Share Your Story
Once you get going, sharing the story of what your group does has several benefits.
First, kids get a kick out of seeing how many Youtube views you can get. Second, it helps you to get in touch with a variety of people who you wouldn't be connected to otherwise, which opens doors for more opportunities. Third, publicizing your Linux club brings in more support and donations from outside your school. Finally, sharing your story brings your school positive publicity, and school administrators love that.
Some of the things we have done to tell the world our story are:
Stories in local news media Over the years, our Linux clubs have been the focus of several different stories in local new media. This not only generates good publicity for the schools (administrators love that), but it also helped to helped to encourage computer donations to the clubsWe contacted local television and print media about our kids using Linux to recycle computers for needy families, and some of them were interested enough to run stories about us. Here are a few examples:
-- Savage Pacer December 2020: Aspen Academy Wins STEM Innovation Award
-- MPR News September 2020: Students step in to refurbish computers as school needs rise
-- KSTP TV News September 2020: Middle school students’ tech skills help others learn from home
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune October 2018: St. Paul's Asian Penguins schooled in shrinking the digital divide
-- St. Paul Pioneer Press March 2016: Hmong charter school’s computer club refurbishes laptops for all
-- KARE 11 TV News in May 2013: 'Asian Penguins' bridge digital divide for St. Paul families
Youtube Both clubs sought to chronicle what they do through video and, as a result, started their own YouTube channels. The two channels, put together, have gotten over 24,000 views and have been seen in all 50 states and in over 100 countries. Here are the links to both:
-- Penguin Corps YouTube Channel
-- Asian Penguins YouTube Channel
Stories in online tech media From time to time, I have been asked to write articles about school Linux clubs for a different online technology publications. I have also been the subject of articles and have been interviewed for tech stories by many different tech journalists. Each article had the potential to further the reach of the clubs, but to also further the reach of the idea itself. Here are a few examples:
Articles by me:
-- Student Linux club refurbishes computers to support distance learning (Opensource.com)
-- Open Source, Open Hearts (EdTEch Digest)
-- The Asian Penguins (OSSEC Open Source Magazine)
-- Diversity enriches middle school Linux user group (Opensource.com)
Articles and interviews by others:
-- The Asian Penguins by Bryan Lunduke (Linux Journal)
-- Asian Penguins turn program into a Linux success by Don Watkins (Opensource.com)
-- ANTHOLOGY – Hacker Stories From OSCON, All Things Open, and Node Interactive by Adam Stacoviak (Changlog Podcast)
Social media Chances are your school has social media accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and probably a few other networks. If you give your school’s communications person news and photos of your Linux club, it will give this person content to distribute and get positive publicity for your school. Everybody wins. Please note: your school probably has rules about how and when staff can post things regarding school activities to their personal social media accounts. Make sure you know what those rules are.
A brochure A brochure is a great way to give people a resource about your club with brief information, photos, and contact information.
T-shirts T-shirts are not only a way to raise funds for your club. They are also “walking billboards” which advertise your club.
Stickers Yes, really. Stickers! Kids love stickers and some stickers with your club’s name and logo on them will take your club’s image to places you may not get to. We've even sent stickers to be given away at events we didn't attend.
A website The Asian Penguins started a website to make sure we had a place that had the news about the club, as well as a place to document what the we were doing for the future. Here is the link to our website: Asian Penguins
Educational and technology conferences Over the past eight years, the Asian Penguins and the Penguin Corps have had the opportunity to present at educational and technology conferences to tell our story. We've done this both in person and over the internet. This is a great way to network with other professionals. This also gives your students the opportunity to apply leadership and practice public speaking skills, as they will be doing most of the talking. Because of the move to virtual conferences, you may find (like we did) that there are more speaking opportunities than you and your students will have time to do!
This is one of our students speaking at DrupalCon North America, where the Penguin Corps was selected to deliver the keynote address on the final day:
-- Ethan - Why Have an Open Source Club?
Here is something to keep in mind when doing anything with media: for liability purposes, you MUST have a media release form for each kid in your club, so that you can use photos and video of them. Many schools handle a media release form for students as part of the enrollment process. But in the both the Asian Penguins and the Penguin Corps, just to be sure, we made a point of having our own.
Also, if at all possible, get the kids involved in putting together the material you put online. This way, they have a greater ownership of the whole project, and you have less work to do.