Boldly Go Where We Have Never Gone Before

all images courtesy of google images
all images courtesy of google images

Superintendent Hodge has been the driving factor in integrating technology to our district. He has personally developed the use of twitter and podcasts to draw the community into what is going on and changes being made. Our small town has tried to stay as small town as it can for as long as it can–but our superintendent is intent on changing this.  However, as I interviewed him for my first blog, I thought I could branch out and seek people who, under his instruction, have headed up our efforts in other areas of social media. Now, I am not trying to imply that our district has made leaps and bounds in this department, nor even a hop and skip–more like baby steps–but we are advancing our progress into the realm of Facebook; we are not wanting to rush anything. So, in this blog post, I am going to show parts of two interviews.

The first will be with Devin McMillan who is our Co-Student Council Advisor and he is also responsible for the new StuCO Facebook page, which does not sound all that expansive but it is surprising how much it is used to advertise school events; the second will be with Kimberly Fairborne who is the secretary to our Athletic Director Hansen Maglock.  She is in charge of updating our community about schedules and results for different competitions and games. I chose to pick different parts of the interview that I thought went along the best with our readings.

Devin McMillan

Devin is a Math and Science teacher and a good friend of mine.

Question: Why does the Student Council facilitate a Facebook page?

Answer: The purpose of the Student Council is to promote school spirit; this is done by sponsoring spirit weeks, school activities, and planning service projects around the town. We felt jumping on board this social media train may be able to help.

Question: Do you think our school has benefited from having the StuCo Facebook page?

Answer: Not at first.  But it is better now.

Question: What do you mean?

Answer: Well in a small town word doesn’t need help spreading. But now that the town is growing and that we are trying to reach and invite surrounding towns it definitely comes in handy.  I have noticed a bigger turn out to our events.

Question: What do you attribute this to?

Answer: Old fashion advertisement to promote a new age. We put flyers up and talked to people in order to advertise.

Kimberly Fairborne

Kimberly used to be a paraprofessional. She recently got the job as the A.D. secretary and immediately began to put our high school on the internet with Facebook.  Again, I have just chosen a couple of questions and answers that I felt went along with our readings.

Question: What do you think has been the biggest improvement you have seen from our Facebook page?

Answer: The interaction on the “wall”.  People have come together and discussed their favorite moments in the game and to give advice to the coaches on who should play. Mostly it’s their own kid.

Question:  Do you think this has promoted good feelings within the community or has it given people a chance to just argue in a different realm?

Answer: Both.  People throw around what they think and as long as it’s not vulgar I kind of like to let it stay. Controversy gives a chance for people to choose.

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Insights

While our school is definitely within the incipient stages of implementing social media, I would like to point out a few key points and tie this into what we have been studying as a class. First of all, rather by accident, Devin hit on an important fact.  He mentions that he used “old fashioned” ways to advertise for the page. This reminded me of what Barbara Fagan-Smith says in her article, “The Changing Role of the Communication Professional”. She discusses face to face communication, “Face-to-face communication remains the most powerful and effective way to connect and inspire people.” While this is talking about managers and employees, I feel this also applies to advertisement as well.  If people only think of you as a website, no matter how prestigious, there will never be any honesty or even genuine connection.

Another thing Devin mentioned was our hope of reaching out to surrounding towns. This reminded me of Solomon and Howe in the article named “Social Media For Nonprofits”and how they say, “It takes preparation, patience and persistence. It won’t happen overnight.” Bear in mind that I am again applying what they say to another purpose–I know that–but I felt it connected with trying something new. It is a brand new concept here in our valley to use social media in regards to our schools and trying to bring people together using social media is not always instantaneous. It will take perseverance.

And lastly, with Kimberly, she says that the wall on Facebook brings people together to discuss the games and give their advice to the coaches. Instantly, this reminded me of “Connecting the World Through Social Media” by Christopher Swan. In it he states, “At its core, social media are about sharing information across boundaries.” People in this town are transcending social groups and beliefs that often keep us separate. They no longer care about who goes to which church and your kid said this about my kid. In the end, people are affected by people stepping outside of what they are comfortable with and trying to be an agent of change. I think it is admirable, no matter the result, to try to improve where you live. As a very wise person once said, “It doesn’t matter where you go, it only matters what you do when you get there.”

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6 thoughts on “Boldly Go Where We Have Never Gone Before”

  1. This was a great and informative post! Social media (especially Facebook) has become almost a daily activity for students and many adults. It is a great way to draw a community together and keep everyone informed on what is happening with school. Not only can it create more participation between students, it can make the adult in the community feel involved (even if they are not physically involved).

    When branching out into social media, schools must be aware of possible negative consequences that can arise. Some examples can include cyber-bullying or the release of personal information. There are great resources that can be helpful when creating standards and guidelines for social media use in schools. http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/edutopia-anderson-social-media-guidelines.pdf is one example. Throughout this article it offers many linked resources to find information on how to make these guidelines and what should be included.

    –Also, I loved the insight you included after the interviews. It was a great way to reconnect the audience back to your main point as well as give your opinion of it.

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  2. Your title is quite catch and drew me in to your blog right off the bat. I like the inclusion of some visuals, though I found myself wondering what the StuCo Facebook page looked like or for an example of one of the advertisements which drew people to events. I like how you include the essential portions of the interviews and insight at the end, though I would have liked a little more transition between the two explaining the connection or organizational purpose.

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  3. Hello Eric,

    I really enjoyed your perspective and background towards how social media has crossed more than town limits. I think that your comments about the “baby steps” is very true. Just because social media is out there, even good social media, does not mean that people will instantly climb aboard. Like any trend, there will be people that will immediately buy in, and slowly, it will catch on. I also think that the transition it has made with your school’s parents and their interaction with the students can be seen as positive. Even if they are mostly on there trying to give the coach pointers (I was a swim coach and that made me crazy) parents are interacting with the coach. Therefore, if the parents are involved, then it is possible to assume that when boosters come around, parents will be there to donate their money as well as their opinions.

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  4. Hi Eric,
    Nice work again this week! I really like the title of your blog. It catches people’s attention and it’s appropriate for your topic. Your introduction is good. I really like how you explain that your school is in a small town and how that affects the use and need for social media. Knowing that piece of information greatly affects the use of social media and the reader’s understanding of the discourse community.

    One thing that might help the reader get a better understanding of your school’s steps toward advancing their social media would be to provide the date in which the Facebook pages were initiated. You mentioned that the school didn’t have a general Facebook page until Kimberly started her role there, but when was the other page started? Also, what is the difference between the Student Council and general Facebook pages? Do they both belong to different genres and discourse communities? In what ways are they utilized?

    A little clarification between the two different pages would likely help the reader see their purpose and provide an understanding of who the intended audience is and what your school hopes to accomplish with the pages.

    For the purpose of a blog, it makes sense to only include questions that you think pertain to your topic. From a reader’s perspective, one can wonder what other questions you may have asked them. If there was other information that might fit into your blog, but doesn’t need to go into the Q&A format, you could include it in your commentary before or after the Q&A section wherever appropriate. It may help provide some context for the reader or just provide a better understanding of your school’s social media overall.

    I like your commentary at the end where you tie our course readings with the school’s use of social media. The quotes you selected definitely help to reiterate your points. I do agree with Leigh that images or links to the Facebook pages and advertisements would be helpful for the reader. Great job overall!

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  5. Hi, Eric!

    Great title! It’s perfect for your school’s situation and bravo for it joining the social media realm. Reading this makes me wonder if I could survive high school with the new technologies that weren’t thriving yet when I was that age. Yikes!

    Your format is very organized and easy to follow, which as a reader, I appreciate! Good job realizing it would be best to interview people who you could easily link to our readings and also to provide a different perspective than your original interviewee. I liked the realistic attitude of your perspective. An online media presence takes time to develop as we learned.

    I wondered if there’s some way you can quickly fill in first time readers about the theme of your blog, although I caught on quickly. Perhaps you could link back to a previous post or have tags about high school? And if you wanted to include any other links, like the one to your high school’s Facebook page, for example. Also, I noticed your en-dashes (–) should be em-dashes (—) in the first paragraph.

    And I’m super curious: who’s the “wise person” you reference in the last sentence?! 🙂 Should I know this? Is it someone our class knows? Is it Dr. Gruber?

    Thanks and well done! Your visuals are great—colorful, relevant, and they break up the reading in a nice way.
    🙂
    Dawn

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  6. Hi Eric,

    Another great post this week! I really enjoyed this topic and the community perspective on social media. It is true that facebook seems to bring people together, and communities! I think that if used correctly and with guidelines, it could be great for our future.

    Thanks!

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