Social Media

Six Applicable Apps for Superintendents
By Nick Polyak/School Administrator, April 2017

Last September, I had the opportunity to write a column for this magazine’s Social Media section in which I described how superintendents are using applications such as Twitter and Voxer to communicate, connect and learn from each other. In this installment, I highlight a half dozen additional, free applications that can be used by superintendents to make their lives and their jobs easier.

I asked those in my personal learning network using Twitter and Voxer for suggestions. These are the top responses from my friends.

» IFTTT (If This Then That)
. Education leaders easily can feel overwhelmed by all the different social media platforms that exist. They wonder if they should tweet on Twitter, post on Instagram, share on Facebook, blog on Blogger, etc. This app, IFTTT, allows you to create “recipes” that connect different social media tools.

For example, you can connect your accounts so that every time you post a photo on Instagram, it automatically tweets the same message. As you explore IFTTT, you will see limitless examples of how you can automate those connections to give you a more deliberate and organized social media presence. People often think I spend lots of time on social media, when in reality, IFTTT just makes it seem that way.

» Periscope and Facebook Live. Both of these apps allow live streaming of events from your cellphone or tablet device. Whether you are at a graduation ceremony, a school musical, an athletic event or an exciting classroom activity, you can share a live feed to your Twitter followers with Periscope or your Facebook friends with Facebook Live. When you go live on either of these apps, a message is sent out to your connections with a link that will allow them to watch the live feed.

Last year, I used Periscope to livestream a pep rally in our district, and I had more than 1,000 people from across the country watching live. Be mindful of your district policies and permissions regarding the sharing of images and/or video of students.

» Evernote
. Evernote is a digital filing-cabinet application. It’s a searchable place you can store notes, to-do lists, photos, videos, files and more. Many people use programs like IFTTT to automatically store articles, e-mails and photos straight to Evernote so they can find them later. It is a tool to organize your digital life. As a superintendent, I have dozens of different passwords for the systems I use. I maintain a document in Evernote where I store all of that sensitive information.

» Dropbox. If you’ve ever tried to send through e-mail a presentation, a video or a large file, you’ve probably received a message that the file was too large. Dropbox is a solution. It uses cloud storage to create sharable folders for the easy transfer of large files. When I work with our architects, they often use Dropbox to send large image files for our review and feedback.

» Google Apps for Education. This might be cheating, but Google Apps for Education refers to Gmail, Google Docs, Drive, Hangouts, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, YouTube and more. Realize that all of these tools are built on the concepts of collaboration and sharing. Rather than creating documents, spreadsheets or slides and e-mailing them, GAFE allows you to share and collaboratively work on them. The agendas for our administrative meetings are created on Google Docs so every administrator can shape the planned agenda. During the meeting, the Google Doc transforms into a live record of meeting minutes.

» AASA. If you are a member of AASA, you should download the official AASA app. You will find information about the annual conference, blog posts, resources, professional development opportunities, job openings, a directory of members and more. AASA staff have organized all of this in one place so you simply download the app for access. I use this app to read trending news and educational blogs. During the National Conference on Education, it helps me navigate every aspect of the event.

Nick Polyak is superintendent of Leyden School District 212 in Franklin Park, Ill. E-mail: Twitter: @npolyak