I had a plan this summer: get our school a journalism student-run Facebook page. I was going to present five excellent reasons to the school board to let us try a page. But first, I wanted to know what controls and problems a Facebook Page Administrator would have. I set up a test account (clearly marked in the description as only a test-page), and made one post. I told one student editor to look and see what they thought. By the end of the day, I had 26 followers. By the end of the week (after a few more posts) 151 likes and a few of the posts were seen by over 1000 people.
The parents, students and school board members were all craving an online presence to promote our school and celebrate its victories (two state bids in the first two weeks helped). We were generating amazing marketing for our school free of charge, and with not too much extra effort.
I do wish I could have gotten that administrative permission first. I wish my staff and I could have completely set up our page and focus before the rush of followers. However, I’m glad that things happened the way they did so we have no way of turning back.
If you are questioning if Facebook and an online presence are right for you and your school, I challenge you to look at my five reasons to give it a try. You can also check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RSMHawks and see for yourself what amazing community-building potential it has.
5 Reasons Remsen St. Mary’s Should Have a Facebook Presence
(apply these 5 reasons to your school or your own publication staff)
1) RSM is going 1:1.
It is time to stop being afraid technology. We need to embrace the fantastic means of social communication that is out there. How can we as a school say that we are trying to use technology when we aren’t using some of the easiest, most familiar tools available? Many people including students and parents have Facebook on their phones. Students already have access to Facebook on their personal computers in the school building (only on school computers is the site blocked). It would be a great way to show that the school is embracing technology and encouraging teachers/students to use it.
This is what you find if you search for Remsen St. Mary’s on Facebook (As of June 30).
This is RSM’s current Facebook presence which is beyond sad. I find it interesting that 109 people liked this non-existent page that doesn’t even have a school photo. If St. Mary’s is trying to attract more students, shouldn’t it at the bare minimum have some actual information about the school available on a static page (which means no changes nor audience comments)?
And, the scary thing is: at the current moment, anyone could create a page for our school. It could be a faculty member, an alumni, a student, a community member, etc… It could be anyone including someone who doesn’t particularly like RSM. And there would be little to no way of stopping such a page or finding out who is controlling it.
The possibilities are endless about the information we could quickly communicate to parents and students. Simple updates could include:
- School closing and schedule changes
- Links to new photos and stories available on pre-existing school webpages
- Sports scores
- Promotions of upcoming school events
Not only could we instantly share a lot of information, the audience would be able to decide whether they want to read it or casually ignore it with the swipe of a finger/scroll bar.
4) As a teaching tool.
Our students are on the web. They are using Facebook and Twitter and tons of sites that I probably haven’t been to or heard of. We need to teach them about using technology and sharing information responsibly. We need to teach them how to interact with others and with entities in our global digital world. We can use the page to start a conversation about appropriate use rather than wait until they make a mistake outside of school and have backlash come into the school (which always does). The things our students do on the web reflect back on RSM. Shouldn’t we teach them how to use the internet responsibly to minimize the mistakes they make in life.
5) Student ownership.
Let this Facebook page belong to the journalism students. Let them have a form of media that they can embrace for current events. The local paper, the school website, even the Good News are created for and highly controlled by adults which results in the students not having a lot of interest in their content or creation. The students should be able to decide (with guidance) what sort of content updates the Facebook page has. The audience of the page would be aware that the student’s are making the choices on content, are proud of the things happening in school, and are learning in their process (even when they make mistakes).