Online Community Manager: A New Position in Education

The more I talk to administrators, present to school boards, and persuade educators that we can no longer ignore social-networks the more I am understanding that what schools/districts need is a new position. Now I’m sure in this current state of economy we find ourselves in that this won’t happen for a lot of schools, but I do believe private schools and those who are in highly competitive areas (like here in Bangkok) can not ignore this position any longer. The Position is called an Online Community Manager and it’s not a new position. In fact the Wikipedia article about the position has been around since August 2008, so don’t think what I’m proposing here is a new position….it’s just new to education. At the recent EARCOS Leadership Conference (Conference for International and Overseas Leaders) I had two packed sessions talking about how schools need to start moving into these spaces. I believe the sessions were packed as leaders understand where their community is getting more and more information from about their schools and they are trying to understand how to engage a community in a new social-networked world. I believe there are two reasons this position and schools in general need to have someone managing their online communities: 1) Protect their identity: Private international schools have a large transient population which means there are always new families looking for the right school. More and more people are relying on the Internet and reviews from others who already go to the school. I’m sure the same hold true for most private schools in other parts of the world. Schools need to be in these social-network places so that they can control what prospective families are being told. 2) Engage their community: I think this goes for all schools today. More and more we’re expecting information to find us and want to spend less and less time searching for or going to one more place to get the information we seek. Therefore, schools need to start engaging their school community where they are and stop expecting them to come to where you’re at….that’s a change we’re seeing on the Internet in large part to social-networks such as Facebook where you can “Like” something and have new information show up in your news feed (finally mass adopting of RSS). According to Jeremiah Owyang there are four tenets of the community manager: Community Advocate Brand Evangelist Savvy Communication Skills, Shapes...

Read More