As technology continues to evolve, so should parent communication. Schools and their teachers have a great opportunity to enhance communication and parent engagement by utilizing available technology tools. Here are a few tools that can help teachers and schools communicate more effectively and increase parent engagement.
- Social Media: Social media is a great way to disseminate information, exhibit, and share student work as well as enhance parent-teacher communication.
– Facebook Groups: Allow you to limit membership to only those you approve. With a Facebook group teachers can keep parents informed, distribute homework or permission slips, and share photos or videos from classroom activities or field trips.
– Blogs:Many teachers are now using blogs to keep parents and students informed about homework, test dates and to get a snapshot of what students will be learning throughout the year.
- Mobile Apps
Mobile apps are increasingly gaining acceptance as a medium of communication between parents and teachers. Mobile app usage has increased by 63 percent over the last couple of years and is being used by millions of teachers, parents, and students. There are now apps out there specifically designed to increase engagement in school communities and enhance parent-teacher communication.
- Video Podcasts
Involve parents in their child’s education with an occasional live video podcasts of class activities. This can give parents a first-hand account of how the class operates, how students behave and what improvements may be needed to make the class better. This type of technology can be complicated, and there are a couple of things you should take into consideration before implementing. Setting up a video capture system and transmitting it to all parents can be difficult, considering individual technological aptitude. Also, even when videos are only shared with classroom parents, you may still get some objections from some parents and students due to privacy issues. Souncloud, Vocaroo, and AudioBoo are a few tools you can use to create podcasts.
- Live Chats
Live chats and video conferencing with parents is a good way to make yourself easily accessible to everyone that may not be able to meet in person. There is a plethora of video enhanced chat options. Now you can avoid most schedule clashes and be available to those who may have a difficult time traveling by setting up a convenient time to meet online. There are even tools that allow multiple participants to communicate with one another to share ideas in live online collaboration sessions. This could be a great tool for Parent Teacher Association committees. Skype in the Classroom is a good tool to begin your live chats and video conferencing.
This tool is the least “social” and also a more common practice throughout many school systems. Student portals allow parents to see grade information throughout the semester. This practice usually results in more relevant follow-up sessions, keeping the parents in the loop throughout the process. Many of the student portal systems and features can now be integrated into mobile apps allowing parents to have access to this information in the palm of their hand.
Although some still don’t have access to technology, they are very few as 91 percent of adults on a smartphone. Mobile devices allow parents to use all of the technology discussed to be involved in their child’s education no matter where they are. Do you use technology to keep parents in the loop? Feel free to share some of your practices.