In the Spotlight

New video program will highlight schools' stories, activities

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In the Spotlight

Rachel Boone and Delilah Rivera, Staff Reporters

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Teenagers often turn to videos and social media to get their news, whether it be local or international, and Round Rock ISD has taken notice. The district is planning to modernize its way of communicating with students, faculty, and parents after using more traditional ways of getting news out for so long. Recently, a videographer was hired in order to make this happen.

“[When I first saw the job posting],” Roby Brown, Manager of Video Services said, “I didn’t realize that school districts had video positions. I just didn’t know it really existed.”

RRISD currently has Facebook, Twitter, Google+, SchoolMessenger, YouTube, and SmugMug, but it’s still looking for new and innovative ways to connect with people and present them with the information they’re looking for; this means setting up a new program including videos and shows about the district. RRISD uses these sites to provide information about what’s going on in the district, such as upcoming events or addressing parent concerns. However, it’s Community Relations department has realized that if it wants to reach out to students within the district as well as the parents of those students, it should also be present on the platforms that kids and teens use frequently.

“We really want some of the campuses to send us stuff that we can’t get to,” Brown said. “I really want to use my position to encourage and empower people to make videos that we can use.”

Starting next year, the Community Relations department is going to be running based on feeder patterns, the flow that students go through as they progress through their education. Each feeder pattern will be assigned a communications specialist, so one person will do articles and news for each feeder pattern.

“We’re going to try that approach where everyone’s going to be doing videos and stuff for their own feeder pattern as a way to get more personal with the people,” Brown said. “We’re going to try to diversify and we’re all going to work our own beats being more multimedia journalists, not just videos, but writing as well.”

Brown has also proposed a video series that consists of episodes that showcase students in different programs learning, engaging, and using their skills within the classroom. The series would be called the Hall Pass, which would be an ongoing series throughout the years at different schools that would showcase how they grow and change over time.

“I wanted to do a video series that was going to showcase student learning,” Brown said. “I go into so many classes and I film them in action but I never really see that outcome, so I wanted to do a series where we go into the classroom, we talk about what the student learning is and then walk through showing how that is applied.”

A study by the Pew Research center shows that 63 percent of Facebook as well as Twitter users got their news from those websites. Social media has recognized its role in news and the media and has started to adapt to it, with users providing real-time updates on current events. Since more and more users have started turning to social media to get news, school districts need to start utilizing it as well.

“I’m pushing that we as a district should seriously be thinking about Snapchat,” Brown said. “The reality is that not every parent is 30 years old; some are 25, 27 and they’re getting all their info on Snapchat. Right now we’re very geared towards parents, caucasian females who are on Facebook, but I think as a district we need to look at where people really are.”

Along with social media, the district also encourages principals to record videos of events on campus so that more news can be covered. This way, news about smaller programs can be covered on the same level as that of bigger programs and organizations.

“There are plenty of worthy programs that we need to be highlighting,” said Brown. “We really want some of the campus to send us stuff that we can’t get to.”

The district decision to start these videos will hopefully encourage a more connected community, bringing together parents, students, and outside viewers to give insightful information on what school programs are about.

“I’ve got a responsibility to show what’s good about this district,” Brown said. “What are the great things going on in the classroom that aren’t necessarily coming out through a press release or news?”

Throughout the years, the skepticism around using social media and recording current campus news through more outlets than just a print news form will start to diminish. And hopefully, this will encourage staying connected not just within in the state, but throughout the country in order to promote the growth of expansion of an more modern education.

“The videos are creating sort of an archive of where the district has gone,” Brown said. “In telling our stories we get to document what’s going on and see its growth.”

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