User Communication

Categories: Media, Philosophy
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Published on: August 31, 2011

With all the changes in technology occurring every year, even in a relatively small district like mine, there is a lot of information to communicate to users. Sometimes it’s changes on servers or student logins, sometimes it’s broader strokes about planning, and sometimes it’s just general information to supplement staff members’ personal computer usage or class work.

It’s tough to find time to communicate this stuff verbally, though. Teachers have a lot on their plates, and if most districts are like mine, most of the meetings and inservices in the first week deal with district policy, changes on the state level, union meetings, and so forth. Whether we like it or not, these things are often more important to both the teachers and the administration, and some of it is even mandated by law (such as the medical training our teachers sat through).

To get around this, I started putting together a newsletter. I considered video, but it’s tougher to set up properly and tougher to produce. It also requires a definite time commitment from staff members. A clean PDF newsletter, however, can be read on just about any device, or even printed (*shudder*) and read anywhere. It can be read in bits and pieces on their own time, instead of sitting through a video full of dry data or cornball humor.

Clean, of course, is the key. Email is great for a couple of quick sentences, but people lose interest quick if you bury them with information in an email. They skip ahead and pretty soon it’s lost in the flood in their Inbox and they’ve never ready it. A newsletter with an attractive design and which is easy on the eyes feels like a magazine or newspaper and is far more appealing.

That’s where Pages comes in (of course, I’m on a Mac). Apple has provided some great templates for newsletters, and their design is very clean and flexible. I’ve put out two or three newsletters with their templates now, and I’ve posted one here as an example:

RB Tech Newsletter Feb 2011

My administrators were very pleased with this level of communication, and I received several compliments from teachers. I plan to write another soon for the beginning of this school year, now that the flow of help requests has slowed a bit.

If you’re running a tech department, consider adding newsletters to your toolbox. Your users will thank you for it, and it’s well worth the time to put one together.

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