This fall my school district began a pilot project with six other districts across Oregon. Eighty educators are participating, from urban and rural schools scattered across southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley to the Blue Mountains, Portland and the north coast.
Grant funding covers travel costs to meet once a month, but how can we keep continuous, two-way communication flowing as participants need to share research, planning and data?
My suggestion was to launch a Facebook group. This gives our collaborative the option of a closed group, allowing for free-flowing, large-group private conversations about our ongoing work, which may differ significantly from place to place.
The advantages are many:
• No email log-jam: Rather than flooding the inboxes of 80 people with a stream of reply-all emails, Facebook groups provide access in a non-intrusive way that makes it easy to scroll down through conversation threads.
• Casual conversations are creative: As an informal communication tool, Facebook frees group members to brainstorm and converse more freely than they would in Google Docs or Dropbox. In a groundbreaking project, the creative thinking and innovation this generates are keys to success.
• Continuous communication: With the moderator’s strategic use of “What-if” questions and weekly reports from each partner group, the long-distance collaborative project builds energy and momentum day-to-day, rather than drifting off the priorities list between monthly meetings.
Whether your group project is spread across a large school district, across an entire state or across multiple states, Facebook groups are an important tool to move your project forward through two-way, continuous communication.