories, and you want to make sure that you’re posting your content to the correct place to achieve this purpose. A best practice is to remember that high quality photos and videos should live on your feed, but lower-quality videos and photos can be posted to your stories, which is a more low-key and ephemeral place for content. If you’re just getting started, I’d suggest sticking with posting to your feed and then start experimenting with stories.
Reason #2: Keep students informed
Inviting social media into the school environment is a great way to keep students informed of things taking place in the larger community, whether just outside of their neighborhood or somewhere around the world. Most of the major news outlets all have social media pages, and students can access these account pages to get the most recent and notable news stories all in one place, without having to scour the internet for a credible source.
Unfortunately, not many of our students arrive at school saying they read the newspaper, even if there was one right in front of them on the kitchen table or sitting in the driveway. However, we can be pretty certain that most of our older students (at the middle and high school grade levels) have probably checked their social media account at least once (probably more!) before the start of the school day. One idea is to think about making this a part of your morning work for your students (i.e. a homeroom activity). Students could reflect on a current event news story that they discovered that morning or the evening before during their social media scroll. This is a great way to get students in the mindset for the school day and get students discussing with one another.
Twitter is another popular social media platform where students can get a quick read about current events. Think about it: students can easily read a 280-character message as they are waiting for the bus or sitting in the backseat on their ride to school. Another added bonus: Twitter also is the king/queen of social media hashtags, making it easy for students to track and find topics of interest that they plan to share with their friends or classmates.
Reason #3: Strengthen critical thinking and encourage student voice
As educators, we all know the importance of helping our students increase their critical thinking skills. In fact, you are probably already making improvements to the lessons you taught last year to embed more opportunities for students to respond to higher-order thinking questions. Navigating the world of social media can be another great avenue for addressing critical thinking skills as well.
As students engage more with social media, they can develop higher-order skills as they are challenged to make judgments about the credibility of sources of information. This is an essential part of online research. Students are expected to be able to critically evaluate information and independently assess the level of accuracy, reliability, bias, etc. Most of our students who are using social media outside of school are probably more concerned with content relevance than with credibility, so it’s important to get them thinking this way. You might want to consider an explicit discussion with students about the multiple dimensions of critical evaluation. Once students understand each of these terms (accuracy, reliability, bias, relevance), they can start evaluating the social media posts, content, and linked articles with a critical eye.
To learn more about social media in the classroom, and practical uses for student learning, check out the companion course Social Media in the Classroom on our online professional development platform OTIS for educators.
For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.
We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.