For the past few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was ambiguous and practically out of reach for most of us. Unless you are working for a large technology company or NASA, AI hasn’t been a part of our day-to-day tasks. Now, whether you’re an educator, parent, student or even a communications professional, you can take advantage of AI and its endless opportunities, thanks to one of the most recent tools, ChatGPT.
When new technologies arise, it is easy to sit on the sidelines until you’re obligated to take part. The CESO Communications team gathered together to learn more about ChatGPT and how it can benefit you as a communications leader, and your school district as a whole. Have fun!
Treat AI as any other new technology tool you are introducing to your staff members. Partner with your technology team to offer helpful articles and resources, plan lunch-and-learns and potentially bring in a speaker during a professional development session.[/vc_column_text][/toggle][toggle color="Default" heading_tag="default" title="How will AI affect students in their education?"][vc_column_text]A common fear when it comes to students and AI is that it could lead to shortcuts that stunt learning. However, if a student is learning from their teacher how to potentially use AI as a tool rather than a replacement, they are more likely to use it for good. In an article by John M. Richardson, he spoke with Dr. Neil Selwyn from Australia’s Monash University, who said “students need to be taught to recognize when they are interacting with a bot, how to use AI tools productively, and how to communicate in ways that are superior to machines.”
Yes! Informing families of new technologies will put their minds at ease when they may see their student interacting with it. We recommend providing resources and additional information through your current family communications channels, including an email newsletter or web page. If there are already parent meetings in place, this would be a great opportunity for a staff member to share more information and answer any questions.
The information within ChatGPT or other AI tools does not come from Google, rather it is pulled from a large repository of data including text, images and audio recordings. As mentioned in an article by Ethan Mollick in the Harvard Business Review, “It is no replacement for Google. It literally does not know what it doesn’t know, because it is, in fact, not an entity at all, but rather a complex algorithm generating meaningful sentences.”
We could do a completely separate blog post on this question, but we’ll give you the basics. Since AI’s behavior is determined by its algorithm, it is essentially up to its creators to determine what ethical guidelines are built into the system. Humans have biases and prejudices and so do the people who are programming these systems, which means they run the risk of skewing the output and displaying racism, sexism or abusive language.
OpenAI also recognizes limitations of ChatGPT on its website, sharing that it can write plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers, it is often excessively verbose and overuses certain phrases, and that while they have made efforts to make the model refuse inappropriate requests, it sometimes responds to harmful instructions.
It’s important to understand these risks so you can look for them and personalize the messages to your communities, like we recommend below.
The easiest way to get started is to simply ask the bot a question and see what happens, but the more people have become familiar with the way this algorithm works, the more they learn that questions should get really specific. For example, instead of asking the system to write a social media post about crosswalk safety, you could say:
“Generate three tips for crosswalk safety.” (Allow ChatGPT to respond)
Once you have your initial response, you can ask for specificity. “Formulate the generated text in multiple tweets. Keep in mind the maximum length of 280 characters per tweet. Use short sentences and do not stretch them across multiple tweets.”
You can continue to alter the text with simple commands like “add empathy to this text” or “use slang” (do this if you need a laugh, as most of the slang is from the late 90’s at best).
The more specific you get with the prompt, the better the content will be. Once you have that content perfect, you can make it more brand-centric.
As recommended by Mushtaq Bilal, Ph.D., it is best to use ChatGPT to give you structure rather than content for a project, because the content provided is predictable. Combine the recommended suggestions with your ideas and experiences to tailor the information to your school district. For example, you can ask ChatGPT to share ideas for a video script about students working in the community or ideas for a new marketing campaign.
To share how this could work, we typed in, “share ideas for a staff recruitment campaign in a small rural school district” and received the following answer within seconds:
Reading through this response, the structure for the campaign is present, but the one obvious missing key is the personalization for the specific school district. If you are struggling with getting started, asking a simple prompt like the one above can provide a foundation. Take this structure and add your brand language and key messages throughout to truly make it a unique and specific campaign for your community.
As we prompted ChatGPT over and over, it became clear that it could be a wellspring of ideas — but without your unique perspective, the content will sound and potentially be identical to others who are using this tool. As such, branding will become more important than ever.
If you have not been through a branding process, you might not have these answers. We would love to help you uncover or rebuild your brand — it's one of our specialties! Find out more when you reach out to CESO Communications today!
After Elon Musk purchased Twitter, people who run school district social media accounts started to wonder what the platform's reported changes might mean for schools.
Members of the CESO Communications team agreed that the answer to this question depends on what you want out of Twitter. Even before the company changed hands, it was important to evaluate whether Twitter was the right tool to meet your communication goals.
We work with several districts that actively engage with staff members about professional learning on Twitter. For these districts, it might be worth staying on the platform as long as things remain productive. We know of other districts who have seen a sharp increase in the number of trolls who are flooding them with nasty comments. These districts might determine that other platforms are more useful.
CESO Communications developed guiding questions and in-depth analysis for you to consider as you weigh whether Twitter is the right tool for you:
• Target audience
Consider whether this platform targets the people you want to reach. According to research from the Pew Research Center conducted last year, many more people use Facebook and YouTube than Twitter, and most traffic on Twitter comes from a few high-frequency users. Most of the research we’ve seen from individual school districts supports this – stakeholders don’t usually get their district news from Twitter. If you aren’t already surveying your audiences about their communication preferences, now is a good time to start.
Some people are considering alternate social media sites, but many of these are very early in their development, so your target audiences might not be on them. Consider whether a social media tool is the best way to achieve your intended goal. For example, if you want to reach local reporters and editors who use Twitter frequently, could you have just as much success by emailing or texting them?
A few of your stakeholders have accounts on TikTok, Pinterest or SnapChat. While the benefit of using social media tools is meeting our audiences where they are, we need to carefully consider which platforms are most worth our limited time. Twitter is no different, even though it is one of the most commonly used in school PR.
• Success metrics
Social media provides easy metrics you can use to measure success. But the companies that own these sites provide analytics and create algorithms that incentivize you to keep your stakeholders on their site as long as possible in order to sell more ads for them. While social media engagement can help make sure people see your important messages, in the end, your real measures of success are things like the level of support for your district, the number of students enrolling in your schools, and the number of candidates applying for your job openings.
Every district has its reasons for using a social media platform. Which needs align with your current and planned usage?
Need 1: Sharing information
Unlike other platforms, Twitter is best for dialogue, not just posting information. This is why your content might get great engagement on Facebook but minimal reaction on Twitter.
Need 2: Sparking conversation
Consider whether you want to invest time in moderating discussions on Twitter, or if you would rather do that on a platform that allows for more constructive feedback, like Crowdicity, ThoughtExchange or Bang the Table.
Need 3: Joining conversation
If all your teachers are active on Twitter, this could be a useful tool for professional development discussions.
• Imitation: not always flattering
One of the recent changes to Twitter is allowing users to pay for verification instead of using it to ensure that people and institutions are who they say they are. Just after NSPRA unveiled a new initiative to get better protections against people impersonating schools on social media, Twitter has made this very easy to do. On the other hand, there might still be some use in maintaining a presence to help people identify the real account by seeing its history.
• Rise of the trolls
Twitter fired most of its content moderators who prevented trolls from posting hateful attacks and less-than-constructive feedback. Consider whether you are seeing an increase in this kind of traffic.
• Relationships and perceptions
Consider the political climate in your community. Some people are demanding that the organizations that serve them denounce Twitter’s recent decisions by stepping away. Others would protest if the district did so. Some say they cannot support Twitter’s recent decisions, while others say they are not yet willing to give up the platform Twitter provided for connecting people.
• Advertising spend
Although it is rare for schools and districts to advertise on Twitter, for those who do, now is a time to consider whether the platform demonstrates your commitment to the values your district has adopted. Actually spending money on Twitter is a stronger message of support than just maintaining a presence there.
Bottom line: There are a lot of things to balance as you try to determine whether Twitter is the right tool for your schools. The CESO team hopes our guiding questions give you a framework to make the best decision for your community.
If you’ve ever worked with CESO Transportation, you know we’re passionate about seeing every student arrive safely and on time at school every day. We know this doesn’t happen by accident or without intensive strategy and logistics that can make the job difficult. But what’s true is that from strategic planning and routing to real-time responsiveness and customer service, we live for the details.
Our incredible cross-trained staff serves districts across the state of Minnesota with efficiency and excellence, taking the pressure off of school administrators so they can become more free to focus on other ways of supporting their K-12 community. We did a little work to run the numbers and — woah — it’s really fun to look at our partnerships from this perspective.
Check out the infographic below — we love supporting our K-12 partners!
Over his 20+ year career as as a transportation director, one of our CESO Transportation Consultants found that non-licensed staff were often a step behind the rest of the district when it came to cultural competency and other soft-skills training. That's why he developed a series of training sessions that have since been presented across the country at conferences.
We know that bus drivers already have an incredible impact in the lives of students. These sessions are built to help drivers become even more effective in honoring the unique value of each learner.
Recently, Derrick appeared on the School Transportation News (STN) podcast to talk the importance of training non-licensed staff, plus he took the time to share about his experience as the first Black MAPT president. Check out the podcast below!
If you're ready to help your team of bus drivers take the next step in caring for the kids on their route, we'd love to hear from you! Sign up for updates as training sessions become available.
It’s just part of the deal when you spend all of your time supporting the incredible efforts that the K12 education community makes every day. When you are working with all kinds of people to find sustainable solutions, it requires you to be inclusive. When you build a business on relationships, you act with sincerity. And when you consistently find new and better ways to beat old challenges, you have no choice but to embrace curiosity.
It’s who we are. It’s what we do.
Learn a little more about how we think of these values and how they apply to the K12 education community members we have the privilege to serve each day.
We aspire to many things, but these three values guide the ways we speak, think, and act with internal and external clients:
We believe great ideas are born from the persistently curious mind. We act with bravery to explore beyond the expected and envision what could be.
It’s so fun to live a curious life. When we ask questions like:
• What would we do if we could start from scratch?
• Would you be open to bringing in some ideas from outside your industry?
• What does the data say about this?
• When was the last time you asked for feedback?
The possibilities start to open up.
We believe the best ideas come from a collection of minds and experiences. People from unexpected backgrounds help expand our idea of what’s possible.
From CESO team meetings and internal committees to the ways we collect community feedback to help school districts, we've learned that when you're making decisions, it's critical to emphasize representation. You need a collective — people who care deeply and are passionate, people who understand the issues and help steer, and people who are dispassionate and simple think differently.
We work to develop authentic relationships. We believe in being open, respectful and collaborative. We know an environment of trust cultivates thriving partnerships.
Sincere people are honest people. They say what they’re thinking because they believe the truth is the only real and sustainable way forward. It’s a vulnerable place to be… to take a side, to share your ideas, and to let the chips fall where they may. But when we act with sincerity, we can live without looking over our shoulders and look to the future with confidence.
That doesn’t stop companies from starting blogs, but that’s because:
And that’s as true for the Center for Effective School Operations (CESO) as it is for everyone else. These are ever-present truths in today's world.
But there are other truths, too:
When you help a lot of people, you gain credibility and influence. What you do with that influence is vitally important. You can ignore it or abuse it or generate more life and light in the world. That’s what we’re trying to do here — give really smart people who have built careers helping the K12 education community Rethink Possible a place to share wisdom.
We preach differentiation to our Communications clients. What makes you different? What are you doing that no one else is doing… or, at the very least, how is the way you do it unique to you? When people are making decisions about who to listen to and who to trust with a project, it helps to know if there is a match in worldview or thinking before you take another step. That’s why we love our people here: they have experience, but they also bring a distinct point of view that clients love and appreciate. You’ll see that come to life here at Rethink Tank.
And oh man, the people here rule. They are funny, they’ve been everywhere, they are generous and they are constantly trying to figure out new and smarter ways to solve old problems. So we’ll get into all of that… the personalities and the ways we like to serve our community, but more than anything it’s a window into how we get from “difficult problem” to “holy smokes, this is going to work.”
We’re pumped to have our Day One here at the Rethink Tank!
Here, we put the “old way of doing it” on notice.
Here, we work to do things better and faster (in that order) so students get more of what they need to thrive.
Here, we Rethink Possible.