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Book Review                                                    Page 41

 
Why Social Media Matters
  

School Communication in the Digital Age   

by Kitty Porterfield and Meg Carnes, Solution Tree Press, Bloomington, Ind., 2012, 133 pp. with index, $19,95 softcover

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In Why Social Media Matters; School Communication in the Digital Age, authors Kitty Porterfield and Meg Carnes get to their seminal idea in the last chapter. “Writing about social media is like changing the proverbial tire on a moving bus.”

Indeed, in our world of faster-than-light changes in the way we communicate, it seems almost senseless to write a printed work about communicating in the digital age. However, these writers accomplish their goal of educating us about current methods of communication and how school administrators can use these tools to maybe get ahead of the curve in relating to our various stakeholders in K-12 education.

Porterfield and Carnes are co-communication coordinators at AASA and partners in a consulting practice focused on building relationships between schools and community. Both authors have extensive experience in the communication field.

The use of technology, the authors say, is “not about the toys.” Yet most of the changes that continue to occur in how we communicate are about the toys. Whether it is a smartphone, Facebook, Twitter or blogging, these are toys we use to communicate with our stakeholders in some form or fashion.

Regardless of the tool or format, we still try to provide information about our schools, respond to a crisis situation or educate our parents and community about our schools. We explain what happened, why did it happen, what are we going to do about it, who is to blame and how can we be sure it won’t happen again? And we do this at warp speed because as district administrators, we realize stakeholders will learn about what happened in school before we do.

The bottom line is social media helps us to build community and a sense of ownership among our stakeholders. A few bullet points in the book brings our world into focus. “Communication is no longer about you; it’s about your customers.” “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.” “It’s here to stay.”

To tweet or not to tweet is no longer the question but how to use tweeting to our best advantage.

Reviewed by Jim D. Hattabaugh, educational consultant, Fort Smith, Ark. 

 

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