At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, I presented some information to our board of trustees and discussed the importance of “digital footprint”. I was not just speaking about this from the viewpoint of individuals, but also from the idea of schools and organizations building upon their digital footprint. Needless to say, as organization, there was not much out there about our schools and we wanted to focus on building our presence as a “learning organization”.
I have seen many administrators talk about the idea of “branding”, and I understand that in many places this is important when schools may be competing for students more so than we are in our own school division. Our focus was not the idea of “branding” necessarily, but the idea of learning, connecting and showing our work in continuously growing as a learning organization. You may have a principal or a teacher that has a large enough Twitter following that when you do a search for the organization, one of the top results is not necessarily the school, but the person with the enormous web presence. To me, schools are not about one specific individual, but are about our kids and all of our learners.
With that being said, one focus for us was to share the stories of our school division and schools within Parkland and what they are learning through our 184 Days of Learning Project. As I was very purposeful in tagging each post with the school name, it was interesting to do a google search of one of the schools (Muir Lake School):
When looking up the term “Muir Lake School”, the top post shared was the school website, but it was also interesting to see that the blog and twitter account were now also visible as well. It was not only those sites, but it was also posts from the 184 blog that stood out as well. Posts from both teachers and students were showing up in the results and I could not think of a better way to develop the digital footprint of a school; through the voice of students and teachers.
Isn’t this the type of “branding” we want? Organizations spend millions of dollars on their web presence, where our division focused on using open source software this year and web 2.0 sites such as Twitter and Facebook that had a minimal cost to get our community to tell the stories and share the learning of our schools.
The best advocates for schools is always the students. Giving them opportunities to help create your digital identity is a no brainer.