Creating a Weekly EdTech Newsletter

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May 29, 2022 by Dr. Robbie Barber

There are many examples of newsletters out there. I did not create a Wakelet or Smore newsletter because I am not trying to provide many issues and links that faculty may or may never click on. I also needed to print a physical copy and those do not lend themselves to a one-pager. While I may read newsletters with lots of links, and often click on those links, I’m generally looking for information to share. Most of my teachers will not click on another link. They need their edtech information cut into small bite-size pieces.

Rather than send another email explaining how to do a task, consider providing a weekly newsletter. It needs to have the following features: directed focus on one idea, lots of images, clear steps, and humor.

Humor? Yes. You are trying to successfully communicate with people. Using the definition from Sanina et al. (2017), successful communication is where a person takes the expected action from another’s communique. For example, if you put out a calendar invite to a meeting and no one shows up, is it a “successful communication”? Probably not. When you communicate with your teachers, you want them to take an action. Just providing the information is usually not enough.

In order to incite action on the main point of the newsletter, I use memes to get people to LOOK AT the newsletter. Remember, just because you provide the information clearly with images does not mean anyone will read it. Period. If they don’t look at it, it’s a wasted effort. In trials I did with various staff members, 100% looked at the meme first and then glanced at the rest.

To template or not to template, that is the question. For me, the answer is to template. I like having a consistent layout where the staff is essentially trained where to focus their eyes on different information. I created one in PowerPoint, but I could have used Google Slides, Canva, or a whole slew of available (free!) technology. One product I tried to teach the students not to use with images is Word. I am going to load the newsletter with images, and PowerPoint is designed to handle images and make them easy to move or resize. Word is designed for words and does not handle images nearly as well.

In late December, the district changed out the teachers’ desktops for a new monitor and a hub to connect their laptops. By early January, I had discovered that many faculty did not know how to set up their monitors using their laptops. This was the most printed newsletter of the year, and I found it taped on the desk of many teachers who needed the reminders.

My template now is certainly different from my first few attempts. And, looking back at 2019, I can see it’s constantly changing still. The newsletter was printed on Monday mornings and put in the staff bathrooms by a dedicated group of volunteers (that I begged). When COVID-19 hit, we were out of the building. I switched to online and sent a group (gasp!) email out every Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. with the newsletter in compressed(!) PDF format. When we returned to the building, several teachers asked me to continue to email them. And, to post them in the staff bathrooms again. Done. Never doubt that communication with your faculty and staff is a function of the quality of relationships in a school (Ärlestig, 2008) 

2019: Tissue Tabloid: Lessons Learned

References:

Ärlestig, H. (2008). Communication between principals and teachers in successful schools. Academic dissertation, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå University, Sweden.

Sanina, A., Balashov, A., Rubtcova, M., & Satinsky, D. M. . (2017). The effectiveness of communication channels in government and business communication. Information Polity: The International Journal of Government & Democracy in the Information Age, 22(4), 251–266. https://doi.org/10.3233/IP-170415

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