It's the start of a new Religious School year and you want to do something to start the year with a bang. It would be good to find a way to help parents and children meet the teachers right away. And it's always nice to use new technology to show that the synagogue is moving with the times. These were some of the aims as we embarked on a new project at The Community Synagogue.
It was on the Darim Social Media Success Stories webinar series that I saw the way that Rabbi Rebecca Milder had used social media and QR codes for displaying the work of their students. It got me thinking about the ways that we could use QR codes in our own synagogue community.
The idea was to record videos of all of our teachers with a welcome message to the new students introducing themselves and sharing their excitement for the forthcoming school year. These videos would be available through our website. But the primary way in which we intended to share them was via posters in the lobby of the synagogue, with QR codes linking to all of the videos.
We registered with www.qrstuff.com as I had seen them recommended by Rabbi David Gerber on another Darim webinar. For a small fee this service provided us with analytics for each code we created and also gave us the potential to subsequently change the web page to which the QR Code was linked.
Next came the videos. Teachers who were technologically able filmed their own and the rest we recorded using iPhones. While I am sure we could have made better quality recordings with a more sophisticated camera, for the short 20-30 second clips the iPhone was sufficient. All of the clips were uploaded to YouTube and filed as 'unlisted' so that there was some degree of privacy. We then embedded all of the videos onto individual pages on our website, so that the QR codes would direct people to our website rather than YouTube.
By the first day of Religious School we had 31 videos, all but one of our teachers was happy to be a part of the project. Each teacher had their own section on a poster which included their picture, the classes they were teaching and the QR code to watch their video. These were mounted together onto 6 poster boards and displayed in the synagogue lobby as people made their way into the sanctuary for the opening of school. We also printed out a few sheets with information on how to use QR codes and to download a QR scanner.
There was one line to register new students and there was another line to scan the codes and watch the welcome videos, with a real sense of excitement about the new display. It was great to watch as parents and children met their teachers 'virtually' before meeting in person later that morning.
We've continued to display the boards in the lobby to give people further opportunities to scan the codes and watch the videos. We have had well over 100 scans of the QR codes by parents and children of the synagogue, and it's been a great way for the community to get to know one another.