Facebook isn’t just for sharing status updates with your friends and family, and cellphones have more power than you may have realized. Find out how you can use today’s digital tools to hook your students and build relationships with their families.

Our favorite musicians, game designers, and celebrities are masters at interacting and engaging with their fans using social media. They know how to grab our interest even though there is stiff competition in the pop culture scene — and in our daily lives — for our time and attention. You can learn from their example by using social media to engage students and their families. If you only engage in one-way communication (think about the note in the backpack and no social media presence), you will be considered outdated and out of touch. On the other hand, when educators use social media to engage students and families, everyone wins! Families feel connected to what is going on in the school, students can better learn using the tools of their world, and schools shine.

Whether or not your students have Internet access away from school, there are many ways to use social media to build, strengthen, and grow relationships and academic achievement among all parties. Here are some ways to put this into practice.

Families with Internet access

It is an unfortunate reality that the digital divide exists. Knowledge is power, and without access to the Internet, students and their families are at a disadvantage. A survey is a great way to determine which families don’t have Internet access. You can point these families toward community resources such as the local library, as well as extending access and hours for the school library. You may also consider connecting families to programs that support access, such as Connect2Compete, an initiative of the Federal Communications Commission that offers millions of families who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program discounted broadband Internet access for $9.95 per month, $150 refurbished notebook or desktop computers, and free digital literacy training. When schools do their best to ensure families have Internet access, there are many ways social media can be used to support students and their families.

With or without us, students are using cellphones for learning…

Help your school shine with YouTube

Your school community is doing great things — innovation fairs, spoken word events, dance performances — but in most cases, when the activity is over, the memories fade. At least, that’s how it used to be. Today, this no longer has to be the case. When we talk about the ABCs in schools today, we have moved from learning the alphabet to “Always Be Capturing.”

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