Magazine article Momentum

Marketing Catholic Schools Using Technology

Magazine article Momentum

Marketing Catholic Schools Using Technology

Article excerpt

One day recently the Internet went down in my office. To me this was a crisis. No contact with the "outside" world, no emails to check, no idea of what was going on around me. Thankfully my iPhone was handy and, though not easy to check my work email, it was possible.

I am part of a generation that relies heavily on technology. I am by no means the severest case among my peer group, but to me technology is an essential part of my everyday life. My family life is organized by Google Calendar and it is synced with my work calendar. My Christmas card list is a click away. 1 Facebook, I "tweet," I have Wikipedia bookmarked to look for answers. I can transmit my food shopping list to my husband with an "app" and I can use my Map feature to navigate.

Our boys are four and two years old and to them this is all normal, and of course it would be. This is the world they are inheriting. Learning in the 21st century is, and will continue to be, infused with information driven by technology. My two-year-old sees my computer and asks to look at pictures - once something I would do with my mom and a photo album. Now we browse on a laptop. These same pictures I upload to Facebook to share with family members across the country and to catch up with friends living overseas. After a recent family outing, my fouryear-old asked if a cousin had seen his pictures on Facebook. I remember asking my husband if we even knew what computers were at four years old.

Rethinking the Job

It was these same conversations that led to a complete re-thinking of how I do my job. I am the director of admissions for a Montessori preschool and Catholic elementary school. Frustrated by the amounts of money spent on advertising, I looked for a new way to attract families and looked no further than my own living room. Technology, I realized, was driving my life. As a parent of a child the age of those entering my schools, it made sense to go where the parents are - online.

It was a big jump and leap of faith to do something new but, like our students, we as administrators in Catholic schools need to be ready to embrace the culture of our students and families and find ways of sharing the "good news" about Catholic education. And having a bit of data to back up these decisions never hurt either. I spent time researching our current families, especially our elementary school parents, traditionally slightly older than our preschool parents, to get a better idea of where my idea would go.

Embracing New Ways

My research led me to realize a few things about our current parents and technology. Like my family, many were embracing new ways of gaining information and realized the importance of technology in their children's learning.

For example, last year a parent-driven campaign led to the purchase of more than a dozen new SMART boards for our classrooms. These interactive white boards are exactly what learners for the 21st century need: presentation of information in an interactive, hands-on, multi-disciplinary approach. Parents came to information sessions to learn more and raised the funds to equip our upper-evel classrooms and our computer lab.

Our schools also began moving away from paper notices home and to "e-news," weekly or biweekly emails updating families. …

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