Why do schools produce yearbooks in the FaceBook era?

A grand tradition at the end of an academic year in schools is signing Yearbooks. The number of signatures you wanted garner appeared to rise the closer you were to finishing high school.

A yearbook isn’t just a book.

It’s a form of emotional closure at the end of adolescence.

Yet that wave of finishing school-induced sentimentality quickly disappears. At present, I have no idea where my high school yearbooks are. If I was to open them up, I suspect I would no idea who a large number of the faces and names are from nearly 20 years ago.

As a teacher, I know that Yearbooks suck up a lot of time. Writing up various events, the craziness that is the week school photos are taken as various kids are pulled out of classes for formal group shots to put in the YearBook. That’s valuable learning time sucked up.

Is the end result worth it?

Everyone’s experience of school is different. Yet yearbooks are not personalised – everyone gets the same document. However, the further away from school you get the less you want to know about the chess club if you didn’t play chess or what the Year 13s were doing if you were in Year 7. But those were all documented for you in your Yearbook. After 12+ years at school, that’s a lot of excess memories to be hauling around.

In this era of FaceBook, why do schools bother producing Yearbooks?

Schools now have some sort of social media presence where updates can be published in a few seconds. Teachers have access to a digital camera through their phone. Which begs the questionare Yearbooks still relevant in the digital era?

A few years ago my class produced a DVD Yearbook as a money-making scheme. Even though individuals were still getting a generic copy of their school year, they could burn the relevant content only keeping what was necessary.

Technology has moved on. DVDs are quickly becoming obsolete.

At a time of year where emotions are running high – many want the comfort of a physical copy. But

But here’s where social media can help.

Last year one of my class parents organised a class Yearbook – it’s a lot smaller but also a lot more personalised. Because I choose to document my class‘s learning on Flickr, there was a treasure trove of content arranged by school event. Parents in my class would often flick through their photos from extra-curricular events further adding to the class pool. 

Over the year, the kids curated their own album as well. As a result, the process was a matter of getting my Year 4s to select a few photos from their albums and a few from me and the class yearbook was ready to be printed. 

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I’m sure some crafty app developer is already working on a Yearbook app. Parents and students could search school Facebook feeds and select their own personal memories to augment their own photos. The book could then be printed into a smaller scale book to be signed at the end of the year.

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4 thoughts on “Why do schools produce yearbooks in the FaceBook era?

  1. Love the idea of personalised yearbooks! However, can I put in a plug for the school yearbook as a historical document? We often have staff, current students, and old boys come to the school library to look up information or verify facts in our old yearbooks. Would this still be possible with personalised versions? Or would some of the significant events be lost if they were not deemed interesting enough by students or parents?

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      • In NZ there are laws requiring schools to archive certain school records – not sure if the yearbook falls under those. However, all publications in NZ are required to send two copies to Legal Deposit. School yearbooks do fall under this law so these are archived by the National Library of New Zealand. Not sure about your current neck of the woods though!

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