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Administrator Shares Insight on Using Facebook to Communicate With Parents

Administrator Shares Insight on Using Facebook to Communicate With Parents

Are social media outlets the best way for teachers to communicate with their students' parents?

One educator thinks so. Matt Renwick, elementary school principal in Wisconsin poses this question, and said that a growing number of schools in the United States are turning to Facebook to connect with families and the community in an article on EdTechMagazine.com.

"Your news feed may be littered with advertisements that are personalized to your perceived tastes in an all-too-creepy way," he said in the article. "Facebook updates its privacy policies with as much frequency as NFL teams change their coaches. There is also the increased potential for misunderstandings when the wrong word or phrase is posted. Educators can avoid these issues by using only paper, email and a web page to share school news and student learning."

According to Renwick, "Mark Zuckerberg might beg to disagree."

"Recently profiled by Lev Grossman in Time magazine, the Facebook founder talked about how widely his company’s communication tool is used. The king of social media boasts a participation rate of 1.35 billion users.

Consider these other statistics:

  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the second-most populous in the world [behind China].
  • 85 percent of the worldwide population lives within range of a cell tower.
  • Facebook has plans for using drones and satellites to provide the other 15 percent with Internet access.

"With this in mind, have the benefits of using social media to connect classrooms with families finally outweighed any negatives?" Renwick asks. "Many educators, including those in my own school and district, believe so. They have found that the advantages include utilizing a private online space to easily share student learning, tapping into a medium that has an audience and taking advantage of a mobile platform."

Renwick turns to the example of one teacher, Sherry Marzofka, a kindergarten teacher at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin, who was his "first staff member to try out Facebook as a parent-communication tool."

"A regular user for personal reasons, Sherry saw the potential that this social media platform could have for the classroom," he said. "Using a mobile device, she can take photos and videos of student work and classroom experiences and then upload this media directly to her classroom account. Parents can check their feeds from home or work and get an insider’s view of what their children are learning that day."

Renwick then lists the steps Marzofka took to "set up a classroom account and ensure student privacy and safety":

  • Created the site using professional email to keep it separate from a personal account
  • Obtained parent permission to post student images and worked with a school-approved form
  • Got the word out about the classroom Facebook page through newsletters and in person
  • Provided a link or feed of the Facebook page on the classroom web page

"The success Sherry has experienced with parent communication using this platform has prompted her to invest classroom dollars into a wireless digital camera," he wrote. "It will allow her to capture better footage and utilize advanced image features that a tablet may not have. In addition, Sherry can also curate this media as artifacts to support her professional learning goals."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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