Communication strategies address both the operation of district's programs and public relations activities to raise awareness about district's technology-related activities in the community. The following strategies address communication related to the district's technology activities. The network communication and information sharing strategies can be used by the district for other school programs and activities.
Network Communications and Information Sharing Strategies
Network technologies offer tremendous opportunities for communication and information sharing. This communication is multi-directional, involving the district education community and the larger regional, state, national, and international community and involving other education stakeholders within the local community and beyond.
The district's web site can provide access to a wide range of information about the district's technology activities, including:
District technology planning and implementation information -- Reports, and plans, acceptable use policy information, technology committee meeting announcements and minutes, etc. The web site can also be used as the vehicle to solicit information or assessment data necessary for assessing the progress of the district's technology activities.
Network/Equipment Operations and Support Services -- Online equipment troubleshooting guides, information on emerging technologies, etc.
Training and Professional Development -- Notices of upcoming classes and workshops, information about collaborative online activities, links to curriculum related sites, links to other resources for educators, teacher-mentor contact information, links to professional development organizations, etc.
Discussion Group Contact Information -- Information about district, regional, state, and international online discussion groups that address various aspects to education and the use of technology in education, including information on how to become involved with these discussion groups.
Online Discussion Groups
Electronic discussion groups (mailing lists and conferencing) provide the ability for groups of people to communicate with each other. Mailing lists establish an electronic list of e-mail addresses of the participants on a mailing list server. When a participant sends a message to the mailing list address, the message is transmitted by the mailing list server to all of the participants on the list. Mailing lists provide a very efficient and effective way for people to be informed about issues and to ask questions and receive feedback. There are many international mailing lists related to educational issues. Districts can also establish district-level mailing lists.
Conferencing systems provide a "virtual location" for people to join in electronic discussions. Conferencing software allows for the development of discussion threads -- ongoing dialogue related to a specific topic. Currently, conferencing technology is not widely used in education, but will likely become a integral component of school operations in the future. Businesses and government agencies are expanding their use of conferencing technology.
The district can use electronic discussion groups to coordinate the activities of the technology planning and implementation committees. Additionally discussion groups will be created to facilitate communication for various educator interest groups. For example, discussion groups could be established for administrators, for middle school math teachers, for regional special education teachers, etc. As discussed above, the district web site can provide a directory of the district discussion groups with information about how to join a group.
The district may want to periodically publish print materials to be disseminated to educators in the district, informing them about developments and opportunities related to technology and upcoming training, professional, development, or collaborative instructional projects. Ultimately, such dissemination will be done electronically, but as technology is being introduced into the mainstream educational community, it will be important to communicate with educators who are not yet comfortable with electronic communication in a form that they are comfortable with.
Highlighting the activities of innovative district educators through special projects reports in these printed publications can generate interest. This is also a good way to publicly acknowledge the innovative efforts of teachers who are effectively using technology.
External Public Relations
The primary purpose of external public relations activities is to foster public understanding and support for the district's technology efforts and the expanded use of technologies for education. This communication will assist in preparing the community for the changes that are necessary in the schools to facilitate the use of technology and that will occur through the use of technology.
The following are strategies for effective communication that can be utilized:
Take advantage of every public relations opportunity -- a new lab, an innovative project, student accomplishment. Develop press releases to disseminate to the media about these opportunities and invite the television news stations into the schools to video-tape students engaged in exciting activities using technology. Provide information about these projects to district public relations personnel so that the information can be incorporated into district publications, especially those sent to parents.
Hold regular outreach activities, such as open houses, ribbon cutting ceremonies for the opening of new labs, special events to celebrate the completion of special technology-related projects. An annual spring-time technology "expo" will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase student technology-related projects.
Prepare a basic 30 minute presentation for business and civic club meetings to promote district technology activities. This presentation should highlight innovative local student projects and also make a connection to the importance of technology literacy for the future economic stability of the community.
Prepare a brochure about the district's technology activities to be distributed at public relation events and meetings.
Incorporate both factual and statistical information in materials, presentations, and press releases. Some people are motivated by stories and pictures of children doing exciting new things. Others want the facts and figures.