“Skill in communication is a key ingredient for school leaders’ success in today’s complex education environment, and this communication now includes social media.”As these author’s suggest, school leaders “can either learn to use these powerful tools or stand hopelessly by and the information---good and bad---swirls around them.” School administrators are still spending too much time trying to decide whether social media is an enemy or an ally. What they don’t realize, that choice isn’t really up to them. Social media is here to stay. It’s not a fad to be waited out. It’s not gimmick to avoid, and it is not a piece of contraband that can be stopped at the schoolhouse door with policy and Internet filters. Social media is 21st century communications, and school leaders would be guilty of mal-practice not to both learn about its power and place in our modern society.
Portfield and Carnes' book Why Social Media Matters: School Communication in the Digital Age, is an excellent starting point for school leaders to begin the journey or learning about the power of social media. I’ve read several books on social media written for school leaders this year, and this book is the best by far. It is a no-nonsense, easy-to-read manual on social media. I would place it on top of my Ed Tech Book List for 2012.
Why Social Media Matters: School Communication in the Digital Age begins by offering readers, specifically school leaders, a view of social media for what it is, a 21st century form of communication. This is a slightly different perspective from other books I’ve read this year, which have focused on its power in the classroom and in developing professional learning networks. Portfield and Carnes zero in on the very arguments and ideas that interest me as a school level principal:
- Why is social media so important to me as a school leader? Why should I care? What happens if I stay on the social media sidelines? How do I get started and what tools should I start with?
- How can I plan a social media strategy for my school or district? What tools do I need to be engaged in using in my social media campaign? What place do these same tools have in my classrooms and schools?
- How can I make the content of my social media messages effective? What should I communicate through social media? How do I set up a dialogue through social media with my stakeholders? What kinds of guidelines do I need to keep the conversation productive and focused on issues so that I don’t appearing to be censoring honest criticism?