Friday, August 6, 2010

Should an Elementary School have a Facebook Page?

Should an Elementary School have a Facebook Page?

This is a question I asked myself and quickly answered "YES!  Why wouldn't we?"

This is a question I asked my principal, and he answered "Let me think about it."

I can certainly understand that there is much to think about here.  We live in a relatively conservative suburb where the community is growing in its dissent for what we do as educators in a time of economic instability.  Could this social media tool be used against us in ANY way?

My principal is certainly PRO Facebook for the school, yet he said that he needs to "think about any possible ramifications and then brainstorm solutions to any problems BEFORE we go ahead with the page creation."

Note: The Facebook page in question would be for the use of the parents, grandparents, teachers, staff, and community.  Our students are currently below the age limit restriction set by Facebook.

I'd like to help with a list of PROs and CONs (with help from members of my PLN- @Grade1, @tgwynn, @TJGoertz, @budtheteacher- Thank you very much!).


Why an Elementary School SHOULD Have a Facebook Page:

PROs: 

1. Better Communication.  Yes, we have a website, but a Facebook page would be another tool to sharing our resources with our parents, grandparents, teachers, staff, supporters, and community.  This blog post from "The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness" certainly supports this improvement in communication.

2.  Why Facebook?  Because many people are already on Facebook, it makes this tool our most effective option.  Why click onto yet another Ning or website when you can click right from your FB page to check the date and time of your child's Meet the Teacher night?

3.  Engage with parents, families, and the community- Check out this blog titled "Parents, Social Media, and School Messaging."

4.  Here's a short list of some other elementary schools that I've found on Facebook:

Samson Elementary School in Samson, Alabama. (Most recent posts include supply lists for next school year, photos from field day from June, notes of Thanks to organizations)

Hilton Head International Baccalaureate Elementary on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (Most recent posts include notes to encourage summer reading, pictures from end of school year, reminders for events)

Eastside Elementary School in Dalton, Georgia (most recent posts include congrats to a teacher on a new baby, postings about the new common core standards, posted articles about technology in education, photos from end of school year)

Eastern Elementary School in Greentown, Indiana (most recent posts include news about the upcoming school year, summer cam reminders, and photos)

J.P. Miller Elementary in Bradenton, FL.

St. Linus Catholic Elementary School in Norwalk, CA

Bluffton Elementary School in Muskegon, MI

Dodge Elementary School in Mobile, AL

Floranada Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Arapahoe Elementary School in Arapahoe, NC

West Hartsville Elementary School in Hartsville, SC

Cummings Elementary School in Grand Rapids, MI

Oakland Heights Elementary School in Russelville, AL

Wacousta Elementary School in Eagle, MI

Legacy Elementary School in Bossier City, LA

Fern Persons Elementary in Olivet, MI

Alexander Hamilton Elementary School in Chicago, IL

I only went through the search results from 1-60 of over 500..

6. It's 2010 and we are going to be promoting 21st Century Skills and Web 2.0 skills in the classroom.  Shouldn't we lead with our walk instead of just with the talk?

CONs (and solutions to the problems):

1. If we don't make our own page and take control, a student may take it upon themselves to create a page. (Solution: We take the control as proactively as possibly.)

2.  Students may be more attracted to Facebook if they know the school has a page.  (Solution: Teach students to properly use social media.  Use as a learning tool.)

3.  We cannot moderate Facebook from school because our computers have blocked Facebook. (Solution: Moderator can moderate from mobile phone during planning and lunch times.)

4. Facebook is blocked at school.  Why would we use it as a tool?  (Solution: Many social media tools are blocked in our school system because of the Acceptable User Policy for STUDENTS.  This Facebook page would be maintained for the parents of elementary school students to make, maintain, and improve connections.)

5. Some people might not want photos of their child posted on the Facebook page.  (Solution: On the Photo Permission Form that goes home in the beginning of the school year about the yearbook, we could add one sentence giving permission for NAMELESS photos to appear on Facebook.  Parents could sign off -or not- there.)

6.  Couldn't you use a Ning or Grou.ps instead to ensure safety of information? (Answer:  Sure, but then we'd be missing the point that MANY people are on Facebook making our PUBLIC information that much more accessible. We'd have to invite and allow members to join which would require much more moderation than time allows.)

7.  It takes TIME to moderate a Facebook page or Ning or Grou.ps or any other social media tool.  Who is going to take the time?  (Solution:  Luckily, you have a volunteer.  Otherwise, we could ask for other volunteers.  We could also ask for more ideas of things to place on the FB page, although we want to keep the information factual.)

8. Someone could be offended by some content on the page. (Solution: The moderator can remove the content.  We're not trying to change the world here.  We're trying to make our communication with parents and the community more efficient and friendly.)

9.  Parents or Students could see that Teachers or other staff members have personal Facebook accounts.  Parents or Students could try to "friend" Teachers or other staff members.  (Solution: If Teachers do not feel comfortable "friending" Parents or Students, they can simply click "Ignore" or explain that they do not "friend" Parents or Students on their personal FB account.  If a Teacher or staff member needed more guidance in this area, I might point them to this blog post "Social Networking Guidelines for School Employees.")

10.  Some people don't have Facebook.  (Solution:  We still have a school website.  We still have Hilton Hi-Lights.  We still have a PSO folder going home weekly.  There are plenty of other sources of information.)

11.  Facebook has a 13 year old age limit.  (Solution:  Our target audience for this page is parents, grandparents, teachers, staff members, and the community, NOT the students.)

Please leave your comments and opinions on this topic to help us decide what to do! :)

11 comments:

Chris Wejr (@mrwejr) said...

Great question... we created a Parent Info FB page this year. I update in a few times a day and parents absolutely love it! It is an additional tool to keep parents informed as well as a way to post thoughts on education (blogs, articles, videos). I think we need to take advantage of tools that are free and available. Note that we do not post pictures on there yet because of custody issues, etc.
http://facebook.com/kentelementary

Great Post.
@mrwejr

Essay Writing Service said...

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I agree with Chris, it is always great to have a FB page. This will let parents update what is happening in school.

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Mrs. Amanda's Blog said...

My parents last year loved our classroom Facebook page. I limited it to an invitation only page to respect the privacy of the students. We sign a video/photo release and every parent has the option to refuse participation. I had 21/35 parents request invitations last year and 16/30 requests from this years parents and school is still a week away. It is the most effective method to share information with the largest amount of parents besides using text messaging on my cell phone.-tnprekteacher

Morgan said...

Thank you all for your comments!

We are still waiting for approval because of the interesting and somewhat volatile nature of our community right now in regards to teacher negotiations and a levy coming up. Our admin. is worried that someone will use the forum as a means of attack, and, we may not be able to respond appropriately...

It's still all in the discussion phase.

I think if our community climate was different, we would already have one.

Thank you for your opinions, as I will use them in my list of "PROs" in our discussion. :)

Kevin P said...

this is elementary school people and Facebook is for 13 and up. elementary kids are too young.

Tia said...

If it is not meant for students, but to keep parents up to date I am all for it. Any additional means to keep parents aware of what goes on at school is helpful.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for summing all this info up. I'm all for schools having FB pages!

daddymav said...

not only am i for schools having facebook as my childrens school in washington did but im trying to get their new school set up with one now

janthenat said...

We must be aware that adding a digital information outlet adds complexity to the already difficult task of communicating effectively with all parents. Remember that any information communicated in one place should be duplicated in all outlets. For example, if we place an announcement on the FB page we must be certain to also post the same announcement on the school webpage.

Don't forget, not everyone has internet access at home. How are we making sure all parents are getting information we intend to communicate?

Also, consider the implications of tagging students in photos posted to the FB page. The school must take the lead in the security of its students in this regard, whether parents have "signed off" or not. If we allow other FB users to "like" our posted photos then we have just OK'd friends of "likers" to view images of our students, learn their names and discover (with a minimal amount of research) where they live. The school's address is on the FB page, right?

Just some things to consider before deciding.

Anonymous said...

Biggest concern: we are a very small community, and have a small district (<400 total). Our parents have a history of taking their complaints to social media, and by complaints I mean naming names and making vile accusations. One parent was upset that a student with Down Syndrome had allegedly hit her child, which then was followed up by comments from their distant relatives complaining about having "those students" in the school! We have had a few staff members, and our building principal, maligned by name. Sure, you can take those comments off, but once they have been seen, it's too late!
Our school will be checking with our legal council, at my advice, about how libel our school would be in such instances. But I can tell you, that If my name went out in a parent rant, I would seek legal repercussions. I wouldn't want the school to be a part of it, but they may have to be if it was on their page.

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