Educational institutes increasingly rely on portals to share information and keep parents updated on their child’s school activities. Numerous research and surveys indicate that students perform better when there is continuous support from educators and parents in their learning journey. Generally, parents log in to the portals, retrieve some information – which tends to be mostly one-way, and it somewhat ends there. In some cases, parents have difficulties logging in because they have forgotten their usernames and passwords because these days, educational institutions have the option of disseminating such information through the Short Messaging Service (SMS) straight to their mobile phones. This begs the question, are parents perpetuating the “factory process” of going in, taking information and then getting out? Where exactly is the educational aspect of the communication?
With the kind of provisions that Learning Management Softwares (LMS) are offering these days, the true purpose of educational technologies can be surfaced and brought to life, instead of using such systems as repositories of one-way information or announcements.
At the DAS, it is understood that as the expansion of technology continues to grow, the capabilities for connecting parents to the classroom activities and their child’s progress will continue to expand. Here are some suggestions from the Main Literacy Programme’s (MLP) Edtech Team on ways to get connected on a deeper level as much as possible:
1. Meaningful Partnership Between Parents and Educators
Information that parents and/or educators think can deepen the conversations at home regarding the student’s progress that is happening in the classroom will only help improve the learning of the child and elevate the level of support and guidance they receive from both parents and educators. The web levels the playing field that we all have access information anytime and this should be taken advantage of. Parents and educators can share tips, journals and materials that they are reading, blog about interests and observations about the learning journey the students and/or children are going through. Parents should also explore the use of “Web 2.0” technologies and move away from using them in the “1.0” ways. Educators, on the other hand, can share what is happening in their classrooms and provide parents with the platform to share their expertise and knowledge in easy and meaningful ways, in areas such as behaviour management, follow up of activities and revision at home. Some useful platforms include Flipboard, messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, Messenger and sharing platforms such as social media (which is discussed in the next point)!
At the DAS MLP Programme, our Educational Therapists regularly update parents through emails, text messages or even face to face discussions on the students’ behaviours, progress and development. The therapists explain to parents the activities that took place at specific times and how these activities can be extended. Mobile applications and strategies are also shared with parents during such communications.
2. Get Social
The rise of social media and its infiltration into our daily lives has not only added fun to our lives but also made communication easier, as compared to grandiose systems that are complicated to use. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest simplifies communication by adding elements of online presence and providing the anytime, anywhere setting that tears down most almost all formal structures of typical parent-teacher conversations. They also make sharing easier without having to even type messages; yet are equally easy to start a conversation on that post.
The MLP Team also leverages on Facebook to share useful bite-sized tips and strategies for busy parents who prefer information on the go. Some of our recent posts include 12 Tech Days of Christmas and Personal Stories. Parents can easily post comments, or simply add emoticons to such articles.
3. Chat About Particular Activities
For parents, the highlight of award ceremonies is the students; not the educators. Likewise, educators can highlight to parents work done by their children or even a gallery of classwork done so that parents can get to see the various masterpieces and thus be more engaged in the chosen avenue of discussion. For instance, it may be difficult to get parents on board a platform that they are not familiar with i.e.: Google+ but the more the educator shares materials on the chosen platform, there would be greater buy-in from the parents. It is also key to highlight the good work done, either collectively or individually so that it is more meaningful for parents to look at the work done by the students instead of posting brief text descriptions of what was done that day in class.
The DAS is working on Learning Management System where students’ works can be digitally showcased and parents can look forward to another platform for increased engagement and involvement in the learning journeys of their children. The system will also make payment matters, attendance, communication and other information available to parents anytime, any day and anywhere!
Written by Soofrina Mubarak, Senior Educational Therapist
More about DAS Educational Technology here