Facebook Proposal

I was just asked to put together a proposal for the Board of Education and the superintendent on why the school should have a presence on Facebook. What do you think? Is there anything you would add or change? Thanks for the help.

Objective: To present a case outlining reasons that Frelinghusen Middle School should maintain a presence on major social networks, primarily Facebook.

Argument: Social networks are incredibly powerful websites that can increase and improve communication with all stakeholders. Facebook is a websites that falls into the category of social networks. Facebook is extremely important to school relations with the community for many reasons.
Facebook has over 500 million users. This means that a very large percent of Morris County residents likely have accounts. Students have accounts to talk to their friends. Parents and community members have accounts to talk to distant family members. Alumni often like to connect with people that they went to school with. Since people are already on Facebook, it is easy for the be updated on important information.

What kind of information will be disseminated on Facebook? While there is the possibliity that some teachers may want to create Facebook pages for their classrooms, the idea here is that the school would have an official Facebook page. Mostly, this would be used for school news, such as updates about events, snow days, game cancellations, and the like. Similarly, it can be used to publicize the work that students are actually doing in the classroom, outside of school, and in extracurricular activities. This serves a dual purpose. First, it promotes self-esteem and confidence among the students by highlighting the good that they are already doing. This often has the effect of making them want to continue to excel. Second, it helps to brand the school. What that means is that by maintaining an online presence outside of our school website and by using that to highlight the types of things that the school finds important and worthwhile, it cements the reputation of Frelinghuysen Middle School, as well as the district that it operates in, as a place with high standards that does all it can to reach students.

The world that students live in is often not the same one that most of their teachers seem to live in. To reach the students, we need to meet them where they are to bring them where we know they need to go. Students are already on social networks; the social network with the largest amount of young people is Facebook. Having this network to connect students with things going on at school will help promote buy-in among the students.
Risks: There are some concerns that some people may have. I hope to address them here.

  1. Bullying: Cyberbullying is a real threat to our students. However, I maintain that by not maintaining a presence online, we do the students a disservice. Many schools look at how the students behave online as beyond their jurisdiction. What would be better, though, is if we taught them how to use the network properly and safely. We need to setup clear expectations about online safety and how students can behave on the Frelinghuysen Middle School Facebook page. Anything said on the Facebook page is no different than something said at school and, thus, falls under the school’s jurisdiction.
    1. If a student acts inappropriately on the school Facebook page, Facebook does provide us with a measure of control. We can remove students from the page (We cannot delete their Facebook account, but we can prevent them from interacting on the Frelinghuysen Middle School Space.) and we can delete anything that they have posted that may be inappropriate in any way. Once those actions are taken, the appropriate consequences can be determined by the school administrators depending on the severity of the student’s action. If we set clear expectations at the beginning of the year, then the likelihood of this happening is very small. Furthermore, what is posted on the page will be monitored by Jason Bedell, the educational technology specialist.
  2. Experimentation: Some people may have concerns that we may be embarking on territory that has yet to be proven effective by other schools. That is simply not the case. New Milford High School is a local New Jersey high school that started a Facebook page at the request of its student council. Eric Sheniger contends that it has made a great impact with his students and has helped him to communicate with all of his stakeholders. You can see the New Milford High School Facebook page as an example here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Milford-NJ/New-Milford-High-School/114382501908040.  Van Meter School District, a revolutionary 1:1 school in Iowa, uses Facebook with the entire district. Shannon M. Miller, the district librarian at Van Meter, even uses Facebook to help connect students with things happening in the library.
  3. Inappropriate Conversation: In the past, in other districts, it has been a concern when students interact on Facebook with teachers. That is not going to be the case here. The Facebook page will be the official page for the school; it is closer to a public relations position than a teacher. Also, everything said on the page will be public and transparent.
  4. Teacher Pages: If a teacher wants to setup a Facebook page for his or her class, it is recommended that the teacher have a separate, professional account just for that reason and only post public, not private, messages.
  5. Privacy: Facebook has terms of service that no one under 13 can use Facebook without a parent’s permission. The school will not advocate that students sign up for Facebook. That is the decision of the parent. However, the school will provide training on cybersafety for all students through its new advisory program.
  • http://edutechintegration.blogspot.com Mike

    Very simple. Don’t just talk about students, include parents in the conversation. There are just as many parents on Facebook as there is students. If you can’t get parents to come to you, you have to go to them.

    You could create groups based on subjects, athletics, clubs, etc. Educational uses are endless.

    If Facebook wanted to make money they would release an education version that works within the social facebook version allowing schools more security options.

    That is my Two Cents.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Einstein at a Chalkboard

  • http://jasontbedell.com Jason Bedell

    Thanks Mike. I was really thinking of how it would interest the students that I hadn’t really thought about the parents. I love the groups idea as well. Thanks.

  • Debra Gottsleben

    Jason I think you have thought this out very well. I think Mike offered some good suggestions. I think this is a great idea so if you need any help as you move forward let me know.

  • http://ilearntechnology.com ktenkely

    This looks really good. I put CHC on Facebook last year, admin was very hesitant but gave me the go ahead. The response has been amazing from parents, students, and alumni. Big success! One of our teachers died this year and we closed school for the next few days. Most parents said they found out about the closure from our Facebook page.
    ktenkely´s last blog post ..JASON Science- Eco Defenders

  • http://jasontbedell.com Jason Bedell

    Kelly,
    While I’m sorry to hear that a teacher passed, I am glad that Facebook helped to connect the school. Thanks for the support.

    Debra,
    Thanks for the help offer. It might be a good thing if we double-teamed when we ask for approval if the high school tries to do the same thing (also have an FMS Twitter account).

  • http://@marybethcrum Mary Beth Crum

    Hi
    I’m a retired teacher from the classroom but now work at the higher education level teaching teachers. I think your proposal looks good and I agree with the “involving the parents and community” statement. I would set the controls so that no cyberbullying could take place. That would be my biggest concern. I would pitch it as the new technology, similar to when ditto machines were replaced by Xerox machines. The argument being, people were afraid that kids would sit on the Xerox machines and take pictures of their butt…however, that never happened and Xerox machines came anyway.

    I would let the Board know that this is the best public relations tool the could ever conceive bettering their community. If you pitch it as a leap into the future, they will see your point.
    Mary Beth

  • http://ourschool.ca Lorna Costantini

    Jason you may be interested to hear how the Toronto District School Board is using social media as a school board, school and classroom. Social Media in Toronto District School Board