Taking control of your school's profile: Where to start

So I woke up this morning to find that my post last night on school’s taking control of their profiles has started a little conversation. I gave a talk on this topic to educators and administrators at the EARCOS conference in March that scared a few, made a few jump into action, and others left shaking their heads not knowing what to do. So where do you start? First you need to understand that I work at a private international school. At the end of the day we are serving customers and need to understand where our customers are coming from and where they go to find information about our school. This is the reason why I think my talk at EARCOS hit home with so many. There are over 100 international schools that belong to EARCOS. We are all private, we all have customers, and in many cases we are completing with other international schools in our cities for those customers. So the image of our schools might be different then those of a public school. Although I would argue that a public schools image has a lot to do with how students ‘feel’ about school to begin with. In the comment that Doug Johnson left he asks what steps I think schools should take, where should they start? The long and short of it: Start where your customers (students) are! You need to start shaping your school’s profile in those social-networks that your students use. Internationally, that mean Facebook. I encourage you to go to Facebook and start searching high schools that you know (this is more of a high school thing). Why Facebook? Internationally that’s where our kids are. In a presentation earlier this year to the high school student body I asked them how many had a facebook page. Easily 95% raised their hands. That should be a dead give away to the school that this is where the students are, this is where they find, and look for information. Ask the students at your school. What is the “hot” social space for them…and then get there! Case in point. This comment written on the wall of a group started by students. (Taken from an open group on facebook without permission) Step 1 High Schools especially should start by creating a group on Facebook that they can control the content on. Then invite their students...

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Schools: Take control or forfeit your profile

Who is controlling your school’s online profile? In my presentation to educators I usually say: You need to take control of your online presence, because if you don’t…someone else will! Do schools have someone looking after their online profile? Do we need to create a new position in the communication office? I just got done editing my school’s wikipedia entry where someone had put false information on the site. It was brought to my attention today by a teacher who was told by a student about the edits made to the article. Funny enough as I’m writing this blog post I go back to the page to find more edits made that are false. I quickly go to the history page, see that the person editing the pages is logged in as user: shanghai12345, and quickly undo their edits again. I’m loving this! They make an edit I click on the history, click undo, write a quick summary of my edit and click Revert. The real information comes back. Schools need to understand where students go to get information about their school. Schools need to understand that if you don’t control the school’s profile students will. How is your school represented on Facebook? How is your school represented on Wikipedia? How can your school leverage these places as communication avenues? How can your school leverage these social-networks for learning? If someone at your school isn’t asking these questions…isn’t actively creating and managing your school’s online presence then the school is allowing students past/present/future to create it for them. If school’s are not going to adopt and take these spaces seriously…then they will allow these social places to run the school’s image. Someday I have a feeling that will ruin a school, an administrator, or a teacher. We are only at the beginning of the use of these tools. Take control now or forfeit your online profile to...

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