Educate Plus SIG

Community Engagement Through Technology | EducatePlus SIG Notes

It was great to see everyone again (and a lot of new faces) at the Educate Plus special interest group meetup today. After my recent family vacation, I’m revitalised and keen to dive back in. I have a heap of cool stuff to share in the coming months.

There were a lot of great ideas and stories shared today from various people about what has worked for them in the past and what they have seen work for other schools.

Here’s a quick rundown of my notes from today and some of the hot points I thought were quite interesting:

  • Niki Dowding from John Paul College shared a great little strategy they have just implemented that worked really well to boost their Facebook page engagement. I didn’t catch the whole story but It had something to do with animal cards. (*Note – I’ll have to interview Niki about that sometime to find out the details)
  • Frustration – Using multiple different software applications within the school to manage student data. Problem being they don’t integrate together or sync the student data and therefore requiring double handling by staff. My thoughts – This is likely always going to be an issue (but I am working on a solution). New software comes out that has great features and does the job better than previous software. My approach is to develop plugins for our upcoming software that sync’s data with the major student management systems.
  • SMS – seemed to work well for reminding users about upcoming reunions or special events. Cuts through the noise and the numerous emails people get.
  • Campaign planning. Using Hootsuite. Angela said she is looking for a new platform. I would suspect most schools aren’t even at this level of social media posting yet. This is still somewhat new in the corporate world. There is a lot of confusion and debate around posting duplicate content and what will actually get your content seen or filtered out. *More to follow about this topic.
  • Boosting Facebook engagement. I shared some details about our campaign for NCC that took “Likes” from 300 up to 800 in a few weeks. *Would you like to know more about this?
  • Quite a big discussion about Printed vs Digital. Which is better. What do Parents prefer. I think the majority of people realise that digital is where it’s at and going, but we explored the value of printed material and the fact that hard copy material can sometimes make more of an impact on a parent.
  • Making print material more engaging. One idea explored was putting links or a QR code in printed material that encourages people to scan it or go to the website to find a special audio/video presentation from the Principal etc.
  • Fundraising ideas – Buying keys on a piano, buying elements in the periodic table, buying seats in the auditorium, buying car park spaces. These are all quirky ways that donors feel they are actually buying something tangible and also contributing.
  • Email Newsletter. John said a strategy working really well for them is a weekly newsletter that contains just a couple lines of text and then bullet points of various events/stories parents might be interested in clicking on to find out more.
  • How to get parents to remember their parent portal username and password. There were a couple different ideas shared here, but my argument was that this is all heading backwards. New technology is all about “Single Sign-On” where users can simply authenticate to services using their Facebook login, Twitter Login, Google login etc. *I will share more about this when we release our upcoming software.

There was quite a lot more discussed in the meeting and I’m sure everyone got a lot of value from attending. I got a ton of ideas and insight into how to make community engagement through technology easier for school marketing executives.

Please let me know if there is anything here you would like to know more about and what you think are some of the big challenges schools are facing with engagement through technology?