Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Power of the Hashtag - Social Media as an Educational Imperative

I fully believe social media is a new school imperative. Yes, social media in school is absolutely necessary, required, and unavoidable

At various time throughout history schools have taken on new technology imperatives. From the slate to the pencil to the mimeograph to the fax machine. Then computers, email... the eternal stream roller that is progress and innovation.

There have always been the new "must haves."

I'm sure with all of those iterations of educational transition there have been naysayers. People who shunned the pencil. Thought the mimeo was a ridiculous expense. Saw no use for a fax machine. Tried to leave computers unplugged. Even email, in 2015, gets the occasional "I don't use that" response from the occasional staff member (yes, not a joke, last year, 2014, as a New York City Department of Education employee I was told by a colleague to communicate via handwritten notes because he "doesn't do email").

With all those, there were highs and lows, but they all led to something greater. The mimeo wasn't the greatest duplication technology but it led to the Xerox. The fax was an amazing breakthrough but has since been surpassed by email, and the internet as a whole. But with any of these there were always detractors. There were always peaks of acceptance, and then dwindling use in favor a the new technology. What was once feared and ignored became part of the integral fabric until it became obsolete at which time it was quickly brushed aside...

As we approach 2016 I fully believe social media, and the hashtag in particular, is the new imperative for schools. We've long had contact information, be it mailing addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and most recently email addresses. We've bene reachable. Would anyone think twice about not publishing contact information for a school? What would the community think if a school didn't have a phone number or email address? It would be absurd.

Social media and the hashtag are the new points-of-contact for schools and communities. Social media should no longer be viewed as a passing fancy or a mindless past-time. Social media is the new calling card, the new contact info, the living brochure, the live-tour from anywhere in the world.

The hashtag gives all members a voice, ensures the school's identity is wholly represented by it's parts. The hashtag gives your school community an single identity that all members know they can contribute too. And contribute to publicly.

Social media and the power of the hashtag is transparency, community, strength, and celebration of awesome. All schools need to embrace social media, and all it's power, and more forward.

This is a presentation I did on the power of social media and a school hashtag for the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center on exactly this topic:

Don't fear social media, embrace it. Make your school's hashtag as powerful a community connection tool as your address, phone number, and PTA meeting schedule. Social media and a hashtag are the new calling cards, the new best-foot-forward.


  1. Thank you, Chris, for writing this. Social media is a must for today's schools and classrooms. I'm so glad my district is getting onboard and has unblocked Twitter and Facebook. If we don't teach our students (especially the young ones) how to be good citizens in today's digital world, who will? I model for my students and connect and collaborate with other classrooms, so they can get lots of practice in a safe environment. They are amazed that I have met so many of the teachers we Skype or Google Hangout with. I love when they say, "Ms. Naugle you know everyone on Twitter."

    1. Agreed! Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment.

      Awesome to hear students recognize the positive aspects of Twitter.