Navigating the New Education Landscape
Amidst health concerns, political debates and protests, educators, students and parents are balancing a drive to keep the learning going with a desire to protect themselves and their families. In the absence of clear guidance, they’re hungry for resources. Education resources, tips and tricks are dominating social media conversation, and mention of education models more than doubled in coverage.
Notably, the resource discussion extends into the widening of the equity gap—a consistent topic, and one that illustrates the human face of the pandemic and the strain it is putting on those who were already struggling. Equity and access was one of the more entrenched themes, continuing to grow as other news cycles have come and gone.
As experts in education, we as communicators can shine a light on pressing human issues and help people find the resources they need.
The definitions of teacher and student have evolved rapidly. Parents have taken on some of the traditional teacher roles, with 75% overseeing their children’s education. When it comes to K-12, parents’ and educators’ shared goals to help students succeed remains, however the roles they play overlap more than ever. At the same time, 68% of adults considering enrolling in education say they prefer nondegree pathways, up from 50% a year ago*. This illustrates the changing learning landscape post high school.
Over 1/3 of parents have made a tech purchase or upgraded their Wi-Fi to aid distance learning, and 42% have provided tech support nearly every day in the previous week; they’ve become IT decision makers.
As communicators, we need to reach the traditional audiences of administrators and educators, plus we need to understand and assist the parent audience. Their challenges, pain points and voices will continue to increase in significance and purchasing influence.
The volume of media coverage has exploded over the last seven months. Looking at the critical back to school season, education coverage grew 156% year-over-year when comparing July 2020 to July 2019. The same held true for August—it grew 97% year-over-year when comparing August 2020 to August 2019.
Interestingly, in July, education and education technology related media coverage was even higher than it was at the original COVID outbreak, even as schools closed in March. While much of this is politically charged, when we remove coverage on federal funding of K-12 tied to re-opening in July, we still see a year-over-year increase of 121%.
This presents both challenges and opportunities for us as education communicators. There is more room for relevance and resonance outside of the typical school year, but more controversy and conversation through which we need to break through.
Intersection of Purpose & Relevance
Use storytelling to attach your mission and vision to the current need.
Make teachers, parents and families a focal point of your narrative—empower them to share experiences and concerns.
Frame storytelling around what’s next, particularly with a human-centered approach grounded in the long-term, societal challenges and opportunities.
Edit the jargon and lengthy feature-focused explanations. Simple tips and tricks packaged with related visual assets are what parents—and media—crave.
Build a data-driven process for monitoring what’s needed, what’s trended and adapt talking points, storylines and campaigns accordingly.