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Using Instagram to Capture our Moments

February 19, 2013

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When I became the web page coordinator of my school’s website four years ago, my main job was making sure the teacher web pages were correctly linked and that important announcements were posted to the website about twice a year. Getting the stipend check felt more like a handout than a check that I’d earned, but that would soon change.

With the help of administration, the Walton website quickly turned into a hybrid of a school site with the typical links to teachers’ pages and resources along with news of what was happening. As the updates became more frequent, more teachers began utilizing this outlet as a means for getting their news out there. Throw in some fancy graphics courtesy of one assistant principal, and within two years the web page coordinator was a full-time stipend.

The next year, it grew even more by embedding a Twitter account on the home page. Most people see the Twitter news of our school not through following us on Twitter but through seeing the embedded box on the homepage of the site. This is another place to give updates to what’s going on, and one of the best ways to let other students, parents, and the community know what is happening in our school is by showing them through pictures.

Enter Instagram. The photo-editing app was voted App of the Year in 2011 by Apple. Instagram earned its popularity through the various filters and effects you could add to your photos, taking ordinary photos and giving them an artsy or nostalgic feel. The app also developed an easy sharing method for photos, linking straight to a Twitter account. Thus, every time I publish an Instagram photo, I can link the publication of it to Walton’s Twitter account. If anyone clicks on the link in the school’s Twitter feed, they can instantly see the picture on their computer. The Instagram account can also be followed through Instagram. Simply put, there’s plenty of ways for our community to see what’s going on with our school by publishing a picture once through Instagram.

One of the best parts about using Instagram is being able to share our Instagram page with the students. This allows them to see what’s going on in other parts of the building and gets them excited about contributing to the page. The page is really set up for them, so the shots they can publish are much more meaningful. As more kids talk about the page, it also gets the teachers more excited about sending pictures when I do an email all-call for new pictures.

I hope to expand the Walton Instagram by gaining more student submissions on a regular basis. I’d also like to try out a feature “A Day in the Life” where a student takes pictures throughout the day of what’s really exciting and even the mundane and then have them publish the pictures to the school Instagram. There are many embedded skills students learn in taking and editing pictures for an authentic audience, and building a buzz around this should help students feel more ownership about the place they spend so much time in.

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