Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

District considers a Facebook page.

At the last Board of Ed meeting on February 7, we spoke a bit about the District creating a Facebook page. It's something we've been discussing in the Communications Committee and I've personally been advocating for it for over a year. We brought it up at the BOE meeting to just let the community know we're thinking about it. So far, the response has been very positive. I've heard from several people who think it's a great idea to get information out to the community -- as well as offering the potential for comments and/or questions from community members.

The Ridgewood News featured an op-ed piece supporting the idea of a Facebook page for Ridgewood Public Schools.

Many, many Ridgewood residents are on Facebook, with a large percentage of them interacting with Facebook in some way, several times each day. Having a page for the District just gives us one more way to communicate with people where they are...in a way that they may choose to communicate. The viral nature of Facebook allows us to spread information in an organic and easy fashion -- friend to friend to friend.

The intention would be for the Facebook page to augment our other communications channels, including the District website, eNews, the press and the occasional District "Newsline." The page could feature announcements of upcoming school events, reminders, snow day announcements, photos from construction projects, links to interesting stories about education or teaching, and links to news about legislation impacting schools.

The main concern expressed at the meeting last week was in establishing responsibility for the page. Our administrative staff is already stretched thin...does updating and monitoring a Facebook page add too much? Personally, I know from my own Facebook use that it shouldn't take but a few minutes each day. But we don't know for sure, and it is smart to think it through before we start down some path we can't sustain.

The idea of adding the Facebook page is somewhat of a big deal...and yet not really a big deal. It's just one more communication tool. But it does represent the District working to engage with the community on the community's terms. It also helps us model good digital citizenship for our students and their parents.

We'll continue discussing the Facebook page in the coming weeks and I'll post an update here (and on Facebook!) when there's news to report.


Anonymous said...

For communicating TO the parents, things such as school closings, I can see it would be fast to update.

For comments from the community, are you sure you want to go this route? There are strong opinion about many issues- lights, sports fields, math curriculum, particular teachers, etc. Is Facebook really a good forum for these? Will there be any censorship?

Laurie said...

Well, that is one of the areas that is causing some discussion. If we invite people to speak, we have to be ready to hear what they have to say, and have a protocol for responding, if necessary.

I look at the Facebook "conversation" as any other public conversation. When I attend an HSA meeting, for example, there may be some people who raise their hands and ask questions or who give their opinions. If the question can be answered easily on the spot, I answer it. If I don't have the information or if the question is about a specific situation, I may suggest that the person speak with me one-on-one or I may direct them to Dr. Fishbein. If the person just wants to give their opinion or criticism, I take it and promise to pass it along to the appropriate person. I would expect the Facebook "conversations" to be similar.

I think the non-anonymous nature of Facebook eliminates some of the nastiness, snarkiness and personal attacks that one can sometimes see on the blogs. People tend to be more civil when their name and face must accompany their comments.

To your question, is Facebook a "good forum" for these opinions? I don't think I would ever recommend it as the primary or best forum, but, again, the point is a shift in focus, allowing the "customer" (in our case, the community) to communicate on THEIR terms. It's something we're seeing companies do more and more. Hence, Facebook pages for Tide detergent or Gevalia coffee. Most of the comments on those pages are "gee, I love your laundry soap!" but sometimes an unhappy customer posts. The company then has the responsibility to channel that feedback to the appropriate responder.

It's an increase in transparency that people are demanding.

Will there be any censorship? I would hope not! That being said, if there were attacks on particular teachers or comments about students, those would have to be removed.

These are the issues that we are working through as we decide how to proceed. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

I see you are way ahead of me and have been considering the things I was concerned about. Regarding censorship....comments on particular teachers or students was exactly my concern.
Thank you for your thoughtful response.