The days of using the Internet as merely a one-way supplier of news are over. With social media tools encouraging a back- and-forth exchange of information, parents, alumni, and other stakeholders can participate directly in the life of their school. School districts have figured out the great lesson of the web 2.0 takeover of the last decade: The Internet works much more powerfully as a two-way street than it does when information flows in only one direction. "Today's web is much more than an electronic bulletin board,” says Peggi Munkittrick, senior director of product strategy at State College, PA-based Schoolwires. Peggi's company has developed a website and community management system that integrates a district’s online communication effort via a single, unified platform, using surveys, forms, blogs, and other features to bring a district in closer touch with its constituents. “As web 2.0 technology evolves,” Munkittrick says, “and as social media gets incorporated into more and more websites, a growing number of districts are taking the interactive route.” By taking the interactive route schools are now extending out to a full slate of social media hotspots—pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn—therefore as school districts move forward with amendments, referendums, and similar plans they can use online tools to engage the community and alumni. Although school districts used to simply distribute school news over the Internet, this is a new type of community involvement, and it’s now a standard way of doing business among K-12 districts that want to stay current.
What are your thoughts on using social media and online tools to engage community and alumni?