Matthew Taylor, PhD

This is a guest post by Matthew Taylor. Matthew is the Director of Strategic Communications at Ravenscroft School located in Raleigh, NC.

I inherited a strong communications program when I started working at Ravenscroft. One of the efforts I immediately fell in love with is called Classroom Connection. It’s a blog that offers readers a peek inside the classroom to showcase our talented faculty in their element. If you handle marketing at an independent school, you know that faculty and students are the story.

Classroom Connection is consistent with the “Show, Don’t Tell” ethos that guides my marketing philosophy. Thanks to a post on SchneiderB.com, our team realized that we could take the word “show” from that phrase literally and make an already strong product even better. Here’s the kicker: we realized we could do it in less time.

We had already started to increase the quantity of our video work when we discussed the post “A Cup of Coffee With Michael Hatfield About Video in School Marketing” at our weekly staff meeting. However, most of this video work came in the form of new projects. We were adding work without taking anything off of our plates. That’s never a good formula, but it is especially problematic for a team of three people whose respective cups already runneth over.

Hatfield’s comments about the quality of iPhone video and the ease of editing them changed the game for us. There was a distinct “A-Ha!” moment when our associate director of communications suggested that we put the concepts from the article into action with Classroom Connection. I shared the article with my colleagues to reinforce the importance of visual storytelling; they did me one better by figuring out how we could implement the approach immediately. In short, our team concluded, “We can do this.” And we have.

Over the course of several weeks, Classroom Connections has taken readers (now viewers) into a Lower School classroom to observe students learning the states of matter; on a trolley tour of Raleigh with Middle School students who were learning about the Civil Rights movement; into the Upper School band room as students rehearsed for a festival at Carnegie Hall; and into a chemistry class turned industrial lab.

Classroom Connections works well as a video project. The iPhone is unobtrusive, which keeps us from interfering with the learning process. The iPhone approach has also allowed us to mitigate the most cumbersome aspects of the project: the reporting and the writing. There’s no need for note-taking as the camera captures the story. Instead of writing words, we’re editing video. (I should mention that we enjoy the benefit of a talented digital communications coordinator with excellent video skills.)

Our blog has become a vlog, and a fun one at that. Entries that used to take a week or more to post now go up within days, if not the same day. It’s all thanks to one small but significant change to the way we approached things.

Have you used the iPhone to create video for your school? Share the video below.

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