Monday, January 11, 2010

Connecting A School Community with Social Media

After conducting an all staff in-service on personal learning networks, I invited some folks across the building to guest blog. I thank Tom Sklut, Director of Institutional Advancement for his contribution, below:

Tevye sits down heavily next to his wife Golde, sighs and ruefully shakes his head saying, “It’s a new world, Golde.” In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, the villagers of Anatevka are faced with earth-shaking and earth-shattering realities touching every facet of every life, not unlike our experience here in the little “village” of Mercy High School.

We have chosen to acknowledge that, if we undertake to graduate young women who make a difference in the world, they must be prepared to make the most of modern computers and internet web access. The ramifications of this decision are truly earth-shaking and potentially earth-shattering for everyone involved: students, parents, administrators and teachers.


We are wirelessly connected throughout our school building. Teachers and students utilize common tablet pc’s and interactive, educational software. Homework assignments, grades and home communications are all largely computer and internet-based.


Tevye and Golde, as well as every member of their village, were challenged to adapt to the forces of the world within the context of their own societal identity and personal philosophies. Likewise Mercy.


As a teaching/learning community, we focus on what needs to be taught/learned if our students are to become successful in the world of tomorrow. Computers, software, wireless networks are tools, not ends in themselves. It is not the “what” that has changed for the most part, it’s the “how.”


The Advancement corner of the Mercy village, where I “live” is not untouched by this revolution. Technology allows us to maintain closer contact with our constituents – regular e-memos keep our alumnae, friends and parents updated on the latest news, views and achievements. Interested in reading a back issue of the Mosaic, Mercy Memo or Alumnae E-newsletter? Go to our website (mhsmi.org).


Contacting prospective students and their families is much more interactive and, many times, families have done a great deal of “comparison shopping” and know a lot about MHS prior to even stepping through the door of the school itself, often starting with a visit to our website and a web search.


One of the interesting characteristics of this new world is that, quite frequently, it is a two-way means of communication. Become a fan on Mercy High School Farmington Hills Facebook page and alumnae, join the Mercy High School Alumnae Network . We are also able to utilize Twitter (@twitter.com/MercyHighMI) and other features of the blogosphere to add special depth and immediacy to MHS news. And when people decide to support the work of Mercy High School with a gift of cash or appreciated securities, they are able to do so with the push of a button or two via our website.


It is a new world, Golde. No facet of Mercy High School is untouched or unchanged by this technological revolution . . . except for the urgency and the importance of the work we achieve with and for young women. This work was crucial when Catherine McAuley began it in 1824 and is just as vibrantly necessary today – but that’s another blog altogether.


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Screen shot of Mercy High School's Facebook page.

1 comment:

Larry Baker said...

A point that really struck me:

" Contacting prospective students and their families is much more interactive and, many times, families have done a great deal of “comparison shopping” and know a lot about MHS prior to even stepping through the door of the school itself."

Indeed. I have three reactions.

1) I am pleased to see the school "out there" with its own message via a vibrant web site, Facebook page, and Twitter. No one would not want their school to be defined only by the messages of others. And believe me, less positive messages about any school are out there.

2) The medium is the message. What does it say about a contemporary school if it has a dorky web site, or no social media presence? For a 1 to 1 school like ours, it is paramount to communicate publicly that we leverage these tools, not just by saying that we do, but by showing that we do.

3). Schools have a long way to go in recognizing that Web 2.0 is a two-way street. Folks expect to be able to comment on messages, personalize their connections, and contibute to projects. The school which only wants to send-out communication won't have a large, invested audience.

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