Using social media in school, yes or no?

If you have young kids that are going to school, there is no doubt that the answer you got when asking them about their day or what they have done in school was: “uh, I don’t know” or “nothing”… It’s not very helpful to engage in a discussion and show interest at what they have done.

There is a solution!

My wife is teaching grade one. Last year she decided to start using Seesaw, an app that allows to share the day-to-day life in the classroom with the parents in a similar way that Facebook would.

This video explains the teacher side of how the app works:

On the first day of school, each parents receives a QR Code inviting them to install the app on their mobile device and to connect to their kid’s classroom. Once subscribed, they will receive instant notification each time the teacher post something to the app, whether it be a picture, video, a general or private message etc. The teacher can post to the entire group or has the possibility to tag the kids in a specific picture and, this way, only the parents of these children will see these images, ensuring a little privacy and a cleaner feed.

No more “I don’t know”

All of a sudden, you have a direct view in the classroom of your kid and you can know right away what is happening and what they are working on. No more “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. Instead of asking what they did during the day, you can ask them about the pictures you saw, what was that activity and how did it work.

Teachers also has access to metrics that help them know how parents are interacting. The app provides the amount of posts, like, messages, visits etc. Here’s a screen shot of the weekly stats they get:

Screenshot from seesaw app's weekly stats

Screenshot from Seesaw app’s weekly stats

Here are a few interesting info my wife gave me about how she uses the app:

  1. 100% of the kids in her classroom have at least 1 parent connected to the app.
  2. 100% of the connected parents visit the app at least once a week.
  3. Parents interact and have the ability to like and comment posts, which they do often within minutes of posting.
  4. Read receipt on the messages she sends – something she would not get when sending emails.
  5. A more personalized approach on messaging, more like texting. (Quick, to the point, and less formal)
  6. Seen notification on each pictures/posts.
  7. She uses the app to encourage the kids to put more effort in their work since they will show it to their parents. Often the students themselves are asking for her to post, as they are proud of their work.

While my wife is not selling anything with this app, she is getting a direct access to the parents as well (it works both ways!), and this connection has proven very beneficial. She is getting regular feedback, comments and questions from the parents. While she shares how their kids are doing both academically and behaviourally, the parents feels directly involved and can now challenge their kids on what they did during the day. They have access to what they are studying, but more specifically HOW they do it in class. For example: Parents can work on a specific notion while doing homework with their child and can use the information shared to make sure they do it the same way the teacher do. Some parents have started doing their vocabulary words at home using dry erase pencils in the patio door since they saw on the app that they were doing this in the classroom’s window.

If the school provides devices like tablets, the app allows kids to contribute by posting content themselves, which in turn is curated by the teacher before going live.

On a parent and on a teacher’s side the value added to be using this tool to communicate is incredible. The only negative feedback came from parents who, the following year, had their child is now in a classroom with a teacher who does not use the app!

What do you think? Do you feel this would be a great way to introduce kids to social media in a health way?

facebook Did your kid really do nothing in school today?

twitter What if you had a window in your kid’s classroom?


It all started with Cotton candy grapes. Yes: Cotton. Candy. Grapes. They even have their own hashtag! From Wikipedia: Cotton Candy grapes are a variety of grapes produced in California by Grapery, which became available for consumers to buy in 2011.

These Cotton Candy grapes are from Spain. Photo by me

I didn’t know about them until my wife told me about them a few months ago, but at that time we hadn’t had the chance to get some. They were all gone.

And that’s probably why Costco has them from time to time. They must have done their homework and found that there was hype around them. Or at the very least you figure it out pretty quickly when they fly off the shelf quickly. It’s simply supply and demand.

They are available!!

My wife is on a closed local Facebook Fan group and this morning someone posted that the grapes were available. What followed is an impressive trail of comments and interaction. I found that interesting to witness the power of loyalty and marketing through social media. And that is without Costco having to do anything! Because the post was inside a closed group, Costco probably doesn’t even get stats/metrics on this! Genius.

Screenshot of the post in the closed local Costco facebook group

After a quick research I found out that the grapes had their own hashtag in twitter, many article in Facebook and are easy to find on Google.

Through their team of buyers that does market research, social media team listening and the supply and demand numbers, they must have an incredible amount of data to rely on and determine if they want to bring them back the next year or so. And that, for each individual product!

Obviously not every product has a hype over them, but my question for them would be: “Would Costco pay someone from the public, that brings them tips about a hype in a specific local group, online or offline, allowing them to strategize accordingly?” Like a freelance headhunters would go on to find individuals to fit in specific position in a company for a small commission, maybe? You would become a “Freelance social media listener”. I doubt they would, but maybe we should develop an app for that!

All that to say that after my wife jumped in the wagon, we managed to taste some tonight! They do smell and taste like cotton candy and, both my kids asked to get some in their lunch the next day! Have you tasted them yet?


facebook Did you know that Cotton Candy Grapes existed?

twitter How I found out about #Cottoncandygrapes

COM0015 Blog #5: Event Participation

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in some Google Analytics professional development with several of my colleagues at our campus in Pembroke. Chris McFarlane, the Google Analytics guru from our Ottawa Campus of Algonquin College, made the long trek down the 417 Highway to give us an overview of the features and capabilities of Google Analytics.

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this tool, Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. It’s the most widely used website statistics service. Google Analytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites. It also tracks display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.

We were all very excited about this PD session because we have been making strategic changes to our website recently. With the help of Google Analytics we can track the effectiveness of any changes and reported on.

Source: Google Analytics website

Source: Google Analytics website

Though I knew all the participants in the PD session, it was an opportunity to get to know the facilitator a little better. As you can see from the photo above, our group was small. This allowed us to drive the conversation and exploration to suit our needs specifically – creating custom reports and exploring metrics relevant to us.

I am not shy when it comes to asking questions – I like to get the most out of my professional development opportunities as possible. We all asked a number of questions and contributed to the discussion in let’s say an ‘animated’ way…we get excited about new tools! Chris was very patient and fielded our questions like a pro.

Google Analytics - Pembroke Campus Dashboard screenshot

Google Analytics – Pembroke Campus Dashboard screenshot

During the session, I quickly realized that some additional PD would be beneficial. Google Analytics offers some great free courses and I plan to explore these further in the New Year. As Chris said “this is a powerful tool that takes time and energy to become comfortable with it.”

I wouldn’t think twice about attending a similar event down the road and hope that such an opportunity presents itself again soon.

If you haven’t had the chance to explore Google Analytics, I highly recommend you take the time to check it out!

How And Why Your Business Should Measure The Results Of Your Social Media Campaigns

You wouldn’t invest money in a technology stock on Wall Street without stopping to check how well it was performing. You would also take time to choose which measurements were important to you and why. For example, you should measure percentage gain, dividends returned, performance compared with competitors, etc. This information would help you to decide if you should buy, hold or sell a stock. Measuring your social media campaign requires the same diligence. It is important to know which aspects of your social activities are successful and which need to be changed or dropped. Be aware however, that it may be far more difficult to draw a direct correlation between money spent and income generated. It is difficult to measure Social media results in the traditional ROI sense,  and there may be more appropriate ways to determine whether your campaign is bringing results.

Football soccer goal net

Establish Clear Goals

It is impossible to accurately measure your social media campaign without establishing clear beginning and end points. So begin by establishing a baseline, a snapshot of a specific moment in time to which you can compare your social media results. Furthermore it is vital to determine what you should be measuring. Some information is more valuable to you so ensure that you know what your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are.  Determine whether you should you be looking to improve your number of clicks? Comments? Likes? Sales?

LI and Bernoff state in their book, “Groundswell”  that “Your strategy should be designed from the start to focus on a primary objective, and it is progress toward that objective that you should measure.”  Focus then, on the correct goal or you may find that you do not have the metrics that you require.

For example, if your primary goal is to increase your profit margin, then perhaps that is what you should be measuring, not likes, comments or sales. However it is difficult to accurately measure your social media impact using profit as there are so many factors to take into consideration.  On the other hand, if you understand that improving your social media campaign will eventually have an impact on your bottom line, or if you are working for a non-profit organization, you may be more interested in seeing an increased number of comments which would, in turn, point to increased engagement, a valuable social media commodity.

Study or office stationary

Use Appropriate Metrics Tools

The following tools represent only a few of the better known products available. A quick search of the internet will reveal many others, each with their own characteristics and capabilities. Choose those that best suit your requirements.

Google Analytics is a tremendous free tool  for measuring social media impact. This tool will allow you to accurately determine KPI’s and boost your ability to meet your customers needs  more effectively.

Hootsuite is another tool that provides a wide array of measuring tools to help you determine how effective your social media campaign is. With over 10 million users and an option for a free trial it is a good place to start.

Sproutsocial is similar to Hootsuite in that it provides a comprehensive platform for publishing to your social media accounts, engaging your audience and measuring performance with analytical tools.

Popular Measurements

Most of the tools available can provide an overwhelming amount of data. While this may seem intimidating at first, take time to decide on the data that will actually be useful to you. Some of the more popular measurements to consider are those that deal with the following categories:

Reach – This will allow to measure data including numbers of fans, followers and likes. These numbers will help you to determine if you are growing your audience.

Sentiment – This will allow you to gauge and respond to the positive and negative comments you are attracting on your sites.

Engagement – If you want to know what people are thinking and saying about your organization and its products and services take time to focus on engagement. Examine the number and quality of comments, clicks, video views and anything else that requires your audience to interact with your social media activities.

Sales – Although this may not be easily measurable,  it is useful to understand what social media interaction leads  directly to measurable sales activity.


Measuring your social media performance is a vital part of any campaign and should not be considered an afterthought. Establish your goals, choose your measuring tools and decide which measurements are important for your business or organization. They are important keys to the success of your business.

Comm0015: Blog Post 1: Tools and sources

Mark Zuckerberg must have seen me coming. I don’t know exactly when his plan to become the internet was hatched, but he has definitely succeeded in my household. Facebook is the most accessed site on my computer, with Google a not-so-close second. Facebook is an excellent aggregator of information, whether it be public or personal.Certainly, I use it to lurk former classmates’ pages and boast about my son’s most recent accomplishments, but I also use my news feed to follow actual news. You know, major-world-event, earth-shattering, is-it-ISIS-or-ISIL, real actual news. I like pages from alternative and mainstream media outlets, personal blogs, local organizations and other aggregators. Rather than trek from one website to the next, I can simply scroll through my news feed for a (truly) fair and balanced look at what’s going on in the world beyond George Takei’s latest amazon review.
I use Google in a similar way. When something is happening that I have a particular interest in, such as the current Ebola outbreak or reviews of new TV shows I might want to binge watch, I set up a Google Alert to automatically push the information I want to my inbox.
In terms of listening or trend-watching, I will admit I don’t do much of that on my own time. However, because I am involved in my organization’s social media strategy, I do engage in monitoring on a professional level. I use Facebook Insights to identify different demographics in our target audience and what content most interests each of them. In addition, I follow our competitors and stakeholders on Twitter to see what conversations we should become involved in and to identify potential gaps in our offerings. Finally, I host a biweekly Web quiz on our corporate homepage and provide an analysis of the results to our third-party content providers. This helps them identify whether their messaging is being heard and, more importantly, being understood.