Facebook and Twitter attract more users every day. According to the site, Facebook has more than 500 million users, while Quantcast reports that the number of Twitter users reached 190 million by the end of 2010. This growing audience is one reason social media is quickly becoming a mainstream platform for forward-looking educators that want to establish relationships and maintain open conversations with community members.

Additionally, many schools are embracing social media sites as a way to reach out to students and parents within familiar forums in an effort to combat cyber bullying. Schools using social networks effectively and responsibly can serve to demonstrate acceptable ways for students to use such tools to communicate with other students. Being able to speak knowledgeably about social media and acknowledge real instances of bad behavior in education can help in teaching the hidden dangers of irresponsible online conduct.

In combination with current communication efforts, districts can utilize social media channels to open up the door to more effective and different kinds of communications among schools, students, parents and staff. For example:

  • Responding quickly and directly to parental and faculty concerns and comments. St. Charles Parish Public School, of Luling, La., has been using Facebook to post information about non-urgent incidents happening near or around their schools, allowing officials to respond to inquiries in real-time. Read the full case study here.
  • Engaging parents and students. At Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District near Dallas, Texas, administrators use Facebook as a way to engage parents by posting pictures and updates about school events as they happen. Students can view pictures and watch videos of their friends and classmates, while interacting with the school outside of the classroom. Read the full blog post here.
  • Build community relations. At Deer Valley Unified School District, of Phoenix, Ariz., officials use Twitter to engage the community-at-large about events or activities taking place at or concerning the school. Information about events or meetings taking place at the school concerning the general public, like voting or school board meetings, can be easily shared with local government officials, leaders and community members to encourage participation.
  • Monitor and respond to inappropriate online behavior. When derogatory Facebook pages surfaced ranking the appearance of middle and high school students enrolled in Beverly Public Schools, of Beverly, Mass., school officials turned to Blackboard Connect, a mass notification system. A message was sent out directly to parents informing them of the situation and explaining what actions were being taken by the school to take down the pages, while including ways to prevent students from putting up similar sites in the future. Read the full news article here.

There are many benefits to incorporating social media into your district’s communications plan. You can reach diverse populations, increase parental involvement and boost student achievement, all by communicating instantaneously, and proactively interacting with parents, faculty and students. Social media is creating a new era in school communication, one that engages students and fosters a better relationship with parents.

Blackboard is committed to helping districts deploy a multi-channel communications approach to ensure the broadest and most timely dissemination of information when it matters most. Over the last year, Blackboard Connect has helped district leaders send out nearly 25,000 messages concerning cyber bullying and school social media policies. With Connect’s social media integration function, schools and districts can send out district-wide messages while simultaneously updating their social network accounts with the click of a button.

If your district is interested in exploring the vast array of school-to-home mass communication options, contact Blackboard Connect to learn more.

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  • Hollie S.

    I think it’s a great idea. I think schools especially should use Twitter/Facebook. Sometimes school websites aren’t mobile phone friendly & you can’t just log on & search for where they post any updates (weather/school closures) that you need right then & there due to needing flash or other programs your cell won’t even allow you to use/download. So getting a Twitter or Facebook update from my sons school is so much better to me personally. Shows schools are up to date on the times 🙂

  • Julia Pflaum

    Thanks Hollie! You make a really good point about being able to keep up with the schools by accessing social networks on your cell phone.