At the CUE Rockstar TOSA Edition in early December I was part of a dynamic conversation about "how do teachers, coaches, principals, etc get their message out to their audience". We talked about using all types of tools from social media, email and of newsletters. This conversation continued by spilling over to various Voxer group chats and led me to really think about how and why I want to share out with my audience.
It's taken some time for me to finish this blog post, but here it is:
Newsletters. Yes those boring old publications that seem to have been around forever. What do they have to do with Ed Tech innovation and ideas? Well, in my role as a TOSA it has been one of the best tools to PUSH a message out to my audience in a consistent manner. I looked at different tools - many of which I am sharing below - picked one and stuck with a weekly regiment of sending them out every Friday.
In my newsletters I do several different things. First is the sharing of new ideas and innovations. Second is to spotlight teachers and others who are doing great things and third is to remind them to reach out to me with ideas, questions or comments.
It has been probably the most powerful tool that I have used all year to push ideas and open contact with myself and my teachers.
Now for regular classrooms teachers, the newsletter is a tool which has been used for years. Often this is a weekly email that is sent out to parents and that idea of constant communication should not change. I hope that teachers will look at some of these tools to see how they can possibly increase their engagement with their audiences.
Here is my list of 7 tools for creating newsletters. I've ranked in an un-scientific poll made up by me!
Microsoft Publisher is the Cadillac of newsletter programs. But just like a Cadillac, its nice but old. More focused for users wishing to print newsletter and brochures. It has tons of templates and has been the industry standard for decades.
Lucidpress is a web-based layout/design software application that creates
"Everything you make in Lucidpress can be printed, published online, or shared through social media with the click of a button. The stunning results will make you look and feel like a design genius."
It is free for 3 pages per document or $5.95 a month after that
Flash Issue is an extension in Chrome which allows you to "Design amazing emails with our drag-and-drop editor. Create mailing lists and send bulk email"
It is the only one of these which embeds directly into your email
Adobe Slate is not quite a newsletter creator but tool to make striking animated videos or beautiful visual stories.
"Put a unique twist on anything you want to communicate — a book report, weekly customer newsletter or your latest travel adventure. Slate automatically adapts to any device, creating a delightful read on tablets, phones or computers."
This is a free service with an Adobe account (free to create as well)
Smore is one of the beautiful and effective online flyers and newsletters tools out there. It allows great looking newsletters and gives you back great analytics to see who is looking and what they are looking at.
There is a limited free option but the cost for all the features for educators is $50 per year.
Slides is NOT just for presentations. What I have been using in my job as a Tech TOSA is to send out a weekly newsletter in Google Slides. Each week the link is actually the same as the week before and I only add a new slide to the front of this slide show.
The biggest downfall in using this is that I get no analytics back. Meaning I don't know how many viewers I get each week.
The pros for using Google Slides are:
1) I am modeling using the Google tools that all of our teachers have. I have had quite a few teachers now start using this same idea with newsletters for their classrooms - everything from Kindergarten to High School
2) It lets me do a newsletter in one slide - which is something which most teachers find not too overwhelming
3) it allows me to embed it, I can put it in many different places - like right on web site. SEE BELOW!
Here are several examples of other teachers, coaches, and others who have used Slides for newsletters. The cool part, remember, is that if you find anything you like you can open it and then go to File - Make A Copy and bam, now its yours!
Coach Ben's Newsletters
Sunset Ranch Elementary
Los Banos Technology
South Loop Elementary
Dry Creek Tech Newsletter
Please pass on any of your newsletter links so I can add to this list.