International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 3
3. Model digital age work and learning – Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.
c. Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats.
Program Standard 7
7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.
7.1 Element – Communicating with Families
7.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.
Engendering a sense of community in classrooms is such an important part of student success and technology can be a great way to help busy parents become more connected with their child’s learning. The International Society for Technology in Education recognizes communication as an important part of teaching and in their third standard encourages educators to find meaningful ways to use technology in this endeavor. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I researched how to use technology to communicate relevant information and ideas to students, parents, and peers to engender a sense of community in the classroom and to seamlessly connect adults with their child’s learning environment. This will be an important aspect of my future teaching because I believe that home life greatly affects academic success and that bringing the two together can improve how students approach learning. Many parents would like to be more involved in their child’s education but simply do not have the time to physically participate in the classroom. Technology is a way to bridge the gap between a student’s school and home life in a meaningful way.
Schools are starting to use web portals, social media platforms, blogs, and apps to keep parents constantly updated on their child’s learning. In fact, these kinds of web 2.0 tools have become so prevalent that they are becoming the standard in many schools. “They have become commonplace technologies that support social networking with peers, teachers, families, and friends” (McPherson & Blue, 2012, p. 2373). Teachers now have more resources like edmodo.com, edublogs.org, and kidblog.org which are specifically designed for use in the classroom. They can now set up websites and classroom blogs on platforms expressly intended as a safe space where students can create and post content. Parents can easily access classroom calendars, upcoming events, and student projects all in real time. This kind of networking has the potential to make parents more involved in their child’s education. While websites and blogs are a great way for parents to see what is happening in the classroom, apps can be a great way for them to receive individual notifications about their child. This can be especially helpful for parents who need to be able to quickly reference information on the go. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article describing several free apps that help teachers communicate with parents. All of the apps described in that article allow parents to receive updates from teachers directly to their mobile devices. Two of most interesting apps discussed are called BuzzMob and Collaborize Classroom because they integrate full classroom websites with a convenient companion app that can be accessed by teachers and parents on their phones or tablets (McCrea, 2013). All of these resources have the potential to connect parents to their child’s school and classroom in ways never previously conceivable.
However, it is important to remember that sole reliance on this kind of communication can alienate some families. Teachers must be mindful of that fact that some families do not have access to technology or the internet in their homes. So if technology becomes the dominant way that teachers communicate with parents it may create an even greater divide between home and school for some students. Technology should be used to help teachers offer parents a vast array of contact options and each family’s personal needs and preferences should be taken into account. Some school districts are trying to help parents by creating technology centers and by offering technology training to them. With the ever-increasing demand for technology skills to be taught in schools it can only benefit students if their parents have a level of fluency in the subject matter as well. Other school districts are not only training parents on how to use computers but also checking out laptops or tablets to families. These schools understand that along with the technology families also need to be able to access the internet and are helping them apply for it at reduced rates. One administrator is even trying to get free internet access for all of the community members in the district (Fleming, 2012). Nevertheless, many districts cannot afford to help provide families with these kinds of resources so it is important to take individual situations into account and use these resources as supplementary to more standard forms of communication. With the use of technology teachers can reach out to and connect more parents to their child’s education in a meaningful and interactive way.