(inter-) Connected: A Case Study of School-Home Communication in the Age of Social Media

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Gati-Tisi, Samantha
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The advent of social media has, in many ways, changed the way people communicate with one another as it has added a real-time component and multiple platforms from which people can communicate. School districts are not exempt from the evolution of communication into the digital realm. Districts have an obligation to maximize their home-school communication and interactions with stakeholders in positive ways that seek to build rapport and trust with community members. Therefore, this case study sought to understand the ways that stakeholders including school district administrators, Board of Education members, and parents utilized social media to communicate policy and procedures--both formally and informally. Of particular interest, were the types of topics that are raised by parents on social media and how these become manifest as issues that the school district must address. Findings revealed that while the school district had a desire to communicate efficiently and accurately with stakeholders, administrator’s varying levels of comfort and knowledge base regarding effectively utilizing social media meant that it was inconsistently utilized for communication. To ensure social media is used effectively districts must create policies regarding communication within the district and maintain consistency of use across schools and stakeholders. Moreover, findings showed that social media groups promote a sense of belonging and community for users. These spaces give voice to community members who might not otherwise be heard and provide the opportunity for inclusive and meaningful discourse from peers. However, not having policies to explicitly oversee the use of social media as way to communicate with the public leaves implementation up to the discretion of the individual school administrator, which leads to inconsistencies in communication strategy across a school district.