Saturday, May 14, 2016

Going Online (Day 3)

Going Online (Day 3)

by Rey Laguda

(This is the DepEd USec Rey Laguda's Day 3 of 50-day journey being serialized here with his permission, culled from his Facebook account. - Blogger/owner)

In 2010, social media was an important factor in the elections and the new administration intended to maximize the use of social media as a channel for effective mass communication and engagement. The Department of Education needed to take its communication and advocacy efforts to another level as well. Communication in a large organization with 700,000 employees spread over thousands of locations and with millions of external publics is a challenge. Traditionally, DepEd would communicate via traditional channels such as magazines and news dailies, interviews with tv, radio and print, and through events. A website was being maintained that was used mainly to post DepEd policy issuances. It was also funny that the website had such a busy look with so many organizational partner logos drowning out the DepEd brand.

If we were to be relevant to the growing online community, we wanted to establish presence online befitting of a government agency that was relevant to its stakeholders. It was decided that the website needed revising. In fact, it needed a major overhaul. We partnered with the IT Association of the Philippines as they helped us design and host our website. We then took on a second revamp years later refining further what was done and working with our own in house information design specialists. It was not enough to just talk about what content was relevant to the myriad set of stakeholders the education sector had. We wanted to bring in user experience, brand consistency, and design. Since its latest redesign in October 2014, DepEd website has reached 5.6 million users (43% of it are new users; 57% are returning visitors and garnered over 52.2 million page views - mostly on policy issuances such as DepEd orders and memoranda. Now, DepEd reaches its stakeholders faster and more efficiently. The search facility for references was also redone with the introduction of metadata referencing and also inline text search. Recently, all regional websites have been migrated to have one deped website for all. Take time to visit our website and navigate through it -

DepEd also wanted to establish presence in social media. When MMDA launched its Twitter account, it was such a hit. It was interacting with its followers and daily traffic updates were just very practical and useful for Metro Manila commuters. At around the same time, DepEd created its official Twitter and Facebook accounts managed by a small team of two to three people. We were trying to figure out that we couldn't really do daily posts as often as MMDA but we had the potential to reach more since we had an audience spread all over the archipelago. And of course, education was everyone's concern.

Our followers grew and grew and now we have 1.3 million followers on Facebook and more than 2.5 million followers on Twitter. On the average, our Facebook post is able to reach 300,000 people on an organic basis. DepEd uses its social media accounts mostly to relay information, the most popular being the declaration of class suspension (#walangpasok) and class resumption. Policies are also announced.

These channels are also used to urge stakeholder participation and engagement. One example was the launch of #SchoolPatrolPH, a crowdsourcing platform where the public can report school damages after any disaster. This helped the Department in getting pictures and other data that hastened the validation process for repair requirements after Typhoon Glenda in 2014. Rappler even recognized DepEd_PH as a top influencer in disseminating #walangpasok information to students and parents. Another way of engagement is getting the general public to send reports/complaints via FB message of DepEd since there is higher presence in that channel.

Teachers and staff were also online and we started creating groups where online chats transpired for technical support to EBEIS rollout. Groups of teachers and non-teaching employees also created their own online venues for discourse, clarification and queries, and even just greeting someone on his or her birthday. Communities were being formed by different groups within DepEd.

Students were also starting to interact with DepEd accounts asking questions or giving comments. This is a great opportunity for DepEd to also better understand online behavior of our own learners and how we could respond better, or how our teachers could teach better.

Indeed, DepEd is online and there are more opportunities for enhancing the Agency's presence for better and wider engagement with its stakeholders. Managing this presence is not simple and requires talent and organization. This is one channel that should continue to be supported and enhanced towards the accomplishment of the Agency's outcomes of access, quality and governance.




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