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How might we use Facebook/social media to connect to our school community?

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Started by Enabling e-Learning 14 Jun 2011 8:26am () Replies (19)

Tara T-J recently shared this tweet that caught my eye:


She writes in her recent blog post that:

"I have been subtlety campaigning for a Facebook page at my school.  
The main reasons being: 
  • to engage our community 
  • to reduce our paper use 
  • to celebrate children, sports teams, teachers, and general school successes
  • to gain an insight into how many of our families have regular access (whether it be through home, work, education, library etc) to computers and/or mobile device
I don't know of many schools doing this (I am sure there are some though).  I know of Willowbank School in Auckland, Albany Senior High School, Coastal Taranaki School, and ACTS community school in Tonga (Go Miss Bramston!)

I have several unapproved friend requests on my own Facebook account (parents, ex students, current students) but have not been able to honour them.  We need to protect ourselves as educators and be very wary of how far we cast the net when it comes to our private lives.

However, facebook is a powerful tool.  It is a tool that is being used by our families.  The newsletters crumpled at the bottom of our kids bags are not always getting through.  So if our families are logging onto Facebook on a regular basis, why shouldn't we be there?" [Read more...]

"How? and Help!" Are you on the same journey as Tara?



  • Max Riley (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2011 1:37pm ()

    I think all schools should have a Facebook page - the most important reason - so there is one and it is managed by your school. If your school does not have a Facebook page (or group) then anyone can set one up such as a current or x-student.(As as has happened with our school.) This is then very difficult to remove, and you have no control over what is posted and can be very damaging for the teacher involved. Set up your profile first and this is not a problem.

    All teaching staff (and students) need to be trained on appropriate use and the power of facebook - such as friend lists. All staff also need a facebook profile - even if they do not have one - otherwise someone else can set up a 'teacher' profile and assume the identity of that teacher (all that is needed is an email and photo) - this has also happened.

    Management also need a facebook profile and know how to use it. How can they possible deal with issues arising from staff and students when they do not know what Facebook is about.

    I have set up multiple facebook groups (for teaching classes, school leavers, yearbook group etc) Knowing how security settings work and having groups set up appropriately is essential. Check out Nayland Statistics 2011 group if you are interested.

    Use the opportunities presented by Facebook, and be aware and proactive about the issues also presented by Facebook

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 21 Jun 2011 9:55am ()

    It's certainly an interesting matter for our times, how you need to 'grab' your own online real estate before someone else doesUndecided

    I think, as a key motivator, there are some great opportunities offered by social networking sites, as long as they are managed as part of a acceptable use policy and within an environment that focuses on digital citizenship. The Netsafe work is key here.

    It is good practice to keep personal and professional accounts separate - and have a clear learning focus for how you want to use the sites (or any tech tool, for that matter).

    How have people already used Facebook (or similar) for learning? Got an example to share?

  • Tamara Bell  (View all users posts) 21 Jun 2011 10:55am ()

    I have been keenly following the journey of some schools as the investigate the possibilities and potential of Facebook and other social networking sites to engage with their wider school community.  I think Windsor School in Chch, are using their school Facebook and Twitter accounts really effectively to reach a large number of whānau and friends of the school on a regular basis.  St Andrews School is a good example of a small rural school using Facebook to easily communicate to their spread out rural community. Karawhuia ngā kura katoa!

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 24 Jun 2011 11:27am ()

    I see you've already mentioned Willowbank School and the great work Jane Danielson started there. Nick Rate wrote a detailed article on their developments in the 15th October 2010 ICT PD Online newlsetter last year. I have embedded a presentaton from this below.

    In the same edition, Liz Stevenson wrote about Twittering in secondary schools, which is aso a useful read - on ways to think about utilising social networking tools in education.


    The 'Facebook in education' debate continues in the Software for Learning wiki.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 27 Jun 2011 2:19pm ()

    Many thanks for the links to schools, Tamara, and to further ICT PD resources, Tessa. I particularly like the thorough way in which Willowbank have evaluated and deliberately monitored the impact of their social media-facilitated communications.

  • Tara T-J (View all users posts) 27 Jun 2011 3:20pm ()

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your helpful comments.  We have started the facebook page and our community is starting to join up, 'like', and comment on our posts.  We are holding a parent information evening for Maths and Literacy towards the end of the term which will be a good opportunity to get the word 'out there'  So far we have just over 30 members which have joined through word of mouth.

    We have gone in with the assumption (as stated in my blog post) that

    "My school has a community filled with competent, responsible, educated, and well intentioned people"

    Comments are enabled and all is well.

    Thank you for the points made about the 'other' facebook pages.  There are about 3 already out there .  I have posted on the 'other' walls a link to the 'official' page. And members have come over to ours.  That was quite an eyeopener!

    I am looking forward to see what comes of it all - we are definately going to use it to celebrate success which I think will draw more members too.

    I am very new to the VLN so only just found this conversation - all comments are much appreciated. :)

    Tara TJ

  • Rachel Boyd (View all users posts) 27 Jun 2011 7:53pm ()

    Hi all,

    I have had a Facebook page for my school (Waiuku Primary School) since October last year.


    We began last year trialing it with a few select parents (mainly some involved in the PTA and some in from my class).

    We launched properly halfway through Term 1 this year and are now up to 70 "likes". It is a long journey. Parent education is important too, I know many parents/caregivers who think that "liking" our page will somehow (like being friends with someone) allow us to see into their personal lives!

    Last year I trialed automatically cross-posting our blog posts on class blogs through to our Facebook account (each class has a class blog). That was highly successful and now that all our 2011 blogs are running well I am going to do the same this year as well.

    Comments on the page are open, and monitored by two staff who are admin (I am one of them). Parents are tentative to comment at the moment, but as our followers develop I can see this increasing.

    The value of using Facebook to connect with our community was only cemented as I watched Waimari School in Christchurch (http://www.facebook.com/waimairi) effectively use Facebook to communicate on a timely basis with their community updates regarding children's and the school's safety in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes. Comments on the page compliment and commend the school in their efforts to keep everyone informed and have obviously reduced worrying and stress for their parent/caregiver followers. An absolutely stellar effort from Mike Anderson (Principal) and the team.

    Tips I would leave people with is:

    • Only start a school FB page with senior management (and BOT) consultation & participation
    • Have a clear purpose detailed for the FB page
    • Have several (two or more) trusted staff members as admin on the page - ensure you have discussed professionalism etc
    • When the page is up & running well, link it to the school website & publicise it in the school newsletter
    • Leave links on "non official" school FB pages inviting them to join the official FB page (as mentioned by Tara)

    Happy Facebooking! and feel free to come over and check out Waiuku Primary's page online too :)

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 04 Jul 2011 10:35am ()

    Hi Rachel,

    How do you manage the way the Facebook Page is linked to an account? Is it attached to a personal account /email or a school one? What would happen if you, or another school admin left? Just wondering how we future-proof all this great work?Undecided



  • Mary Rivers (View all users posts) 04 Jul 2011 2:36pm ()

    Hi Karen. That is an issue that we have discussed in our school and Cluster in terms of all of our online presences (including classroom blogs/wikis). I attended a presentation run by Susie Vesper around this last year and it was a really great opportunity to think with more clarity around such issues as ownership and sustainability. I presented some of her core ideas back to my school, based on her presentation, and you can see a copy of this here: http://mantar.wikispaces.com/Blog+and+Wiki+Pedagogy  Our cluster as a whole bought this issue (based around this presentation) to their staffrooms so that it generated discussion and change within their individual schools. At Terrace End we have created a 'community organisation' facebook page that is not linked to any individual. We have been very careful to ensure the rights and privacy of our teachers are protected - particularly those who use Facebook for personal use - we believe there should be no cross over between their private use of Facebook and what we do as a school community. The email used for our school Facebook page is our administration one so that no one person has all ecompassing 'power' over the site. There are three of us who are able to monitor, approve and add to our Facebook page which ensures long term sustainability and progression in this area. We still have further development in this area but we were determined that the 'what ifs' will not prevent us from taking the next steps in reaching and engaging with our community. We keep our ear to the ground and watch what other schools are doing in this area and, when appropriate, use this to guide decisions and actions we take.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 12 Jul 2011 9:43am ()

    That's a great summary of how we might go about managing FB school pages sustainably, Mary. Thanks for sharing the presentation, too. I'm sure others will benefit from this adviceSmile

  • Gina Revill (View all users posts) 28 Jun 2011 3:50pm ()

    I found this link very helpful - one page list of excellent tips on using Facebook in Secondary School - from Stephen Heppell and co:


  • Mary Rivers (View all users posts) 02 Jul 2011 8:14pm ()

    Our school, Terrace End, has also begun a Facebook page this year. We are a low decile school in Palmerston North and many of our families do not have computers or any form of internet connectivity. However, we have completed one term of Computers in Homes which was very successful and we are finding that some parents from this are responding to our wikis and facebook page. I believe it is important to use any and every medium possible to reach our communities and this is just another tool to do so. Our next step is to find out how we can reach our families via text (bulk messaging) as many of our whanau do not have a home line and only use mobile phones. Finding a time and cost effective method is our challenge.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 04 Jul 2011 10:31am ()

    Great to hear how you are using social media to extend the way you keep in contact with your community, Mary.

    You might be interested in a discusion thread, in a dfferent community (the MLE Reference group) on using Group Text Messaging.

    Keep in touch with how you get onSmile

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 04 Jul 2011 10:33am ()

    Tara, Rachel, Mary and Gina - You're all stars!Cool

    Thank you for taking the time to share your resources and experiences thus far. What is emerging here are some great tips and advice from the community. I'll aim to synthesise them shortly.

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 25 Aug 2011 10:08am ()

    Here's an interesting piece on how we might promote digital citizenship as we use social media: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/social-digital-media-citizenship

    I like the analogy with basketball:

    "...Like basketball, students must enter the world of social media and digital media with a good defense. They must understand the repercussions of irresponsibly using social and digital media and what affects it may have on their future. Give students time to use the device, but make sure they understand that the device is an outlet to many new avenues.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2011 10:32am ()

    Anyone interested in an oppportunity to unpack social media (Facebook, Twitter, social networking) in schools - is invited to connect with DK (Social media manager for CORE Education) and other interest principals and school leaders at Southwell School in Hamilton 2pm, 23rd September.

    For more information, go to ICT PD Online notices.

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