How New Milford High School Uses Social Media
Social media is going back to school, but this time it’s not the students, but the teachers and school administrators that are waking up to its benefits. Slowly but surely, it’s being treated less as a “time-waster” and more as the revolutionary new communication medium it is – one that can change the way education functions.
One prominent example is New Milford High School, New Jersey, which uses a Facebook Page to keep its 1,500 + fans informed about the latest sports events as well as academic achievements.
Student blogging is also encouraged. When students went on a trip to Europe, they were encouraged to blog about their experiences. The blog posts were read extensively and commented on by parents, strangers, and other students.
Even Principal Eric Sheninger has gone from treating social media like a pariah like most school administrators, to becoming an ardent social media advocate. Today he uses Twitter actively to share news on the school (and has 11,000+ followers to boot).
“I used to be the administrator that blocked every social-media site, and now I’m the biggest champion,” Sheninger says. “I’m just someone who is passionate about engaging students and growing professionally, and I’m using these free tools to do it.”
After he decided to launch a Personal Learning Network on Ning, he educated his staff on the power of web 2.0 technology in the classroom. Students had to be instrumental in any effort to transform the culture of our school.
“We had to give up a certain amount of control in order to successfully implement a bring-your-own-device program where students are granted access to the school’s wireless network during the day using their computing devices.”
“We also had to trust they would use their mobile learning devices (i.e. cell phones) responsibly as a tool for learning in certain classes using free programs. The result has been an increase in student engagement, enthusiasm towards learning, and mutual respect amongst students and staff.”His blog was the first runner up in the Best School Administrator Blog category in last year’s EduBlogs Awards.
Google Plus is the latest entrant on the social media horizon. Schools are already planning Educational Circles and Hangouts to integrate it in their learning networks. Social media can serve as a bridge for educators, parents, and children to communicate simultaneously on one plane. Perhaps that is why a recent survey revealed that 61% of K-12 educators are using social media for this purpose.
Once the real life social network of educators recognize the importance of social media, it is easy for administrators like Sheninger to involve teachers, parents, and students in redefining communication and education.