My school is in the middle of a website redesign, and just this week someone raised the question, “Who is going to manage all of this new content that has to be dynamic?” They’re asking the wrong question — why are we worried about making content dynamic instead of using already dynamic content? It should be obvious that schools should be looking past the safe harbor of official “About” pages and showcasing the real stories that take place behind their walls.
I’ve spent a couple of years trying to get our students invested, outside of school assignments, to embrace self-publishing and there have been some small successes but nothing that has gone mainstream in the school. Faculty are beginning to publish more online, but we definitely lean more towards using Google Sites as a one-way flow of information than blogs to foster a real two-way dialogue — again, it’s not that we’re not moving ahead, but I would have loved to see us already at this promised land of participatory engagement.
We should be urging our communities to think bigger than the classes that are their most immediate audiences. They should be blogging, tweeting, sharing photos on Flickr, joining bigger discussions like EdChat, taking part in unconferences like EdCamp — what’s going on more locally in our classrooms will come out as our teachers and administrators talk abut best practices and relate their own successes with others.
Suddenly we’ll have our dynamic content, as our schools write and get written about, and stories will be told about things that are going on throughout the entire school community. We’ll realize that real engagement doesn’t happen nearly as often on official school viewbooks and static website pages as it does on our tweets, photostreams, and blogs. Why wouldn’t someone be more interested in seeing and reading what our students and faculty are doing than in reading prepared statements about it? It won’t be any one person’s job to write or manage this content, and we’ll instead realize that content curation is where we should turn our energy toward — and we’ll all certainly have enough content to choose from.