Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Using Technology In The Classroom? Keep Parents In Mind

I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day. We got to talking about parents and the struggle he was having getting them to realize that all these social media tools and Web 2.0 tools were worth the time and effort the teachers were spending to enhance learning in the classroom. So I asked, what had he done to get the parents involved in the conversation?

It seems simple but parents have to be involved in that conversation. School is different now than it was 5, 10, 20 years ago. And (for good reason) the use of technology in the classroom, including social media and Web 2.0 gets questioned. How does that help kids read better? How does that help them do math better? Again, all valid questions but sometimes parents who question the methods or the reasons why are seen as bothersome or trying to get in the way. And maybe for some, that is the case but I would guess that the questions arise from a misunderstanding.

So what is the solution?

I dunno?

Do I have an idea?

Sure do.

Anytime a teacher wants to use Twitter, Voicethread, whatever the tool, bring them in (if you can), record a video, communicate somehow, the answers to these 3 questions:

What are you using? Again, it sounds simple but you've got to communicate what tool you are using. How it works. Are the parents going to have access to the student work? What will they be able to see? This is all the technical stuff. The depth to which you go is up to you. If you can bring them, take the time to teach them how to use the program.

Why are you using it? You've got to communicate to the parents the purpose of the use of the tool. How does it fit with the content? Explaining why you are going to use it will help you determine for yourself, the best pedagogy for the technology and how it will fit into your teaching. That, in turn, helps the parents to understand the same.

How does the use of this tool enhance student learning? The most important question to answer. How will the use of this ultimately make learning better. Why will the use of this tool be good for kids?

You've got to build those bridges with parents. The easiest way is to bring them in and tell them whats going on. Better yet, let the kids teach their parents.

The point is, parents need to have that buy-in. They need to understand wthe technology choices you are making in your class.

What are you doing to help parents understand how technology works in your classroom? Leave some ideas below. 

photo credit: Knight Foundation via photopin cc
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