- Mike Daugherty, technology and information systems director at Ohio's Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools, shares with District Administration his experience with ways to keep parents connected during new technology rollouts.
- When his school district first rolled out a 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative, students, teachers and administrators adapted quickly to new ways of communicating and giving and receiving instruction; however, parents, especially of students in grades 3-8, felt out of the loop since they were no longer receiving regular paper communications.
- To address the issue, the school district ramped up efforts at parental communication, first through a regular newsletter regarding tech issues. Then, they promoted an effort to have students regularly send emails to parents updating them on what they are learning, and sharing digital artifacts of their work and special projects. Finally, preparing an “ed tech conference” for parents this fall will be a way to let them experience school technology at the point of instruction.
Innovation is driving education. For most students, teachers and administrators, changes — especially in technology — are a matter of course. As new ed tech appears on the horizon, new programs become available and new apps are launched, school leaders and teachers are eager to find new ways to engage students and make learning easier and more relevant.
However, parents often feel out of the loop. As students bring home new devices to use for homework or throw around terms like “Moodle” and “Kahoot!,” some parents are sure to feel even more alienated from the educational process. Parents who are used to seeing paper homework assignments and physically signing off on information may also feel uninformed if they are not familiar with new communication platforms that schools use, or if they do not have easy access to technology. Since strong parent-school partnerships are a key factor in student achievement, finding ways to keep parents informed is important.
The irony is that most new technology used in education is designed to ease communication, especially for busy parents, and can help them become more connected than ever before. However, parents need to be brought up to date about new school initiatives, familiarized with new classroom technology, and trained in accessing the information they need to stay informed about their child’s progress and school events. Including parents in the process can also make rolling out new initiatives smoother. In addition, communication with parents can enlist them as allies in the process, so they can help students as they study or face tech-related issues at home.