Building Community through BLEND


Today’s Contributor: Christy Cochran

Christy Cochran is the National Board Certified Librarian and Campus Innovation Coach at Murchison MS. Brad Clark is the Principal of Murchison MS.


At Murchison, we’ve made a commitment to get fully on board with BLEND, and have found several ways to not only model our expectations for our staff, but give everyone in our community an opportunity to use it, learn how it works, and interact with the BLEND learning management system. We have provided a one-stop-shop for parents, students, and staff.

We began by spending some time deciding what is covered by our publicly-accessed website, and what information we want solely for our Murchison community. The more static items and the items of interest to those who are looking to move to Austin will remain on our school website. Information that is more dynamic and personal to the day-to-day operations of our school have been moved over to the BLEND Community Course. As the image shows below, these are the access points we have established in Murchison’s Course.

Our 411 covers items like: list of apps to help build student success (Canvas & TEAMS included), bell schedule, communication policy, counseling tiers of intervention, office staff assignments, and IB basics. Matador Matters is our weekly communication from our Principal. Our SEL link gives a weekly overview of our SEL focus for the week, as well as questions from our SEL Advisory circle that our parents may use to further conversations at home.

We also sat down with our PTA President and PTA Website Chair and talked about how they can have a presence in our Community Course. We have names and emails listed to connect people to our PTA Executive Board, we have a page dedicated to the Matador Mail (PTA President’s weekly announcements), we list ways parents can volunteer, and we have a link to our online student/family directory. As mentioned on our Home Page for the course, we are constantly updating and evolving the course – taking suggestions and feedback from students, faculty, and parents/guardians to meet the needs of our Community.

Due to the limitations of interactivity for our parents as Course Observers, we are utilizing Google Forms and external links to Google Docs to provide an avenue for community conversations. The first one we are working on is a BLEND FAQ form that is specific to answering questions posed by Murchison community members. Here’s a screencast from the Community Course: MMS BLEND FAQs Screencast

Another way to get daily interaction with our community is to post Daily Announcements based on information students typically receive during school. Daily announcements are pushed out through the announcements feature and have the benefit of being emailed to all 3000+ members of our community. With that said, we are cautious in using the announcement feature so we don’t end up spamming our users’ inboxes.

We are still looking for ways to get our students involved and provide them with more access points. One such example is the link to the Murchison Calendar. Our AVID students were perusing the Community Course in class and recommended we add a button that leads directly to our calendar of school events. Their voice matters. Our ultimate goal is to support District initiatives and use our BLEND Community Course as a knowledge portal to further the communication and interactions of our greater Murchison Community.

6 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! What a great resources for other campuses who are thinking about setting up campus community courses!

  2. I am so excited to see this resource, and I have no doubt that the Murchison parents will increasingly find this to be essential! Thanks so much for your work on this, Christy! Fantastic model for other campuses as well.

  3. This is incredible! What kinds of feedback are you getting from your community about this as a resource for them?

  4. Wow Christy!!! This is awesome! How many people where on the team to help create this and how long did it take? Did you have any parents or students to help as well? I am wondering as Erin asked what feedback have you received from your community? It never ceases to amaze me how you think outside the box and take learning a step further!

    1. I am wondering this too. I have been asked to make something but the sustainability worries me. I feel like I will need a team to keep improving and making engaging content. Thanks for posting this to help me get started though.

  5. Good job reaching out to the PTA. I wonder how athletics or extra curricular groups would respond if I reached out to them. I feel like if we want to make Blend a viable engagement tool we’ll need to get everyone involved. Thank you for sharing and your inspiration.

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