Tag Archive for facebook

Amateur Video On Your School Website

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million. Motion picture and audio better simulate “being there” than a long article or photo gallery. Video may capture the subtle cues of emotional expression and the energy of the moment that help a viewer understand the intangible values of your organization. Now, it is possible to capture video with a small, portable device and transfer it to the web with just a few clicks.

Why isn’t online video more popular on independent school websites? One reason may be the apprehension of some about posting “home videos” on your school website or social network site. Given all the care that we put into our print publications, we may wish to hold videos to the same standard. That would be nice, but It takes many hours (and/or dollars) to create professional-quality video. Perhaps we should hold video to a different standard than written articles. Could a new standard for school website video include amateur content?


In the new web, content has trumped style. YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Twitter have demonstrated the greater value to users of authentic content over quality of presentation. YouTube is the fourth most popular site on the web. The President of the United States addresses the nation via YouTube. Cellphone reports of political unrest and natural disasters run on major network news broadcasts. At times like these, the value of amateur video is the authenticity of the content, not its production quality.

We may apply the same test to school events, even though they may not convey the same impact as mass demonstrations and natural disasters. Take the following video. I shot this at our annual homecoming event, a varsity soccer game attended by alumni and long-time faculty. It may well capture essential aspects of our school better than highly polished writing in a glossy magazine, especially if you studied with these teachers 20 years ago.

Choose to film school events that naturally capture the special qualities of your institution.

Edit as much as time allows

While you may not have the time or expertise to create professional-quality video, you can still produce video of reasonable quality. Depending on how you learn best, you may benefit from attending a beginner’s training for iMovie or Adobe Elements Premiere. Consider using a tripod to stabilize the picture and an external microphone to capture good audio. Develop a basic sense of composition, and timing. Learn to add just enough transition effects that your clips smoothly link together. Cut at least 90% of your original footage, keeping just the very best scenes.

Track your success

Following the progress of your new videos is essential to inform your own publishing choices and convince others that the experiment is working. Social media websites track the number of views of each of your content items. This allows you to track the number of video playbacks, one potential measure of success.

blip stats

If you use Google Analytics on your school website, check out the “time on page” measure. Larger values suggest that more viewers actually watched the video all the way through.

time on page

Determining perceived quality is more difficult. Comments may provide some clue. If hundreds of people view a video and only one person complains about video quality, then you’re probably on the right track.


Start on your social media sites

You may not want to post your first video experiments to your public-facing websites. Facebook and YouTube are chock full of amateur video, so people will expect to see work of lower production quality there. The community pages on your school website may be another good place to start. Yet don’t stop there. Collect data on these first experiments in order to make an informed decision about whether to extend the experiment to the public-facing pages on your main school website.

On perfection

A founding faculty member at a well-regarded school recently retired. In his farewell remarks, he cautioned the community to resist perfectionism.

We are all under the illusion that we can and should be perfect all the time. If we don’t do “excellent” work everyday, then we don’t “measure up” to [our] standards. An awful lot of us impose these unrealistic expectations on our selves, and it’s not healthy. […] Our school culture unduly puts pressures on us to look perfect in the eyes of everyone else. Stop!

Facebook fan page launched

We launched the Catlin Gabel Facebook fan page today. We are launching the tool to provide a strong community discussion space, using a technology that is already common. If it also helps us get the word out about news from campus or attract new applicants to the school, that would be nice too, but that’s not the primary goal. As a result, we decided to launch just a single page for alumni, students, parents, and employees instead of launching a separate page for alumni.

To build momentum, we have asked a number of people to make a deliberate effort to post in the next two weeks, so that visitors see some useful content. We also opened our wall to all fans to post content, in order to amplify the community aspect of the page. Our main web site will remain our main one-way communication portal. Facebook will be for community connections and conversations.

Catlin Gabel on Facebook

Getting close

I have had my head down working on our new school web site for the past few weeks, hence I have not written much here.

We presented new features to focus groups: three faculty, one parent-faculty association, and one board communications advisory group. We hired a local college intern to migrate content from the old site to the new. Two staff members are working on the photo directory, site copying and backup utilities, and an emergency contacts form. Our graphic designer sent us two graphic concepts, and our web site team met and sent back comments. We received the a second revision and are preparing to send back our comments on Monday.

We are gradually taking on real users as we build up the web site. Our athletics director has started entering competition dates for next year. The arts department recently met to build out their new “schoolwide” arts program section. This week, we plan to invite employees to update their emergency contact information through our new custom form. The week after, we will likely invite all parents to update their contact information and review their directory entries online.

Our publications director has been developing her Twitter “voice” and getting to know the Facebook Pages interface in preparation for that aspect of the site launch.

So far, we have committed about $5,000 of contracted work to the project. We plan to finish the project at less than $10,000 total.

Hopefully, I will find time after site launch in July to post more information about our project!

Social Media Tools and School Admissions

I attended the FinalSite social media webinar this morning. They now have a web site to help schools get started with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Here are a few notes of the most interesting examples I picked up from this session.

Northfield Mount Hermon
– 2,000 fans of their main Facebook page
– separate Facebook page for “admitted but not yet enrolled” students

Christchurch School
– Admission inquiry Facebook page

Urban School
– Facebook page for “accepted but not enrolled” students

Could LinkedIn replace our web site career network? I’ll test the idea tonight with our alumni board.

Posting links to Facebook fan pages

I figured out how to reinstate the “post link” tool on our Facebook page. From what I can tell, this application is supposed to be active by default, but it was not on our two new fan pages. Facebook support told me to read the documentation, which only suggests to set the corresponding wall preference — not helpful.

The solution appeared in the Facebook forums. Re-install the application from its page..

We’re going to have to get used to dancing to Facebook’s tune.





Social Media In Education

Thank you to Alex Ragone and Vinnie Vrotny for hosting me on EdTechTalk. Here is the audio recording. As a follow-up to the CASE webinar on social networks and school advancement, we talked Facebook, Twitter, and school communication strategies.

Length: 30:07 minutes (13.82 MB)

Facebook changes fan pages

We just learned about Facebook fan pages, and now they’ve changed them! As we are only just starting to set up our pages, the change probably works to our advantage.

fb notice

As Mashable explains, the new fan pages operate more like a profile than a “shrine.” The organization’s wall dominates the page, and company information is minimized. Most importantly to us, page status updates will now appear in fan’s news feeds. This is critical to us as we adopt Facebook to reach our school community where they are. The new model appears to suit our communication strategy better than the old, where a user would have to remember to go visit our fan page.


We plan to launch the Facebook pages with our new web site this summer. Stay tuned.

Gaming, social networks, and compulsive behavior

We recently held a parent evening with Jerald Block, M.D., psychiatrist and expert on internet addiction. Dr. Block provided the group with a highly data-based analysis of the issues, focusing our attention on real issues that merit our concern and debunking popular, politically-motivated misconceptions about the effects of technology on kids. We had a large turnout for the event, demonstrating parents’ concern and desire to learn more about this field.

Please visit the Catlin Gabel web site to listen to the presentation and view Dr. Block’s slides. (We have permission to post them there.)

Block and parents

Social Networks at Catlin Gabel

The following parent evening presentation includes statistics on social network use in our school and examples of social software in the classroom. I wanted to provide some basics to parents unfamiliar with Facebook, inform the discussion of student use of social networks through data, and keep the focus on teaching and learning.

African connected

Catlin Gabel hosts one exchange student from Maru-a-Pula School in Botswana each year. Yesterday, our new student arrived in the States for the first time, but he had been in touch with his host family for weeks … through Facebook. He also asked where to pick up a SIM card for his phone. This is the first time I have welcomed such a well-connected student from Botswana to the States! Now, if only we could find him a Euro-to-U.S. power adapter …