In our third installment of the Blackboard Connect™ social media integration feature spotlight, we look at Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, a large K-12 school district outside of Dallas. TX, to examine their social media practices in conjunction with Blackboard Connect.
As the Assistant Director of Public Information for the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, Angela Shelley is not shy about using every available communication mode and device for getting the word out. But as digital communication channels gain more prominence, streamlined messages and outreach grows increasingly important, and in some respects, necessary for school districts.
Situated on the border of Dallas, Carrollton-Farmers Branch spans across six cities and is comprised of more than 25,000 students. Described as majority -minority, the district’s population largely consists of native speaking Spanish and Asian students, with most students speaking English as a second language. Such a large, diverse population requires flexible, robust communication from the school and district officials.
As digital communication grows in frequency, social media and networking sites help school districts send targeted messages to specific audiences. In an effort to expand outreach efforts, Angela Shelley took to the web to disseminate information about Carrollton-Farmers Branch. There is a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, a YouTube channel, a Vimeo account, a Scribd profile, Flickr albums, all the while the school district’s web site is regularly updated and timely.
Using social media for communication has helped the district reach a larger, community audience, many of those who are not necessarily involved with the district, but value and appreciate information concerning the schools.
“Our Facebook page has been liked by about 500 people, most of which is made of parents and faculty,” said Shelley. “On Twitter, though, we have more than 800 followers, consisting of students, alumni, and community members, specifically local government officials and offices, plus local businesses in our area.”
To better engage the various audiences tuning into the district’s feeds, Shelley began using targeted messages and packaging information in the appropriate formats to best utilize the various channels. For the Facebook page, posts and updates tend to be packed full of important information and details for parents, students and staff, like a recent status update asking for ‘fans’ to share First Day of school pictures and videos. Twitter updates, however, are shorter and contain links to other district web sites and documents, like a tweet posting the district-wide policy on social media.
As information flowed between multiple portals, it became apparent there was a need for a reliable system capable of streamlining communication while pushing messages out to digital channels, in addition to traditional phone and electronic devices.
Carrollton-Farmers Branch began using Blackboard Connect in 2006, as a way to quickly send out messages to thousands of contacts. While social media provides alternative means for interacting with students, parents and faculty, the district relies on the Blackboard Connect system to get important information out when it matters most.
With the social media integration tool for Blackboard Connect, one consistent message is posted across all communication channels. In time-sensitive situations, streamlined communication helps in reducing confusion and stops rumors before they can spread.
“We use Blackboard Connect to get information out to parents, and we rely on it to ensure that messages are received,” said Shelley. “It has become a part of our culture in this district as every principal and teacher knows its value and importance.”