While at a state art education conference this winter, I heard a wise local art teacher speak about his migration from a classroom website to a Facebook page. After years of struggling to maintain a current and useful classroom website, this advice was music to my ears. In fact, I have given up on my website. Instead of trying to sporadically update a site that parents never visit, I am focusing my efforts on Facebook. Here is why…
1. Facebook is a passive news source, and people love being passive.
Interested parents may check a classroom website or blog once a week, but that requires active interest… which is sometimes difficult to muster up. Most parents are already on Facebook several times a day, checking friends’ statuses and getting their news. When you update your classroom Facebook page with a post or a picture, it automatically pops into their news feed and they are much more likely to read the caption than if it had required a special trip to your site. Moving your classroom content updates to Facebook means people will view your information daily, as opposed to weekly or even more infrequently. Hey, you may have even linked into THIS article from Facebook!
2. It is faster and easier for you to maintain a classroom Facebook page.
Each time I updated my classroom website, it was agonizingly slow. I spent entirely too long writing content and making graphic design decisions that were probably only appreciated by a handful of people.
Conversely, updating my classroom Facebook page takes literally two minutes a day. I use my phone to snap a picture of a project during class. I write a brief sentence about what we are learning (because Facebook posts are short, compared to a website), and I upload the update. Before, having a web presence took hours, now it is part of the natural rhythm of my day.
3. Facebook group pages offer detailed analytics.
So much of educational assessment is data driven, and it can be really difficult to quickly capture data about an art program. However, Facebook offers instantaneous and in-depth analytics about page traffic. If an administrator wants data to support a professional growth goal related to community engagement, Facebook can provide this. You can easily measure how many people view each type of post, whether it is a link, text, or a photo. Even better, you can track how these numbers change over time.
Although I have only been using a classroom Facebook page for a couple months, I have already learned a few helpful hints and tricks…
- Double check with your district before starting, to ensure you have accurate knowledge about their current social media policies.
- When you open your classroom Facebook page, separate it from your personal account, so you remain professional.
- Take photos of artwork and materials, not kids. You never know whose parents would prefer they don’t have an internet presence.
- Promote your page through existing school pages. Ask your principal and PTO to mention your new page on their social media platforms so parents can find you faster.
- If you will be using your phone, have a conversation with your administration. You don’t want them to walk in and assume the worst – that you are surfing Amazon in the middle of class!
And finally, don’t really give up on your classroom website; just shift its focus! A classroom website is still an invaluable tool for sharing an in-depth rationale of your curriculum and your educational philosophy. When someone in the community wants substantial information about your program, you will still want to be able to direct them to your site. Streamline the general information on your site and plan to tweak it for accuracy on a semester basis. Then, save those daily and weekly updates for Facebook, where they will consistently be seen!
How do you use social media to promote your classroom?
What platforms have you found most effective for reaching your community?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.