September 18, 2014

Should Teachers and Students be 'Friends'?

I spoke with a reporter from with the Today Show web site last week regarding social media guidelines for schools. Her article Social media boundaries: should teachers and students be 'friends'? just hit the interwebs.

What do you think? How should schools and young people interact on social networks? Let me know in the comments!

September 16, 2014

This is too much fun to actually call work.

Here is how I spent my afternoon yesterday. Despite nearly crashing trying to take off in some deep grass and causing a minor disturbance in a classroom by flying outside the building it was a very successful day. For the record I didn't damage any propellers and I wasn't looking in the windows!

September 11, 2014

A Question, an Experiment, and a Suggestion

Photo Credit

Imagine your new view book arrives on campus. You open the first of dozens of boxes and find a slight printing error: in a quarter of the view books the print is very very small. Everything else is fine, in fact if you hold the view book up to your face you can read it perfectly. Here's the question:

How many of those view books do you mail to prospective families?

You probably wouldn't mail any of those view books. You would probably send them back to the printer with an angry note. But your web site might look exactly like those misprinted view books right now! Text could be hard to read, photos might not load properly, and menus could be nearly impossible to select. Don't worry, you haven't been the victim of a hacker attack, your site just hasn't kept up with how people go online.

Increasingly people go online on their phones or tablets. For one of my clients in an urban area the percentage of web traffic from mobile devices including tablets is 40%!

Here is an experiment everyone in communications or admissions should try:

Go to your website on a phone or tablet.

How does your site look? Are you delighted? Are your marketing messages still loud and clear? Is anything broken? Can you find the admission menu? Your site might not look quite right because web designers face a massive number and variety of different screen sizes, operating systems, and devices. Previous solutions to this problem included:
  • Specific apps for specific platforms - it's hard to keep up with the number of platforms, and what casual site visitor is going to go the app store to download something just to see your site?
  • Mobile versions of the site - these work well for people already familiar with your community and who just need quick directions or logistical information but they are usually devoid of marketing messages important for admission.
  • Ignoring the problem - this could work well for a little while longer, but with up to 40% of your site visitors seeing something that is at best annoying and at worst broken can we afford to wait much longer?
The good news is there is an emerging web standard to address this problem! It's called Responsive Web Design or RWD. Essentially what this means is websites can be designed to be device agnostic. The site notices the size of the screen and automatically adjusts to fit the real estate available.

Check out Whipplehill's cool infographic on RWD below and the original post here.
Click to view full size.

You probably wouldn't throw out all your view books if a few were misprinted but you might work quickly to resolve the issue as you carefully used the correctly printed pieces first. Would you wait a whole admission cycle? Probably not, and I don't recommend school sites wait much longer to move to Responsive Web Design either.

 What do you think? Are you worried about how your site looks on mobile devices? How much traffic do you see to your site from phones? Let us know in the comments!

September 10, 2014

First Day of Quadcopter Videography

On the same day this guy crashed his drone into a beautiful national treasure I got my quadcopter in the mail! I've been looking forward to getting one of these since I saw one at the Whipplehill user conference back in the summer.

After nearly crashing it into the house I kind of sort of got the hang of it. Out of the box the DJI Phantom Vision 2+ is really easy to fly. Everything you need is in the box (down to the AA batteries) and the quick start instructions allowed me to... well get a quick start!

So far my only gripe is I'm used to pushing the left stick forward to go down but that tells the quadcopter to go up. Maybe I can change that in the settings?

I had heard that photos take a long time to process but I didn't find that to be a big problem Here is one that I took of the house.

I can definitely see how you could get in trouble with one of these: it's surprisingly easy to get started and a thrill to fly. I will certainly exercise some judgement when it comes to choosing where and when to fly.

What do you think? Should more schools and non-profits use aerial videography? Have a question about how it works? Want to connect to go flying? Let me know in the comments!

September 9, 2014

Don't miss a 'Conversation with Dan'

I'm having a great time creating weekly content talking with my friend Dan. In case you've missed it every Friday I have a video 'conversation' with Dan talking about education, iPad, video or whatever else is interesting to me that week. I try to incorporate viewer suggestions and questions into my conversations as well.

In case you missed any of the past episodes I've built a new section of the web site to collect all the goodness. Check it out here!

What do you think I should talk about this week? Let me know in the comments!

September 1, 2014

How to Create 'Notebooks' and 'Dividers' in Notability

How do you like to organize your notes? Let me know in the comments and I'll share your tips on my next 'Conversations With Dan!'

Conversation With Dan (Episode 2)

In which we talk about the poetry activity and not one but TWO big announcements!

August 22, 2014

New Video Series: Conversations With Dan

One of the things I miss most about not being at a school is the fantastic conversations I would have with my good friend Dan Love. Often we would steal a few minutes over a cup of coffee and discuss not what was urgent... but rather what we found important.

So with that in mind I'm launching a new video series today in which I have a weekly 'conversation' with Dan about education, media, life and... whatever else might be interesting that week!

Here is the first in what I hope will be a weekly Conversation With Dan - I hope you enjoy!

I hope you will join us in this conversation and let us know if you have questions, ideas, articles, videos or thoughts. I'll try to work in as many of your thoughts into our conversations, just send me an email or leave a comment below!

August 7, 2014

ISANNE Video / Social Media Intensive

They're Here! Participants Arrive for Video / Social Media Intensive

At first I was totally stressed by the huge turn out at the ISANNE video / social media intensive workshop I recently led. So many people had signed up from so many schools and a variety of different positions I wasn't sure how to proceed. How to craft a message that would be relevant to so many different people?

In the end I decided to take a deep breath and trust in what I believe: telling stories is a compelling way to market independent schools and video / social media are great tools for telling stories.

In the end the day was a huge success thanks to ISANNE brilliantly organizing the logistics, the lovely setting on the campus of New Hampton School and the willing participants who jumped into the hands-on sessions with energy!

Here are a few things I learned from the day:
  • There is a huge need in the independent school marketing community to figure out best practices around video / social media
  • There is a significant capacity within our community of things we've tried and got right
  • Video isn't as hard as folks thought it was (we even made some video in about 1.5 hours!)
  • Social media has matured overall, but there are still new tools emerging that may or may not be important for us (Facebook most everyone is using... Pinterest inspired a lively debate)
Here are some of the videos we made together!

If you attended the workshop what did you take away from the sessions? If you couldn't make it what are your needs around video / social media? Let us know in the comments!

July 14, 2014

What I Learned From Facilitating an Open Space Session

Here's something I've noticed about my students: If I decide where the class will go my students will follow. If I offer choice to my students then they will lead.

Facilitating an Open Space (un-conference) session is one of the most deeply frightening and satisfying things I've done. It requires two things that every teacher / facilitator / conference organizer should be willing to do, but often isn't:

  • Total faith in participants / students
  • Willingness to get out of the way and let the magic happen
After a frightening moment (probably only 4 seconds long, but much longer in my mind) when I thought the sessions would only half fill the WhippleHill Open Space session was a complete success thanks to the passionate, creative, and dynamic participants.

If you are interested in finding out more about open space sessions check out these resources and also watch this great video from Mark Christensen over at the WhippleHill blog. Or if you have a question about open space please let me know in the comments below!