eConnecting Parents – Opening up the Learning

parents

e-Parents – Connecting Parents

Please note that this is an article written primarily for Parents Victoria who are interested in using technology to connect and have asked for ideas on how technology might be used. Please note:  Our Victorian Education Department has a multi-user license for Blackboard Collaborate and MS Lync.

Technology opens up many doors, flattens classroom walls and enables involvement in learning in innovative ways, many of which are now only being pioneered. Distance, time, cost and effort are no longer barriers to the ability to attend classes, meetings and special events. Connecting, collaborating and communicating can take place anywhere and anytime.

Tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, skype (free tool) and MS Lync; and high definition videoconferencing equipment via eg Polycom mean that parents, teachers and students can attend meetings, lessons and professional development provided there is access to the internet using either a mobile device or fixed hardware. Following are some of the ways that technology could be or have already been used to connect parents:-

All types of online meetings:

Committee meetings -State committee members no longer need to meet in a central location, they can attend the meeting virtually online from the comfort of their home, work place or other appropriate nearby centre, by logging on to a virtual meeting room in Blackboard Collaborate, using a link provided by the moderator.  Alternatively, if Polycom equipment is available at a local school, parents can dial into the room and be part of a meeting via a large monitor, webcamera and microphone.  An app is now available for mobile devices to provide access to both Polycom and Blackboard Collaborate. Both types of virtual meetings can be recorded for members who can attend.

Parent Information EveningsHawkesdale P12 College trialled online nightly parent information meetings over a 4 week period. The first evening was held physically in the school library. Students and parents were stepped through the basics of virtual meeting rooms using their student netbooks.  One hour meetings were then scheduled over a 5 week period. Parents were either emailed a link to the room or accessed it from the school blog, logged on from home, with their child supporting them and participated in a planned webinar with the chat feature being used for questions, feedback etc. A sample agenda:-

  1. Ice breaker (6 mins)
  2. From our Principal (7 mins)
  3. Assistant Principal (7 mins)
  4. Online exploration: Ms Murnane (7 mins)
  5. An e-guest from Darwin – Rachel Neale (7 mins)
  6. From the classroom – Mrs Gow (7 mins)
  7. Mr Poynton – Education Week  (7 mins)
  8. Question time (7 mins)

These webinars were recorded for interested parents who could not attend. Read more at Techno Parents

Online school assemblies – Scott Duncan, is an innovative ICT teacher at a new school in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs. His school shares the site with the local secondary college and has limited access to the  gymnasium. This led to the introduction of broadcasting and recording of their school assemblies using web conferencing and Blackboard Collaborate. Classes, teachers and parents login and participate. Read more at Online Assemblies

Global Student Summits

Parents have been invited to virtually join online global student summits with students presenting and sharing their learning across different countries.

eSchool Council Meetings

School Council Members from Hawkesdale P12 College and Apollo Bay College met virtually using Polycom videoconferencing equipment, discussing the value and nature of using videoconferencing for learning.

Further ideas: There are so many ways in which technology can connect parents to learning. Further possibilities include bringing in expert speakers, virtual art exhibitions, online book character parades, book clubs, other special classroom activities, parent teacher interviews etc

What suggestions do you have? How have you used virtual meeting/classroom software or hardware to connect parents with learning?

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