Showing posts with label newsletters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newsletters. Show all posts

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Newsletters vs. Blogs and Social Media - Thoughts for Tech Coaches

A few weeks ago a reader reached out to me for advice on creating a tech tips newsletter for her staff. Specifically, she wanted to know if she should create a blog and then email the posts to staff or if just a newsletter would be enough. It was a question that I was happy to answer. These are the thoughts that I shared with her and some additional ideas about newsletters compared to blogs and social media.

Does Your Whole School Want More Email From You?
The first question to consider is does everyone in your school want your tech tips sent to them every week or day? The answer, unfortunately, is probably not. So while you think you’re being helpful, the reality is that those who don’t want to read your newsletter every week will just be trashing your email before they even read it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it, it just means that you should consider other ways to distribute it.

One of the ways to distribute your newsletter is to simply ask people if they want to get it. You can do this with a simple Google Form or Microsoft Form and then add those people who say yes to a contact group in your email account. Another option is to use a tool like ConvertKit that lets you create a sign-up form and automatically add those who sign-up to your mailing list. I shared details on how to use ConvertKit in this April blog post.

Create a Blog or Simple Website
Again, just because not everyone in your school wants you to email them every week doesn't mean you shouldn’t write a weekly tech tips newsletter. You’re going to produce some great information that everyone in your school is going to want or need at some point. If you’re only using email, you’re going to have to dig through your email to find the tip that you wrote in September to share with someone who needs the information in April.

Write the content of your newsletter on a simple blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger then take that content and email it to those who do want to be a part of your weekly mailing. Then when someone who is not on your mailing list asks you for help, you can simply send them to your blog where they can search or you can send them a link to a specific blog post.

What About Social Media?
Yes, there is an archive of your social media postings, but good luck searching through that archive in an efficient manner when someone asks you a question in March that was addressed by the tip you posted in late August.

So if you enjoy the process of making social media posts, go ahead and post your tips on your favorite social media platform. But if you’re trying to specifically reach the people in your school, that’s not how I’d spend my time. (Full disclosure: I’m rather burnt out on social media and slowly breaking up with it).

Monday, July 6, 2020

Three Alternatives to Smore

Over the weekend I answered an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to using Smore to create online posters and newsletters to share with teachers and parents. Smore is great for some people, but it can get a little too pricey for some people. Here are a few alternatives to using Smore to create online posters and newsletters.

ConvertKit is the service that I use for my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. ConvertKit offers some nice templates for formatting your emails. I don't use those templates because I prefer to send plain text email, but it's nice to know that I could use those templates. The real reason that I use Convert Kit is because I can easily create different segments within my mailing list to send personalized emails to different groups within my mailing list. That function could be useful to schools who want to send different personalized emails to parents based on the grade that their children are in. ConvertKit has a free plan that allows you to have up to 1,000 people on your mailing list, use all of the templates, and send as many emails as you like.

Canva doesn't offer a mailing list component, but it does offer lots of templates for making online posters and simple webpages to announce events. Once you've published your poster or page, you can email the link to it or post it on your LMS. Here's a video about how to use Canva to create and publish a multimedia poster.


Adobe Spark, like Canva, offers an easy way to design and publish simple webpages to use for announcements and updates to share with your school community. One of the things that I like about Adobe Spark is that you can share your designs directly into Google Classroom. Here's my short video on how to use Adobe Spark to create simple webpages.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Turn Your Blog Into a Newsletter With RSS to PDF

Five Filters' free RSS to PDF service makes it easy to convert your blog's RSS feed into a printable PDF format. To use the service simply enter your blog's RSS feed url (if you use FeedBurner, you can use the FeedBurner feed) and Five Filters quickly converts the feed into a two column printable PDF. Click here to see the PDF created from this blog's RSS feed. Five Filters' RSS to PDF seems to convert six days worth of items from your RSS feed. Although I didn't do it for the RSS feed I converted, you can customize the title of your PDF to match your blog's title.

Applications for Education
As much as we would like to think that the parents of all of our students are can get online to view our classroom blogs, the truth is that in some districts many parents don't have reliable internet access. RSS to PDF services make it possible for you to quickly convert your blog communication to a paper document that you can mail home or send home with students.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Feed Journal - Turn RSS Feeds Into Newspapers
Feed Chronicle - Make Your Own News Page
MeeHive - Your Custom News Homepage