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15 Tips on Engaging Parents in a Technology Enriched Classroom

April 28, 2012

So I have been thinking, there is a plethora of ideas and resources circulating for using technology in the classroom to engage students. However, what happens outside of the classroom is equally important. Generation Y students are technically savvy, but are their parents?

Leithwood et al. ( in press) discuss four paths that influence children’s learning: 1) the emotional path, 2) the rational path, 3) the organizational path, and 4) the family path.  According to  Kenneth Leithwood et al., of these four paths the family path can have as much as 50% to 80% of a direct influence on children’s’ learning.

However, the parents’ of generation Y are not necessarily as technically savvy as their children. Matter of fact, there are those from the Baby Boomer generation, and even Generation X that fear technology (Coates, 2006). Therefore, this leaves the question, as to what can school leaders and educators do to help bring parents of our new generation up to speed. However, the goal should be not only to bring parents up to speed, but to involve and engage parents in their children’s’ learning process.  From my own experience and research, here are the top 15 tips for reaching out and engaging parents in a technology enriched learning experience for their children.

  1. Collect parents emails (and phone numbers for texts) at the beginning of the semester.
  2. Be personal, send a personalized note and email to parents at the beginning of the school year. Say something positive & personal about their child and invite them to the class website, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, blogs or Glogsters, Google Docs & Calendar, ect.
  3. Send frequent emails to parents (weekly) with updates on their child’s progress. In these emails, give additional resources that the parent and child can check out together. Tailor these resources to the child’s specific learning needs or interests.
  4. Appoint a school liaison with expertise in social media to help and train parents; make this liaison accessible to parents!
  5. Set up training sessions to teach parents how to use some of the most popular social media platforms in the classroom (have these sessions include the parents and children)!
  6. Send out a survey to find out what special talents parents might have in relation to technology and social media and assign these parents special tasks to help with the class technology projects.
  7. Help parents set up a technology and social media support group, where they can learn from each other!
  8. Encourage feedback from parents with surveys and polls.
  9. Send parents home digital stories of a classroom project or even one where their own child is highlighted! They do not need to be long, just engaging…stories are what bring people together!
  10. Share photographs with parents of their children and the classroom!
  11. Set up a community effort to promote social media and technology in the classroom and assign the parents tasks!
  12. Form a task force with parents that lobbies for increased technology and social media platforms for use in the school. Administrators, just like the parents are often afraid of the technology, let them see the benefits of classroom technology through the eyes and voices of the parents.
  13. Set up a training that teaches parents and children together Netiquette. I would suggest this becomes part of the classroom contract. Post netiquette examples on the classroom sites and even share great examples of netiquette from parents and students!
  14. Teach parents how to protect their children on the web – this will help ease a lot of the parents’ fears and hesitations.
  15. Finally, be consistent in the use of the technology, communication, outreach, and sharing! The most successful social media accounts are the ones that are updated regularly, hook the parents and they will spread their enthusiasm to their children.

Here are some additional resources for engaging parents in the technology-enriched classroom:

Tech Tools for Parent Engagement

Tips for Engaging Parents this School Year

Untapped Resource? Engaging Parents in the Learning Process

A Teacher’s Guide to Generation X Parents

Using technology to engage parents + children

Our School.ca: Connecting parents and schools using technology

Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey – K-12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital Learning

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