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Is your school dying a digital death

The 1960s was a remarkable decade for technology. Electronic calculators, computers (so large they filled entire rooms) and the Internet (well…sort of) were making headlines. Audio-visual instruction and overhead projectors were adopted en masse.

At the center of it all, educators were given a new lease on teaching.

They had more time than ever before to develop new ways to reach and inspire their students. The classroom was forever changed. Schools took a 20th-century-style leap forward.

50-ish years later, and we’re at a similar turning point in education technology. Well beyond Steve Jobs’ vision for a computer in every home, most teachers *and* students have ‘mini-computers’ in their pockets that are literally millions of times more powerful than what astronauts used to get to the moon in the ‘60s.

So why are schools still recruiting teachers as they were 50 years ago? Sure, back then job fairs and traditional advertising pulled in plenty of talent, but today, the best teachers are hired long before your ads go to print.

COLD HARD FACT: We’re not living in the 20th century anymore!

Most schools have dumped overhead projectors for their flashier younger brothers, and updated teaching techniques to reflect the changing times. But struggle when it comes to changing anything online. And when websites are bad, recruitment strategies haven’t been updated since the age of the job fair.

Think about that…job fairs and traditional advertising may have been cutting edge in the ‘60s, but now they’re just business as usual. They’re considered one foot in the grave as far as recruitment strategies go.

COLDER HARDER FACT: 97% of teachers are finding their roles online.

Now that the cold hard truth is on the table, it’s time to look at what we can change and use that knowledge to develop a recruitment strategy that is streamlined, results-driven and capable of netting the world’s best teachers.

So first and foremost, all schools are on the same recruitment strategy curve. Just like placing students on a grading bell-curve there are different stages in the development of an awesome student, just as there are multiple stages when it comes to creating the right recruitment strategy.

First, you’ve got to change their mindset – so if your strategy isn’t working, you might be inclined to think you’re doing something wrong, or you’re just not able. Similar to a weak student’s confidence in the classroom, you might lack confidence in implementing a digital strategy.

WARM SOFT TRUTH: You are capable of transforming your school’s digital presence, and the tools are at your fingertips right now!

Before I break out *HOW* to right the ol’ ship, let’s take a look at the behavior of some schools and how they might land on the ‘digital adoption curve’. Yet another notable contribution from the ‘60s, Everett Rogers’ ‘Diffusion Of Innovations’ described how new ideas and technologies spread.

Now, I’m not suggesting internet marketing is a new technology. But to many schools, it may as well be. It’s time for some reflection…

TRUTH BOMB: Most schools are at the bottom of the technology curve

I work with schools every single day, and many General Directors and Heads Of School shy away from the digital side. Perhaps because they’ve so much else to do, but I think you would agree there is also some fear there.

They don’t really know how to make it work for their school and are comfortable with the way things were. This isn’t to say that they don’t participate in digital, but their presence is ineffective or dormant.

Let me paint a pretty disturbing picture of what all of this ‘digital curve’ business looks like. Mind you, I’ve adapted these archetypes  slightly using the commonly known Technology Adoption Curve, The ‘Pencil Metaphor’ for EdTech Adoption and my own language to make them more fitting to this market. Below, I’ve provided insight into a few archetypical points a school may find itself on the curve.

The laggards (schools ignoring the digital facts!)

  • Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. These individuals typically have an aversion to change. Laggards usually tend to be focused on “traditions,” and say things like “this is the way it’s always been done.”
  • These schools invest in several methods of recruitment but don’t have KPI’s or methods of measurement in place to understand which elements of the strategy are working best, and which are unperforming.
  • They have dormant social media channels that lack a clear strategy or intention.
  • Perhaps the most concerning things about these schools is that they’re often willfully naive. They are suffering head-in-the-sand syndrome and drop major dollars on job fairs every year. There’s no analysis of what all that money spent on recruitment is actually achieving.
  • These schools fail to participate in conversations that are already happening. If nobody chats to your school online – unless no one is applying for your openings, or showing up to student teacher night- there’s something wrong with your digital strategy.

The hangers-on (schools that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk)

  • These schools attend the right conferences, know the lingo, acknowledge that modern recruitment challenges can’t be addressed using outdated strategies  – but don’t do anything about it. They hate to attend job fairs. But *STILL* do it.
  • They feel the pressure of needing a better online strategy and they’re scrambling.
  • These schools don’t appear on the first page of google results when searching: Teaching Jobs In ((INSERT COUNTRY)). Meaning they aren’t discoverable by the majority of job seeking educators.
  • As far as these schools go, a lot of them still rely on referrals and test scores to pull in candidates. But as the teacher shortage becomes more acute– they will need to change their approach.
  • Collecting and measuring data that will help them move away from the traditional teacher recruitment model of jobs fairs is a big pain point for these Hangers On.

Digitally savvy schools (schools leading the digital charge)

  • Recruitment Strategy ->  Tactics -> Results -> Measurement -> Repeat
  • They also have a diverse online presence. They know their website alone isn’t enough and use multiple channels to amplify their job posting. They’re tapping into the channels that job seekers browse, i.e. education jobs boards, Google, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to engage candidates.
  • hey’re mobile ready – they recognize that 52% of all web traffic is from mobile devices. They use mobile-friendly job descriptions and application processes.
  • These schools know how to measure the success of their recruiting efforts – the most effective channels, what they spend per hire, and as a result, they know where to find their ideal candidates.
  • They also know that a continuous recruitment presence is key. 52% of teachers start their job hunt 6 months in advance, and nearly every single school I speak to could do more to get in front of the right teacher at the exact moment they kick off their search. The job hunt never ends and if you don’t have a pipeline of potential future teachers ready and waiting… you’re doing something wrong.
  • These guys have nailed employer branding. Their careers page and job descriptions make it crystal clear what the compensation, benefits and opportunities for growth are for future teachers at their school.
  • These schools know that when it comes to their employer brand, their biggest advocates are their teachers. They encourage current teachers to submit stories, videos and photos that can be used to attract like-minded teachers and really bring their careers page to life.

I know, I know, this is a lot of information to absorb, so my advice is to go away and decide where you land on the digital curve. This is just the start of the digital puzzle and taking some time out to identify where you’re at is a serious part of taking the right steps towards that streamlined digital future…I’ll be back with some steps you can take to boost your school’s digital health!

Meanwhile…I’ll be chatting to schools at a number of upcoming events (see bio on my LinkedIn profile for details) and would love to get into details with anyone curious about their school’s digital health. I’m also up for a call if you want to book a time on my Calendly, or you can always drop a comment below. Whatever you choose to do, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Originally published on LinkedIn.