How to include the community when making key school decisions

For schools and districts seeking a more comprehensive suite of tools and services to support various employee and public engagement strategies, MindMixer might be a good option to consider.

In addition to the secure online surveys and report functions offered by a number of vendors, MindMixer helps school leaders create, maintain, monitor, and promote interactive websites built around specific initiatives. The service also includes web hosting and access to a MindMixer engagement specialist, who helps clients make the most of the service’s features and automations.

The combination of engagement support and one-site access to functions such as photo sharing, instant polling, and other online surveying techniques seems to give MindMixer an edge over other services I’ve reviewed.

I also like the graphic way they produce survey results. The reports at the end of each topic period include statistics, trends, and demographics. (See for samples.)

Simplifying key data into graphic representations looks easy. It isn’t. MindMixer’s graphic reports easily could be turned into compelling board presentations, press releases, print posters, social media news, and so on.

What’s more, its site administration and organization services are impressive. “MindMixer can be used for multiple initiatives, and the conversations are neatly sorted automatically,” according Lori Reed, regional sales manager, via eMail. “Citizen feedback is arranged by topics, and topics change at your discretion. When topics change, we notify participants so they can join the next round of discussions and stay engaged.”

For more advice about engaging school stakeholders, see:

Smart phones require smart communication strategies

Using QR codes for school communications

Ten tips for using social media in school communications

Another feature I like is that MindMixer sites are designed with mobile users in mind, and people can participate by text, mobile phone calling, and links on social media sites, as well as through traditional websites and local landline phones (with no long-distance charges).

MindMixer also can produce engagement sites in 52 languages, another key factor in building bridges for diverse audiences. Web-hosted on the company’s own servers, MindMixer sites can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, yet can be branded to look like the client school or district.

According to Reed, the sites use Google translators so languages can be determined by the user and “switched on the fly.”

In theory, someone with a good working knowledge of public engagement processes and techniques, as well as online surveying, social media, graphic design, and interactive websites, could achieve the same kind of results—but how many staff members really have all that technology and communications know-how?

Designed to help local government officials engage citizens more effectively, MindMixer takes clients through a range of engagement processes, from framing issues for discussion to idea generation, refinement, and prioritization.

Clients may post educational resources, PDFs, and links to related websites to help inform citizens about important issues. These resources are organized by topic to make access by the public more convenient.

(Next page: The three goals for any public engagement initiative)

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