Media: How SchoolBook Aims To Get More Folks Involved
Everybody who creates an education site wants super active readers and commenters, but not everybody knows how to get and keep them (or how to get them to do anything more than comment randomly). One of the most interesting things that SchoolBook is going to do to address this challenge is make use of a database of commenter/experts created by Minnesota Public Radio / American Public Media. Another strategy they're planning on using is to get folks involved via text and cell phone voicemail messages, not just smartphone and Internet-based interactivity, since many folks (esp. low-income and immigrant) rely on regular cell phones. Read below for some more details based on a phone conversation with WNYC's John Keefe.
Another things that WNYC is going to do is to make it so that commenters will be able to have their comments show up in more than one place -- in a discussion about a particular school, for example, as well as a discussion about a related issue. They'll also be identified by school and role (parent, educator, etc.) No badges, however. And to make sure that they don't roll out 2,500 school profile pages and have most of them end up empty of activity, they're going to focus on a handful of schools this fall, both piloting and priming the site for expanded discussions on other school pages. No word on exactly what set of schools they're focusing on, or a list, but I got the sense that they'd already decided on a kind of school and a distribution across the city.
Last but not least, they're not going to rely on folks weighing in via smartphone or the Internet. Instead, they're going to use both texting and invitations to call and leave short voice messages for reporters and/or broadcast. The platform is called mobilecommons and if text in or respond to an invitation to weigh in then you can get a call and leave a voicemail message -- no call-in required. The texts and calls are transcribed and delivered to the reporters and producers for use. Apparently WNYC used this to great effect a little while ago when the primary ballots were messed up, and it's also been used on other sites like racialicious.
Previous post on this is here.
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