2014 Social Media

Social Media Article Loreto Normanhurst


Mark Pesce in his uLearn Presentation in Rotorua New Zealand  October 2013 ‘The sharing nexus: connecting, learning  and 21st century educational environment’  he suggests digital natives are now sharing natives they get connectivity is the way they can share and access information and people.

Educators understand that learning is not a solo journey, though do schools as an institution completely understand this.  In the same way our students share to enhance their learning so to can schools share to enhance what they do for their community.   What follows is a snapshot of Loreto Normanhurst’s  social media platform journey which started in 2009. 

According to the New Media Consortium,   ““Social media is changing the way people interact, present ideas and information and communicate”.     One billion people use Facebook regularly and with other social media platforms these numbers are expanded to one third of the people on the planet. The fact that these individuals and groups of people are using social media suggested there is effectiveness in using it.  How effective is it for your school? We decided to think about this question in 2009 and launched a social media platform in 2011.

Mark Pesce also suggests four steps – connect, share, learn and do which is one approach.  However, at Loreto Normnahurst we started with the doing, learnt as much as we could about social media an then  then the sharing and connecting logically followed. 


Our catalysis for thinking was a conscious decision to use social media as an educative tool for students, staff and parents.  Initially the provision of first iPads for the school in 2009 and the change over from Blackberry to iPhones for the school Leadership Team for the Principal, Deputy Principal, Principal Executive Assistant, Director of ICT and Dean of Learning Technologies started the process of engagement. In the process of exploring Apps we encouraged each other to explore the potential of social media through the iPhone and the iPad.  The launch ‘happened’ through video of a key school event – Loreto Day 2011.  The first post, linked to the Newsletter , was an immediate success for the whole school community. With this success came more questions and refinement in areas of explaining our vision, privacy, copyright, moderation, hashtags, the use of photos and videos and  reposting to other platforms.

The door was open and we had to step by step keep moving forward.  Current parents loved the window into what happened on Loreto Day, past students reminisced about their Loreto Days and we started an every growing trend of students trying to get posts about them, their work and activities on our social media platforms.  Which by the way include Twitter, Facebook,  Instagram, Linked In, Vimeo, Youtube and Four Square most with the name @loretnh.      

Our on going decision making was an interesting process.  We were planning for something that we did not know what would look like. In the Harvard Business review article (2013) the  ‘Deciding how to decide: a toolkit for executives making high risk strategic bets’,   provides some insights to our approach. This article outlines the right tools in developing a decision profile to help determine what to do to succeed and predicting a range of outcomes.  Social media ticks the boxes of the section on complicating factors – executives don’t know what they don’t know, cognitive bias creeps in and organisational processes get in the way.

We worked diligently at learning about what we did not know.   It was relatively simple to create our individual accounts though it was more difficult to claim names for school based accounts and sub accounts.  This involved a deliberate planning process of generating emails,  selecting username and second tier usernames if our first preference was not available.    Then there was the planning for potential scalability @loretonh is our main account and we have sub accounts which are generic such as @loretoprincipal, @loretodeputy @loretolearning,@loretopastoral and then house and faculty accounts. 


In terms of cognitive bias we had to work hard at relying on past well used and successful ways of doing things.  For example, we were conscious of the need for policies and guidelines though there was limit to nil crowd sourced support on this front.  In fact one of the NSW educational governing institutions contacted the school for our policies and guidelines.  We would attend copyright workshops  through the copyright agency and ask questions about social media and they could not be answered and the following years there were specific course made available.

So by necessity the school’s social media platform evolved by necessity through doing.  By have a core group of people  we were able to manage all the planned and unexpected outcomes.    

Our existing organizational processes did not get in the way though they did need to be massaged.  IN grappling with the question of how social media  adds value to the existing tried and tested Newsletter opened up discussing on  how better to communicate and how better to reach a wider audience and  specifically how social media woud open up a two way communication process.  At this stage we were not ready for the shared and tacit intelligence  that would develop over three years of implementation

 We had started a journey  which  reflects  what the New Media Consortium , the author of the Horizon Reports, suggests are the key areas to investigate in social media:  collaborative environments, collective intelligence, crowd funding crowd souring, digital identity, social networking and tacit intelligence.