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Florida Literacy CoalitionFlorida Literacy CoalitionFlorida Literacy Coalition

 

Literacy Blogs
Sponsored by the Literacy Council of Manatee County and
the Florida Literacy Coalition

Introduction:

As the world of technology evolves to bring us news and information faster-and-faster, it is no surprise that literacy organizations are starting experiment with blogs – a popular form of social media. Blogs, sometimes
called weblogs, are websites that allows users to reflect, share opinions and discuss various topics in the form of an online journal. Blogs also allow readers to comment on posts, making the website interactive. The
users, called bloggers, can essentially post their opinion about any given topic and have a real-time conversation about it with readers, on the internet.

Some literacy programs have found success using blogs to communicate with their student and volunteers, while others have used them to complement their marketing efforts. The promising practice below outlines the steps taken to create and maintain successful blogs on the local and state levels. The local literacy program is the Literacy Council or Manatee County (LCMC), and the statewide organization is the Florida Literacy
Coalition (FLC).

While both blogs are recent initiatives, they are nonetheless good starting points for literacy programs interested in creating and maintaining a blog for their students, tutors and marketing purposes.

About The Organization:

LCMC
The mission of the Literacy Council of Manatee County is to empower Manatee County adults to independence through literacy. Our primary goal is to meet the critical need for a more literate community by helping Manatee County adults with limited literacy skills learn to read, write, understand and speak English well enough to meet the demands of daily life, to improve their potential for meaningful employment, and to enhance the quality of life for themselves and their families. We also encourage them to become involved in and contribute to our
community.

Our goal also includes serving as an advocate for the need to build better literacy throughout our community. We constantly strive to educate the public about the value of literacy and the problems associated with
illiteracy.

Promising Practices 2010
Adult Learner Mentor and Orientation Programs
Volunteer Literacy Tutor Trainings
Workplace ESOL Conversation Cafes
Adult Literacy Instruction with Motheread®
Adult Literacy Blogs

Promising Practices 2009
Promising Practices Home
eLearning Broward
ESOL for Adults
Lake Wales Family Literacy Coalition
Lawyers for Literacy
Workplace Literacy Program


FLC
Established in 1985, The Florida Literacy Coalition promotes, supports and advocates for the effective delivery of quality adult and family literacy services in the state of Florida.

As a statewide umbrella literacy organization and the host of Florida’s State Literacy Resource Center, FLC provides a range of services to support more than 300 adult education, literacy and family literacy providers throughout Florida. Special emphasis is placed on assisting community based literacy organizations with their training and program development needs.

Description of Project:

LCMC Adult Learner Blog
The adult learner blog is structured to provide ongoing financial literacy information, information about our
learners accomplishments and encouragement to stick to their goals.

LCMS seeks out articles and other relevant information available on-line and posts links to these resources on
their blog.

Original content from LCMS is generally written at a 6th grade reading level so that the majority of the students
can read and comprehend the information. LCMC always tries to include at least one picture or graphic as
well.

LCMC Tutor Blog
The tutor blog provides tips, strategies, links to online resources and a treasure trove of information to help
become a more effective tutor. Typically, we find the content for this blog on websites and emails received
from other local agencies.

The blogs are generally updated on a weekly basis, although there is no set schedule. We also promote the
blog and literacy info through Facebook and ManateeConnects.

FLC Blog

The FLC blog was created via Wordpress.com – a free blog tool. FLC’s blog touches on a wide range of areas
such as; tutor tips, training summaries, grant opportunities, reports from the field and related information for
literacy programs, administrators and volunteer tutors. Each post is up to 250 words and usually includes
graphics and hyperlinks to websites relevant to the posting. The blog serves the added benefit of driveling
traffic to the FLC Resource Center website.

Project Rationale and Background:

LCMC Blogs
LCMC realized that a number of students and tutors have access to and use the Internet on a regular basis.

While the LCMC website serves its purpose, it is difficult to update on a regular basis. Conversely, the blogs are easy to modify and allow for more interaction between the organization and visitors.

LCMC initially promoted the blogs to students and tutors with email blasts to launch the blog March 19, and
LCMC did much of the same to drive traffic to the sites consistently. LCMC uses Blogger.com’s free blog
services/templates for the blogs.

FLC Blogs
The Florida Literacy Coalition (FLC) initially created its blog to promote and market the annual Florida Literacy
Conference. It served this purpose so well that FLC decided to expand the focus of the blog beyond the
conference and continue it as an ongoing service. The initial response has been very promising with the blog
doubling its participation over the last three months. In addition to complimenting FLC’s website, the blog acts
as a source for cross-promotion with its other social media outlets include Facebook and Twitter.

Challenges:

LCMC Blogs
The primary challenges include:
1. Having enough time to create and maintain the blog
2. Introducing our tutors and students to take advantage of this resource

FLC Blog
Maintaining the FLC blog is time consuming. Posts are created 2-3 times each month depending on what’s going on with events, trainings, industry nuances, guest bloggers, etc… FLC wants to post more often with more resources, but more bloggers would be necessary.

Evidence of Impact and Effectiveness:

LCMC Blogs
Most feedback has come from comments on the blog, including direct comments from tutors saying they are
using the information and resources provided.

The blog that gets the most interaction/number of visitors is the tutor blog.

FLC Blog
Viewership of the FLC blog has grown. The blog launched in early April 2010, as a means to market the
Florida Literacy Conference. The blog was marketed via eblasts, social media outlets, the FLC website and
FLC staff email signature blocks. Initial viewers per day averaged between 15-20 the first two weeks and
gradually increased as the conference approached (May 6). Viewership spiked the week before the
conference to 50-60 each day.

Since the conference, the blog’s content has included content about literacy in general – not conferencespecific.
Interaction, via comments from viewers, as guest bloggers have contributed posts to the blog. This
tool has been a great way to share training synopsis and resources with literacy program providers.
Viewership has increased to average 20-25 viewers each day. While this number is small compared to the
number of visits that FLC’s website receives, it does provide an opportunity to have an interactive experience
for those who would like to comment or pose questions on different topics. FLC is hoping that a sense of
community will evolve among regular readers and contributors.

Reports generated by Wordpress.com also allow us to see what phrases people are inputting in search
engines (Google, Yahoo!, etc...) and click on a link to the FLC blog. The most common are “literacy
conference,” “literacy training” and “literacy professional development.” This is a great indicator as to what our
target audiences are looking for and what our posts should discuss. Other useful components of the
Wordpress reporting system includes referring sites (where our visitors come from), which posts are most
popular/frequently viewed, and visitor averages for the week and month.

Words of Advice:

LCMC
It might be a good idea before your blog is published to do a marketing campaign to students and tutors letting
them know its coming.

FLC
Determine if a blog is the right tool for your organization. Plan it out – how will this be useful to your organization and your audience? How will you market it? Do you have the time to update it regularly? How will its contents vary from your website? Blogs are free and easy to set-up, much like social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…); however, blogs are time consuming. Make sure you have the time and staff resources to maintain it.

Costs and Funding:

LCMC Blogs
There are no costs for blog materials. The only “costly” item needed it time.

FLC Blog
No costs were necessary to establish the blog, nor are costs required to maintain the blog. FLC’s AmeriCorps*
VISTA member currently maintains the blog and actively recruits guest bloggers. Time spent maintaining and
marketing the blog, and analyzing the blog stats equates to approx. 2 hours per week.

Resources:

Free blog sites:

 

 

 

 

 

Ambassadors

The Florida Literacy Coalition thanks the Florida
Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education
for making this site possible.
 

.Florida Literacy Coalition
..235 Maitland Ave. S #102

Maitland, FL 32751
..Phone: (407)-246-7110
..Fax: (407)-246 - 7104

Florida Literacy Hotline
(800) - 237 - 5113