Columbia Public Schools surveys measure need for social media

Friday, December 3, 2010 | 5:59 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — For the past month, Columbia Public Schools have been conducting a survey to determine the public’s opinions on a variety of topics, including the district's use of new media communications. 

“We don’t currently do social media,” said Michelle Baumstark, communications coordinator for Columbia Public Schools. 

Columbia Public Schools used a phone survey conducted by Kansas-based Patron Insight in addition to an online community survey and a survey for staff members. 

The Columbia School Board approved the cost of the 400-person phone survey, which was not to exceed $14,000, several months ago. Baumstark said the cost is associated with how many calls Patron Insight needs to make to complete the surveys.

The online portion of the survey features the same 26 questions included in the phone survey. These questions measure each respondent's interest in Columbia Public Schools Television, the district's newsletter and the possibility of a district Facebook page and Twitter feed. 

This survey is a part of Columbia Public Schools' five-year Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. According to Baumstark, the survey looks at how the district communicates with those who live within its boundaries. She said the results of the survey may help them decide if social media are something they should embrace and utilize at the district level.

"I think it's a very helpful process in building a stronger school district," said Michele Clark, communications coordinator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Baumstark said the district plans to conduct a similar study each year for the next few years as part of the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. 

The survey closed at 5 p.m. Friday. The results will be tallied and presented to the Columbia School Board at a yet-to-be-determined date. 

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Amy Vandergriff-Belcher December 3, 2010 | 8:30 p.m.

If the individual teachers had FB pages and would post the evenings homework, I'd check it DAILY!! It'd be a super fast and easy way to communicate with teachers on a daily basis. Rather than waiting for them to reply to emails. I know my son's teachers probably get 50 emails per day. Communication has been very easy thus far, but I think FB would be easier and more convenient.

(Report Comment)
Walter Lane December 4, 2010 | 12:41 a.m.

Having a fb page is just lazy. What happened to getting the assignment in class and writing it down? Plus since all the kids have the latest cell phones they would just text each other to find out what the assignment was. I think that writing it down when you got it in class is a lot easier than having to get on facebook in order to get it. I think the kids today are getting more lazy and there's no reason to help them become even more lazy. If they can't write down their assignments when they are given out I don't think having a facebook page is going to offer much help for them. IJS

(Report Comment)
Amy Vandergriff-Belcher December 4, 2010 | 8:57 a.m.

@Walter, it's not a matter of whether my kid knows what the assignment is. He does write it down in his agenda. It's for my (the parent) benefit. If he comes home and doesn't want to do homework, it's pretty easy to say "I don't have any tonight" and just leave the agenda at school. It saves the argument if I could pull up FB and say "Yes you do, you have this. So, let's go back up to school and get it out of your locker." At this point, there's no way for me to see daily assignments on line until a few days later when it's posted as late. Since my son was hit by a car and missed lots of school, and still missing classes with physical therapy, it's been pretty easy to get confused on what's due, what's been done, what's still outstanding, etc. Having it on FB or somewhere really easy like that would seem to make it more organized. Also, with the tutoring they offer after school, it'd be nice to have a quick way to find out if my kid actually showed up for it or if he just left after school.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 4, 2010 | 11:10 a.m.

I agree with Amy. Both of my granddaughters attend(ed) a private high school. The amount of homework assignments posted on the school's website is large and ongoing, and both students and their parents had full access to it.

Also, but password protected, are ongoing teacher's assessments of individual student's progress. These are available to both the student and the student's parents.

As you might surmise, a few students find themselves in hot water - "grounded," even - by their parents; however, for students having problems and trying to improve their grades the posted information is helpful.

Most of the teachers involved will schedule meeting time, as needed, with students and parents.

My older granddaughter was the type who never missed an assignment or a deadline (she's now an honors student in college) whereas my younger granddaughter, who has a physical disability, is struggling to complete high school and has needed all the help she can get.

Other wrinkles: (1) Fail a subject and you are automatically disqualified from sports, band or similar activities for the next semester; (2) You must complete a suite of public/church service hours, approved and audited by the school, in order to graduate. Imagine a public school trying to enforce that requirement!

I went K-12 in public schools in the same city. The school system was then considered a model of what a good public school system should be. It isn't today!

(Report Comment)
Rosellen Downey December 5, 2010 | 2:22 p.m.

I wrote this article. Thank you for the feedback concerning what type of social media you'd like to see from Columbia Public Schools. Did any of you by chance take this survey online or over the phone?

(Report Comment)
Walter Lane December 5, 2010 | 3:01 p.m.

@Amy that is an incident that won't happen to everyone. Yours is a case by itself. Most schools have school pages that aren't fb pages, if homework being posted is such an issue then do it there. But barring some bizarre act there shouldn't be any issues. And if a child gets by with saying there isn't any, then the homework is the least of the parents concerns. Just way too many excuses given to these kids today and that is a large part of the problem. If the school has a page, that should be enough there isn't a need for a fb page. Didn't need a fb page to check my college assignments, the professors had school pages, etc.

(Report Comment)

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