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Some of you in the greater DesignShare community are aware of the growing use of blogging for school design teams to connect with their client communities.

As background, check out these resources: 1) Why blogging might be a transformative tool for school design teams; and 2) a review of the same topic done as a presentation for CEFPI earlier this April.

For some firms, it’s merely about marketing (not the winning answer, by the way…but you can only learn that truth the hard way). But for a ‘brave’ few, it’s really about learning to be an ‘expert by listening’ and empowering the client community to be asking for the right things when they say ‘school building’.

Ran across the following from Paul Baker on his “EducationPR” blog. He’s talking about the opposite side of the table, about the growing use of blogs for school officials and trustees to engage their community. Seems that if our clients are going into the blogosphere, it’s only right that we are at least familiar, if not yet passionate and nimble.

He wrote:

I enjoyed reading Craig Colgan’s story “What’s in a Blog?” in American School Board Journal, July 2005. He provides several case studies of school board members, administrators, and teachers engaging their communities with weblogs.

He makes an interesting and somewhat troubling point: “While blogs are gaining ground as a communications tool, some predict that administrators and K-12 decision makers will not use them on a widespread basis. Near the top of their list of reasons is fear of fast feedback.”

Hmmmm. . . What does it say about us if we fear feedback?. . .

Truth be told, feedback happens: school clients can fire firms and interview new ones, voters vote, parents call the school and Board, and kids tell you what they really feel. But refusing to use tools that empower, because of fear of feedback that’s going to happen anyways? Seems especially simplistic when you take into account how transparent the world is now and also the need to be a ‘trusted listener’ as well as an ‘expert’.

Remember, feedback is unavoidable. But choosing to listen and empower is a choice.

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