Social Media’s Influence on Policy Issues

 

The Issue

My policy issue concerns the lack of adequate salary, benefits, and professional recognition for teachers in independent preschool programs. Although there is increasing pressure for preschool teachers to hold college degrees, there is little attention given to the fact that most independent (non-profit, faith-based, and private) programs simply cannot afford to hire and retain highly qualified/degreed teachers. The result of this inequity is high teacher turnover rates and low staff morale leading to instability in the early childhood workforce and possible poor child outcomes—including lack of attachment, lack of resilience, and delays in social/emotional and cognitive development (Commodari, 2013). As I reviewed the various social media venues in this week’s resources (Laureate Education, 2013a), I think these two would communicate my policy issue the best:

  •  A website—I believe that a website would be a remarkably effective way to display my policy issue. It would allow me to write about the issue with references to current research and links to relevant support organizations, for example The Worthy Wage Campaign (Center for the Childcare Workforce, 2015) or the Alliance for Childhood (http://www.alliance for childhood.org). The website could include testimonials from teachers in the field and data to support the policy issue, as well as current related news. I could envision a section of the website devoted to “real” stories—profiles of teachers who are working at poverty-level wages and/or those who found it necessary to leave the field in search of a living wage. A message board could be included where discussions could take place about the issue that (hopefully) would empower people to act. There could even be a PayPal button for contributions to the cause.
  • The second social medium I would choose would be Playback (Laureate Education, 2013a). I was not familiar with this medium before, but I think it would communicate the issue very well through video clips. Clips could include footage of effective teachers in practice and how they create a quality-learning environment for young children. Other potentially valuable clips could focus on interviews with teachers, scholars, and business leaders as they discuss the issue. Worthy Wage rallies could also be shown to rouse people into action.

Who Would Visit?

The potential audience for the website would include early childhood professionals who would be interested in the possibility of a living wage. Families connected to those teachers/programs profiled in the website would have a natural curiosity to see their program on the website. Community activists might be drawn by the worthy cause. Administrators would visit to keep informed of the climate of potential change if the issue provoked people into action. I could even envision political representatives having a look if the activity level began to heat up and was seen as a budding influence to their concerns.

The Playback presentation would appeal to anyone interested in early childhood and/or the issue of quality preschool and a healthy EC workforce. Certainly, families and staff associated with those displayed in the video clips would watch. I also think it would be a good tool for colleges to use in early childhood classes as a revelation to students choosing the EC field.

Benefits and Challenges

Website Benefit: Flexible formatting includes a potential for using text, images, graphs, message board, links to relevant websites, and interactive polls. Visitors to the website could easily become involved.

Website Challenge: The site would need constant monitoring for feedback and updating information. This could be time-consuming. There is also the chance that it would not reach a wide audience unless the campaign became widely known. Apart from those involved, how would people know it was there?

Playback Benefit: Most people enjoy watching videos. It would reach a wider audience than written text. The videos would also present the information in a compelling way—watching an actual preschool teacher in action or watching baccalaureate-degreed teachers describe the bleakness of earning a poverty wage after years of preparing to work in their chosen field would present a persuasive statement for the issue.

Playback Challenge: This medium would require a lot of legwork. Unlike the website which could be maintained from one’s home computer and with resources close to hand, developing and updating a Playback site means having the time and the tools to make compelling videos—presumably traveling to various locations after connecting with people and programs who would be willing to be included in the video clips. After the initial taping, the clips would need editing and posting. Although a useful medium, it would take much time and energy to keep it fresh and stimulating.

References

Alliance for Childhood. (2015, April 1). Retrieved from http://www.allianceforchildhood.org

Center for the Childcare Workforce (2015, April 1). Retrieved from http://www.ccw.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=53

Commodari, E. (2013). Preschool teacher attachment, school readiness, and risk of learning difficulties. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(1), 123-133.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2013a). Maria’s social media adventure [Interactive media]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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8 thoughts on “Social Media’s Influence on Policy Issues

  1. Hello Julie,
    I liked how you first introduced your policy issue in your Blog. It was good to understand the context of your policy issue first. I like how you introduced the two social media that you would use to communicate your policy issue. Your explanations were very clear and concise. I learned something new from reading your Blog. I like the audiences you would reach to share about your policy issue. Thank you for also sharing about the benefits and challenges of utilizing the Website and Playback as social media.

    I thought you wrote an excellent write-up on your Blog!
    Thank you,
    MyTra

    • Hi MyTra,
      Thank you so much for your response and for your kind words. This was an interesting assignment and gave me a new perspective on social media. I will confess that I am not comfortable with the influence social media seems to have over our society, but when seen as a tool to reach people and share an important message, it takes on a less “creepy” bent (maybe).
      Thank you again for responding!
      Julie

  2. Hello Julie,

    I really liked your two social media selections when it comes to sharing your policy with others. Personally, your website sounds very interesting, and I love how you will include testimonials from teachers within the website. I believe the testimonials from the teachers will get the attention of policy-makers because the teacher’s stories will be personal. Also the playback videos will also be great as well. I never heard about playback until this semester, and believe the videos will have a huge impact for your policy issue. Thank you for such a great blog! I look forward to reading more about how your social media outlets will help spread the word on how important your policy issue needs to change.

    • Hi Avis,
      Thank you for responding! I am excited about the website idea. I recently designed my first website for the preschool where I work and it was a learning experience, and a very satisfying one. I agree that a website would provide the venue for telling real stories that might be attention-getting. I also feel that a website is like a foundation–it can lay out the bare bones and then grow as different perspectives, issues, and ideas emerge. I like that feeling of connection and moving forward.
      Thank you again for your response and your support!
      Julie

  3. Hi Julie!
    I appreciate your thoughtful and well-organized approach to this blog assignment, as well as your great ideas!
    I agree that video is a fantastic medium for attracting attention and getting people to engage. I usually click first on the videos if they are available and find that they add a great deal to my understanding of certain issues. I’m wondering if it would be helpful to think of the gathering of videos as a group advocacy effort. All those teachers and families who support your cause ARE, theoretically, in a variety of locations, and with the video capability of both smart phones and tablets, the gathering of footage would seem to be not quite as overwhelming.
    I agree, too, that a website is almost essential for any kind of campaign or project. I’m impressed that you’ve developed one for your preschool! I know that most websites I visit I come to via links on Facebook, unless they are the ones created by large organizations that show up in Google searches. The more I thought about this project, the more I realized that one can almost not have just one or two social media avenues; they all seem somewhat interconnected…
    I look forward to following your project throughout the rest of this semester and…beyond?!?!
    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie,
      What a great idea to share the video-making portion of the project–that makes such good sense–thanks! I agree that videos can make a complex issue more easily understood. I also like the “real” aspect of a video–seeing a teacher in action would be more compelling than reading about one (I think).
      Thanks so much for you response and encouragement!
      Julie

  4. Hey Julia,

    I enjoyed your post! Your post was very insightful and thoughtful. We had similar thoughts I think videos will reach more people. My generation and younger seems to be intrigued by videos or a snapshot rather than an article or write up. Even in my blog post I try to include pictures to engage my reader. I forward to your next post!

    Heather

    • Hi Heather,
      I agree! I think visual presentations, like videos and slideshows, have a way of grabbing people’s attention and attracting a wider audience than written articles. I think you are right–they can be so much more engaging! Thank you for your response!
      Julie

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