In order for technology integration in the classroom to be successful, the support and participation of the school community are very much needed.
School leaders train and support their teachers so that they can better prepare themselves as they aim to accomplish the tasks expected of them. Teachers expect full support from administrators as they venture on to something new that would alter the way they teach and connect with students. Students need teacher’s guidance as they use various technological tools during class activities. As students are exposed to a lot of tech products whether inside or outside the classroom, there is a greater need for the school to provide support and guidance to them so that they can manage their tech use, evaluate the information they encounter online, and create the best artefacts of their learning. With this great amount of expectations, the school can surely tap the parents as partners in education.
Parents are important stakeholders in the field of education. They play a crucial role to the academic success of their children. With the greater use of technology tools in our society today, connecting with parents has become more urgent. Of course, it is a known fact that involving parents in the learning of students can be advantageous because parents can build a stronger support system for their children at home. Involving parents would also mean giving them a chance to track the progress of their children in school, making them more aware of what is happening to their children, academically and behaviourally.
So, how can tech tools be used to involve parents more? Here are some tips.
1. Use apps that allow parental access.
Apps such as Edmodo or SeeSaw, among others, allow students and teachers to communicate with each other. Moreover, they also have features that allow students to demonstrate their learning in class. Edmodo has quiz or poll features that can test knowledge easily. SeeSaw has great features that let students express what they learned using various media and curate them in one place. When parents are given access to this kind of home-school communication apps, then the parents are given a more transparent view of the progress of their children.
2. Set-up a class blog or educational website.
Teachers can set-up a class or educational blog that can feature students’ work, announcements, or information needed by the class. Parents may follow this blog and receive updates on class activities or announcements. Plus, showcasing exemplars of student products or projects can also motivate students to do better since their work is being shared to a different set of audience outside the four walls of the classroom.
3. Use notification apps or tools.
The most convenient tools to communicate with parents are readily available. Schools can use email, text alerts, or set-up an official website. These are tried and tested means to get announcements and updates across to parents. Social media apps such as Twitter can also serve as notification or announcement tools.
4. Conduct an open house.
Schools can hold open house activities. Parents may visit or sit in during a class so that they can personally witness how students use mobile devices or tech tools in class. During an open house, empower students through letting them teach their parents on how for example they use a specific app. EdTech open nights is another modification to accommodate parents who are only free at night, especially those who are only available after their work time.
5. Hold Digital Citizenship sessions.
Children’s online safety is an essential task for both the school and parents. Have parents attend and undergo digital citizenship workshops so that they can further understand and learn how to guide and protect their children from unwanted elements online. This is a crucial task for them because, at home, parents are the only ones who can make sure that their children are shielded from cyber bullying, unwanted messages, or any privacy violations.
Some things to consider.
Of course, as much as we want to involve parents in the digital aspect of learning, we must also consider some factors.
First, teachers should be confident with his or her professional dealings with parents. Sometimes, teachers are not comfortable or confident to involve parents further in their class because in reality, there are some parents who demand too much or treat teachers unprofessionally. Unpleasant experiences with parents can also affect teachers’ confidence. Hence, before schools involve parents, school leaders should make sure that teachers are ready to engage with them even through digital means.
Second, not all parents are digitally literate. Some parents might need to learn how to use some apps or some tech tools so that they can participate in the school’s digital program. Empowering parents can also make sure that they are knowledgeable about what their children are using and doing in class. It would be a great challenge if a parent knows nothing about the use of a certain app or tech tool as compared to his or her child, who may go astray from the task assigned. Remember, tools such as iPad may distract students from learning. Offering technology sessions or digital citizenship workshops can empower parents so that they can better protect their children and guide them with how they use tech tools such as tablets.
Last, schools can also set an avenue where the parents can formally communicate and discuss with teachers or school leaders about their observations, feedback, or suggestions about the use of technology in the studies of their children. Giving them the opportunity to dialogue can further improve the technology program of the school since they provide a different perspective that only parents are capable of seeing. Parents should be empowered so that they may understand the reason behind the use technological tools in class. After all, they are also partners of the school in its mission of educating their children.