School Digital Yearbook in a Social Way

A Compilation from several photos on Flickr

Brenda and I had dinner last night with some dear friends from my teaching days, back in the 1970s and ’80s. Frank and Karen Braswell both graduated from college around the same time that we did, majoring in technology education at Appalachian State University (archrival of mine and Brenda’s alma mater, Western Carolina University — “Go Catamounts”).

Karen was a graphic artist for an ad agency in Charlotte, where Brenda worked as a bookkeeper. We drifted apart when Brenda and I moved to Roxboro and to Raleigh. Meanwhile, Frank built up an innovative printing company and Karen joined Bojangles as art director (I think that was the title). After many years Karen burned out on the corporate world and was recently hired by an innovative middle school principal. He seems to have been looking for an outside the box approach to teaching the school’s technology course.

Karen and I have had numerous conversations about her teaching, specifically how she should rely on her experience as an art department director more than her notions of what a teacher is supposed to be/do. Some pretty interesting ideas have resulted from these conversations usually about making her classroom operate more like a workplace than a traditional classroom, where her learners engage in a more “on-the-job” fashion of learning.

Last night, we built up the following idea, in response to her principals desire for a digital yearbook.

Rather than establishing a class or club as responsible for collection, selection, laying out and publishing of the yearbook, based on some Josten supplied template, they would set up a social network for the school. It would be designed as a place where student interaction would generate the content that they would need for the yearbook. Students would create and maintain their own profiles, with pictures, favorite classes, etc, and then comment on each other’s profile. They would then select the content and comments to be included in the yearbook.

Students would earn points (coin, gold, permissions, whatever) by contributing to each other profiles, earn even more points when their contributions are chosen by the profile owner for inclusion in the yearbook.

The students in Karen’s class would manage the social network like a company, setting policy, policing the site, adding and removing features.  At the end of the year, they would extract student flagged elements from the profiles and combine them in a digital yearbook, which would be burned to a CD, or DVD (with optional print versions, available through an on-demand book printing service).

So what do you think?

12 thoughts on “School Digital Yearbook in a Social Way”

  1. I’d be very interested to know what kind of software, both creation and social you plan on using. And I’d like to know how it works out, what the students/parents thought of it, and what the problems were in doing it.

    This could be a very good test case for the future of “yearbooks.”

    1. HI Robert,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We’re looking at the Adobe CS5 Design Suite and Ning as the social network.

  2. I agree with Courtenmanche. Am very interested in knowing more details…software, sample policies, etc. Love the idea and would be something new for the students.

    1. Hi Debbi,
      Thanks for your comment and interest in our yearbook “challenge.”
      Still working out some of the details but looking at the Adobe CS5 design suite for creative and production. Michael suggestion of Joomia is a good idea but it just won’t produce the desired quality level.

      Thanks to all for your comments. Will keep you posted as we move forward. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

  3. SpryBook may be an easier tool for teachers, as well as students, to create an interactive digital yearbook. It allows students to upload all their media to their profile without the need to create pages just yet. The description portion/comments of the uploaded media would be the place where comments can be entered.
    To create the interactive yearbook pages, simply select one of the provided templates (slideshows, gallery, list (where it will automatically display the media and the description portion of the media), articles, etc.). The background image or color of the pages can also be change. The digital yearbook can be previewed at any time using the preview tab. Get a free trial at and check if this is perfect for your requirement.

  4. This is a great idea. I did yearbook in high school and learn a lot about layout and design. I was dismayed to see how yearbook is done now, with pre generated layouts that are more about yearbook company convenience and less about teaching students design. Good luck and keep us updated

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