Friday, August 6, 2010
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:
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! :)