I’m participating in the 20-day Blogging Challenge from Jennifer Brower over at Where Books and Technology Meet. She posted 20 days of blogging challenges for librarians back in January. I’m modifying and responding to one prompt each week.
Challenge: Share a tech tip for your fellow teachers and librarians. How do you use this tech tip? How does it simplify your life?
I love Smore for crafting online flyers. In the past, I was typing a monthly staff newsletter. Trying to fit the elements I wanted to include into the space I had was tough. I started to dread putting together a simple two page update of library news and resources. At the beginning of this school year I read about Smore and saw flyers used by other librarians. I decided to try it for myself. After putting together my first flyer I paid for the educator subscription. I was hooked!
For me, Smore freed me up from the space limitations of the two pages I was working within for staff news. I no longer have to worry about writing enough or writing too much. I can add as many pictures as I like. Adding the links is easy because the links are live. I regularly embed YouTube videos and make references to resources I find across the internet.
I kept my newsletter goal very simple. My aim was to send one out twice a month. I also decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I didn’t stick to a schedule. I wanted my Notes from the Library to be as much fun as possible to put together. I’ve more than met my goal and have averaged about three ‘issues’ a month.
Smore lets me make my flyer visual. I usually add a customized background related to a theme or seasonal celebration. Uploading your own backgrounds is one of the perks of a subscription. I love being able to mix up text, pictures, links, and videos.
Smore has analytics available. These are great to use as data, but I have not relied on this feature. I use the “print” option to save a copy of my flyer as a jpg file each week. When I send out the newsletter I embed a re-sized copy of the flyer into email and include a link to the online copy. I wanted my teachers to have the option to read right there in their email if they so desire. Unfortunately, if they read the (almost) full-sized image in their email then there’s no data that they’re actually reading it. I do realize that this type of data isn’t connected to anything significant, like student learning. But it would be nice to see if doing the newsletter in the first place is worth my time. Costs vs. Benefits, and all that.
Because it’s so easy to add content it’s quick to get content updated. I might be surfing through my Twitter feed and run across a great YouTube video. I can quickly open Smore in another browser tab and insert it into the right flyer. I usually have at least two drafts going at the same time. The draft that is almost ready or needs to be polished and the next one in line that has one or two anchors with resources I definitely want to include. Once I find my anchors than I can start filling in a few more resources. My goal is to always include 2 or 3 visual resources. I don’t want there to be just text and links.
If you’ve been wanting to provide resources for staff and aren’t sure which direction to go or have been doing a tired-ole-newsletter than you might want to try Smore! It’s perfect because of its versatility! You can print a colored PDF, save and send out the PDF, send out the jpg image, send it out as a link, tweet it, blog it, or print it and post it in a staff restroom!