Right before school ended this past spring, I presented to my building colleagues about joining Twitter and using it to build their professional/personal learning network. A few of them joined, but I know most of them were in “OMGIjustneedtosurviveforafewmoreweeksuntilsummerbreak” mode and weren’t ready for the information. So when I traveled to #ISTE2015, I saw a handful of sessions talking about using Twitter in education and I knew I wanted to check them out to get some tips about using it more efficiently and how to get more teachers on board.
One session I attended, “Creating a 140 Character Culture: School-Wide Twitter Adoption,” talked about using Twitter for personal use as a connected educator. More than that, they talked about how schools can and should use social media in general to tell their story and promote what they do. While some educators and administrators might think they don’t have time for social media or that it should be avoided for safety, public relations experts would disagree. There are many quotes out there all saying something to the effect of, “Tell your story so nobody else tells it for you.” This is becoming more and more important as schools are often the target of public scrutiny, and outsiders are quick to tell our story because we don’t advertise what really goes on after the bell rings.
In addition to getting all teachers on board with social media, the presenters recommend using a schoolwide hashtag that everyone posting about the school can use. This helps anyone searching for social media posts to find all of the good things going on at your school. This could be done on the smallest level with only one or two teachers or it could grow to become building-wide.
Another reason the school hashtag is helpful is because of tools like TagBoard, TweetBeam, and TwitterFall. TagBoard collects social media posts from various sites (includingTwitter, Facebook and Instagram) and collects them in one feed, so long as they use the specific hashtag. The result? A neat display of everything amazing happening at your school. Some schools even use something like this on a display screen in the school, perhaps in the front office where parents and other visitors are waiting.
TwitterFall and TweetBeam are similar, but they have different visuals and so might be better suited for different types of displays. I particularly like the look of TweetBeam but there is a cost involved (TagBoard also charges for its “presentation mode” which is what schools would likely want to use for display purposes).
So create that hashtag and share it out! Get teachers, students, and parents tweeting about all of the awesome things your school is doing. What a great tool to promote your school! Plus, how excited will your students be to see themselves pop up on a TweetBeam screen in the office? I plan to get back on the Twitter bandwagon this fall and use some of these ideas with my new colleagues. Hope to see some new hashtags popping up in my feed!