Colin's Sandbox

Goal Seven: Parents and Community

Technology has enabled interested parents to keep connected with their students’ classroom in more ways than ever thought possible, much further beyond the availability of student grades online via a student information system such as PowerSchool.  These tools offer the promise of a more connected students and parents at the expense at the outset of learning new workflows and the inherent commitment to follow through with communication through this medium on a regular basis once you get started.

Organizing Class Materials Online

Learning Management Systems (LMS), such Moodle and Blackboard, continue to serve as a logical step into bringing a class into the online world.  Most everything surrounding a class can be connected together via a LMS, from class announcements, course syllabus, assignment submissions, class forums, and unit resources can all be organized within an LMS.  Lately we have seen a push from educators to leverage resources that their audience, students and their parents, use on a daily basis.  Tools such as Google PlusTwitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or many other social media can be used to connect the classroom to news streams that many already use without having to log into a separate website to access the information.   Many blog frameworks such as Google Blogger and WordPress provide the functionality to post updates via these social networks, alleviating the burden on the teacher from having to spend time cross-posting class information on multiple networks manually.

One concern with using online methods to reach out to parents: making sure important class information is accessible to all students and parents.  If you choose to put information about class assignments or upcoming events out on the web via an LMS, blog, or other social media, you have to keep in mind that not all students (or their parents) have equal access to the Internet.  Parents may need to be kept informed through more traditional notification means such as email and even paper handouts.

Creating an Inclusive Technology Planning Process

In order to receive funds through the federal “Schools and Libraries” program, better known as “E-Rate”, a qualifying institution must typically have a technology plan submitted to and approved by the state.  I learned of the importance of including all stakeholders in our EDET670 “Planning for Educational Technology” class, and this should include student, parent, and community involvement in order to ensure that all voices are present in the final document.  A great area for parent and community involvement in this process are the domains of online safety, students’ digital footprints, and topics of media literacy.  These topics and more were the subject of the course I took part in, the Digital Citizenship MOOC (massive open online community) led by Dr. Jason Ohler.  So many options to guide students and parents through the oft-tread but seldom understood waters of cyberbullying and digital citizenship are available through resources like Commonsense Media, Nancy Willard’s Embrace Civility site, not to mention the Digital Citizenship MOOC resources page.

Goals and Standards

University of Alaska Southeast School of Education Standards, Education Technology, Goal 7

a. develop a sound, broad-based understanding of learners’ families and the local communities. (K)
b. communicate effectively with parents and community members to and incorporate local ways of knowing into decision making about all levels of schooling.
c. recognize the school as an integral part of the community and value families and community members as partners in promoting learning (D)

ISTE Standards for Coaches (2011)

1c. Advocate for policies, procedures, programs, and funding strategies to support implementation of the shared vision represented in the school and district technology plans and guidelines
3g. Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community
5b. Model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal, and ethical uses of digital information and technologies
5c. Model and promote diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness by using digital-age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents, and the larger community

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