Documenting and Sharing Your Story
Once you get going, sharing the story of what your group does has several benefits.
First, kids get a kick out of seeing how many Youtube views you can get. Second, it helps you to get in touch with a variety of people who you wouldn't be connected to otherwise, which opens doors for more opportunities. Third, publicizing your Linux club brings in more support and donations from outside your school. Finally, sharing your story brings your school positive publicity, and school administrators love that.
Some of the things we have done to tell the world our story are:
- Stories in local news media We contacted local television and print media about our kids using Linux to recycle computers for needy families, and some of them were interested enough to run stories about us.
This is a story that ran on KARE 11 TV News in May 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNvlbEJ-21.
This article was published by the St. Paul Pioneer Press in March 2016: http://www.twincities.com/2016/03/16/st-paul-hmong-charter-school-reprogram-computers-with-linux-software/
- Youtube We started to shoot our own videos to upload to our own Youtube channel, Asian Penguins. The channel took on a life of its own, and now has over 70 uploaded videos. Our videos, put together, have gotten over 19,000 views and have been seen in all 50 states and in over 100 countries.
Here is our first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDYt8BbqTQo
- Stories in online tech media. I was asked to write some articles about the Asian Penguins for a few different websites: Linux.com, Opensource.com, and Edtechdigest.com. All of these articles received a favorable response.
This article was the first one, and ran on Opensource.com (March 2015) as part of a series about open source in education: http://opensource.com/education/15/3/asian-penguins-Linux-middle-school-club.
- Social media Chances are your school has social media accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and probably a few other networks. If you give your school’s communications person news and photos of your Linux club, it will give this person content to distribute and get positive publicity for your school. Everybody wins. Please note: your school probably has rules about how and when staff can post things regarding school activities to their personal social media accounts. Make sure you know what those rules are.
- A brochure Early on, we decided it would be a good idea to create a brochure to give to people with brief information, photos, and contact information.
Here’s a pdf of ours: Asian Penguins Brochure (English Version)
One suggestion about brochures is to print them in the different languages used at your school. The above is for the English version of the brochure, but we also have it in both Hmong and Karenni.
- T-shirts T-shirts are not only a way to raise funds for your club. They are also “walking billboards” which advertise your club.
- Stickers Yes, really. Stickers! Kids love stickers and some stickers with your club’s name and logo on them will take your club’s image to places you may not get to.
- A website We started a website to make sure we had a place that had the latest news about the club, as well as a place to document what we were doing for the future. To date, our site has gotten over 5,000 hits.
Here is the link to our website: http://www.asianpenguins.org
- A podcast We thought it would be fun to have our students record a podcast. A couple of club members became our hosts and interviewed teachers and students. The app we used was Audacity.
Here is a link to one episode: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B42SghsdxOm-Vm1rX2JqTVVySXM
- Educational and technology conferences Over the past three years, the Asian Penguins have had the opportunity to attend conferences for teachers and lead workshops to tell our story in person. This is a great way to network with other educational professionals. This also gives your students the opportunity to apply leadership and practice public speaking skills, as they will be doing most of the talking. Your state likely has such conferences, and as such, offers these opportunities. An example of this is the Minnesota Educator Academy, an annual event hosted by Education Minnesota.
From the program, here is our workshop from October 2016: https://event.crowdcompass.com/mea2016/activity/jKQ9uzRiEH
Here is something to keep in mind when doing anything with media: For liability purposes, you MUST have a media release form for each kid in your club, so that you can use photos and video of them. Many schools handle a media release form for students as part of the enrollment process. But in the Asian Penguins, just to be sure, we made a point of having our own.
Also, if at all possible, get the kids involved in putting together the material you put online. This way, they have a greater ownership of the whole project, and you have less work to do.
© 2017 Stuart Keroff. All rights reserved.