Online marketing in 40 hours a week

I presented at the CASE Indiana conference at Ball State University on November 11, 2011. Below is my presentation – Online marketing in 40 hours a week. I spoke about different ways to manage your time and resources efficiently in order to get the most bang for your buck with online marketing.

I’ll also be speaking at the CASE District V conference in Chicago, December 11-13, 2011. Let me know if you’ll be there. I’d love to meet you!

Are you leaving people behind?

the startLately I’ve had mixed feelings about the way that independent schools are headed with their use of social media. I see some schools that get it. I mean they get it – they’re pushing great content (it’s not all about you, ya know) and they’re engaging with people. But then I see some schools who keep chasing the “next thing.” Continuously chasing after things doesn’t get you anywhere.

If you start out a marathon in a dead sprint, you’re not leaving your competitors behind – you’re leaving your constituents behind. They don’t want to chase after you or follow behind you. They want to jog alongside you and have a leisurely chat as you run down the trail together.

While you’re out ahead of the pack chasing after Foursquare and live streams and Twitter chats and Flickr groups, you’ve left behind a group who’s trying to figure out how to “like” you on Facebook. You can’t expect everyone to follow you on every social media endeavor. And you have to know that before you start the race.

Above all, you need to know the purpose of jumping into a social media channel before you begin to use it. Are you pursuing something because it is useful to your goals right  now? Or because you read a blog somewhere about how it’s going to change the landscape of social media as we know it? First, think about what you want to communicate and then figure out the right tool for the job. If you want prospective families to see your campus in the fall, then share campus photos on Flickr (or Picasa or whatever works for your audience). If you want alumni across the world to see highlights of the state basketball game, share it on YouTube (or Vimeo or whatever works for your audience). If you want to share your school’s stories, set up a blog on your website (or WordPress or whatever works for your audience).

If you find a tool that you think is neat and could provide some value, then you need to ask yourself “should we use it now?” Sometimes a great idea needs to be put to the side. It just may pop up later on down the path when the timing is right for your audience.

photo credit: thelastminute on Flickr

Where do tech tools fall in your school’s academic vision?

Booking a LookHas academic vision been lost? Are we getting too caught up in the possibilities that are flashed at us every day with new technologies? Where’s the line between “ooh this looks cool” and “this looks useful”?

I started my day with a blog post from fellow Hoosier blogger Erik DeckersTools Don’t Make the Expert, Knowledge Does. I’m going to quote the quote that he used from Chris Brogan:

No one ever asked Hemingway which pencils he used to write his books. The tools aren’t the thing. The effort and the content and the promotion and the connection and the networking and the building value are the thing.
(From Chris’ post “Hemingway’s Pencils“)

In the education world, you might say, “The tools aren’t the thing. The learning and the thinking and the knowledge and the understanding are the thing.”

Are we pursuing tools without looking at the bigger picture of our schools’ academic visions? What Chris said is very similar to a core principle of education today – it’s not about teaching kids how to read and write; it’s about teaching them to think critically and solve problems and develop their character.

There has to be a balance between that push for progressive education and the pull for traditional excellence. My school is currently in the process of searching for a new head of school, which has spurred great discussions among our faculty about this tricky balance. On the one hand, as an independent school, we should be leaders in innovative education, but on the other hand, we are deeply rooted in tradition. How do we find our place between these two opposing forces? And where do we see these ideologies taking us into the future?

If we are pushing for innovation, then we need to create balance by pulling back a little and critically evaluating the tools that we are using in schools. It’s not enough to say “I read about another teacher at another school using Twitter in her classroom and it sounded like a good experiment.” You have to know the benefits (and the risks) of each tool that you use. When your students assemble a portfolio at the end of the semester, does it matter if their most thoughtful responses were in a written essay or a blog comment?

Technology tools can be very useful assets in a classroom, but they are merely different ways of looking at the class material and initiating discussions. At the core of education is the idea that we are developing students to think for themselves. Don’t let some flashy tool distract you from that purpose. Keep in mind the bigger picture. Don’t lose sight of the academic vision.

Photo credit: alexanderward12 on Flickr