Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do people really doubt the value of Facebook pages for schools?

An article that was posted on Mashable yesterday sounds like it's the exact information I've been looking for: "How Schools Can Use Facebook to Build an Online Community". Unfortunately, it's mostly a beginner's guide to creating a school's Facebook page.

The comments are interesting, though, since so many of them are opposed to schools having Facebook pages.

I think many people oppose Facebook for schools because they haven't realized that schools have always needed to communicate with their community -- to answer questions, to address rumors, to announce news, and to listen. It's more efficient to handle that communication asynchronously and publicly on a free medium (Facebook) instead of synchronously (on the phone or in-person), one on one (email), or on a pay medium (sending notes home). Those are real savings that can be put directly back towards the classroom. The additional accountability of parents being able to publicly ask hard questions when necessary is just icing on the cake.

Some people seem concerned about student data, but we already have FERPA laws in place to protect student data. All schools have local procedures to make sure those laws are followed. This seems like a thoroughly-settled issue to me, but I can see how they might not know that.

And I guess that's the key -- they just don't know what they're talking about. They don't know that parental support and involvement is a bigger determining factor in educational success than anything else. Teacher quality, curriculum, etc -- nothing beats parent involvement. Schools can use Facebook to cheaply encourage parental involvement, and that's a serious win. 

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