Blogs Are Nice But Where Should Admins Really Go To Engage Parents and Community?
I’m currently enrolled in the Leading Edge Certification for Administrators program. One of my fellow students Burt Lo wrote about the value of an Administrator blogging for his assignment this week. I thought it only fitting to complete my assignment by responding to his post. I think Burt is right on when he says;
I’m not convinced of the the use of a blog as a conversational tool for the following reasons. I have posted on and off for several years, and I can probably count on one hand the number of comments that I have received on my blog posts. (Of course, I realize that one of the potential reasons for this fact is that my blog posts do not contain any information worth commenting on.) So, unless someone an administrator is motivated to blog for the sake of the writing process, they could quickly become discourage at the lack of response to their blog posts. Most of the time spent on my blog has been spent deleting spam comments and installing updates so that my blog is not taken over by phishing websites, etc. Again, not reasons that an administrator would want to start blogging.
However, as a communication tool, I see tremendous value in blogging. As has been pointed out by Susan Brooks-Young, Bill Robinson, and Greg Ottinger, a number of tools exist that allow parents to easily receive information posted by an administrator. In fact, it is so easy to receive information from blogs through RSS feeds, that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the information (similar to an email listserv). In fact, when I check my Google Reader account, I’m often discouraged by the number of posts that have piled up that I often don’t end up reading many of them.
Blogging is a great medium for sharing information but unless you’re this principal and can get 10,000 hits a month on your blog, where else might you be able to go to engage your community? As Burt pointed out, participation can be an issue as well as dissemination and consumption of the information. How many parents even know what RSS is anyway? Twitter is certainly an option. There are educators out there using it every day to connect and share. However, some may find the 140 character limit lacking for sharing lengthy information with parents and community. No, for real engagement we should be going to where the parents are. Any guesses where that might be?
If you answered Facebook, congratulations. Parents and students are on it regularly (constantly?) but they may only visit the school web site once or twice a year if we’re lucky. That’s why every school should have a Facebook page and every administrator should be publishing to it actively. Period. Blogs are great, RSS is awesome but Facebook is where the people are and so we should be there too.
Full disclosure: I don’t use Facebook, but I hear others do.