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Taking Positives From Negatives: The Importance of Virtual Innovation in The COVID Era

By Emily Lowit and Suz Verbeke | About the writers | About Finalsite


Over the last couple of years, we have all seen the necessity to take things virtual. Educators and school staff have had to be highly adaptable and creative in order to meet the expectations of their current communities while also building their admissions pipelines.


International schools have gone above and beyond with virtual events and engagement throughout the pandemic. However, now that many schools are able to resume in-person operations, it would be a mistake to abandon these new tactics. The need for virtual communications is here to stay, and utilizing it to provide experiences that augment in-person activities opens doors that were not previously available.


Below are examples of how AMISA schools have innovated to create new opportunities for their current students and parents while also extending their reach far beyond those who are geographically close.

Showcasing Alumni Success Stories

School alumni are one of your greatest assets. Maintaining relationships with your alumni around the world can help grow your reputation from local to global. Your alumni provide referrals, financial support, and can serve as a valuable resource for your current students. Additionally, it’s highly beneficial to show how your school contributed to their success. This can be done in the form of photos, video testimonials, or written stories posted on your website, social media channels, or included in newsletters.


Escuela Americana has done a great job of connecting with alumni through their new interview series that is posted on social media. They highlight career success but also include a quote on how their school impacted the individuals and led to long-term success.



Engaging With Students Outside The Classroom

Teachers do a great job developing relationships with students in their classroom, but that tends to end once the students are out the door. However, there is the opportunity to continue to build these relationships through virtual engagement and activities. We’ve seen schools do both live and recorded events that fit a flexible schedule so that they’re fun and not a burden to students.


Over the holiday season, The International School of Port of Spain posted a series of holiday videos counting down to Christmas. Teachers participated by recording story readings that were then posted daily on the school’s social media channels.


Parents could go onto social media to access the video link so that it can be played back to students.


This is a nice example of something for younger kids, but you can also use this technique for older students by doing things like virtual cooking lessons to follow at home, or other fun activities.






Brainstorm As A Community

Understanding your community’s sentiment is essential when developing your strategic goals and plan.

Tools like virtual idea boards can serve as an

asset when trying to gather information not only about how your community feels about current operations but also when collecting ideas about how the school can improve to better serve their students, parents, and staff.


The American School Foundation of Monterrey developed their Virtual Project Nest to hear different perspectives of what is (and is not) working at their school and solicit suggestions for improvements. By providing this forum virtually, they have eliminated physical boundaries for people unable to attend in-person meetings, and also make idea-sharing more accessible to those who might not be willing to speak up in front of others.




Virtual Enrollment/tours

Something that we have heard a lot from international schools is that people fall in love with their school the second they step onto the campus. When people can’t visit before enrolling, how can you develop these sentiments via other forms of communication?


Graded - The American School of Sao Paulo does this through their virtual admissions hub. Tools like virtual tours, meeting the admissions team, and introducing the school’s culture and facilities can help begin to build this bond before a physical visit. Giving a peek into life at the school can also help parents form a connection and build confidence in the decision to choose your school.






Creating Unique Opportunities For Students in The Classroom and Beyond

Even when students are able to be back at school, virtual or hybrid experiences provide the opportunity to enrich classroom learning and bring lessons to life. Pulling in subject matter experts and differing perspectives adds dimension to lessons and makes learning more personal and engaging. Plus, it’s far easier (and likely less of a financial burden) to organize these types of events virtually and even opens up opportunities for more. Beyond benefiting the student, promoting this type of event on your public-facing channels helps to show the dimensions of learning at your school. Parents ultimately want the best opportunities for their children, and these experiences can set you apart.


The International School Nido de Aguilas has had a few exciting events including having a discussion with a local Chilean author to augment their classroom unit. Students had the opportunity to participate directly in the discussion.


Key Takeaway

Implementing any of these techniques can help grow your reputation both locally and internationally. For most international schools, it can be nearly impossible to gather everyone together in person, so using virtual engagement tools helps to create essential connections that directly impact the success of your school. We can’t wait to see what creative ideas you all continue to come up with!



 

About the writers:


Emily Lowit

As Finalsite's International Business Development Representative, Emily has worked with schools around the world to provide insight and advice as they evaluate their websites, explore and plan for a website redesign. Emily serves as the first point of contact as schools evaluate their current website and digital resources in order to develop a plan of action for improvements and project goals.




Suz Verbeke

Formerly a client of Finalsite herself, Suz joined Finalsite’s International Client Success Team in 2020. She works closely with schools to advocate industry best practices while helping them continuously evolve and incorporate their Finalsite product and platform functionality. Suz has a Master’s degree in marketing, a background in graphic design, and is always ready to discuss strategy and design functionality with schools.




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