Including Parents in Your Digital Community
The latest generation of edtech tools are not only making it possible to teach students in ways that were not possible only a few years ago, but they also make it easy to increase parental engagement in new and exciting ways. Here are three tools that you can use to include parents in your digital community:
First, Seesaw is an excellent platform for making it simple for parents and other family members to be involved in the life of the classroom. Think of Seesaw as a private version Facebook—only those to whom the teacher has given access are able to see its content. Within the classroom, Seesaw can be used to hold class discussions, for students to collaborate, and for students to record and track their portfolio of work.
Teachers can give parents and other family members access to the materials produced by their students, which makes it easy for adults to get a close look at what is actually happening in the classroom. Teachers could give homework assignments that ask parents and children to sit down together and, for example, review a Seesaw discussion of the topic they are currently studying. Seesaw is also a great way to keep parents who live at a distance in the loop.
A second great tool is Flipgrid. Flipgrid is similar to Seesaw, although it has less functionality—this might be seen as a disadvantage, or it might be an advantage since it keeps things simple. In any case, Flipgrid allows users to post videos and others to respond to those videos—in private classrooms that the teacher creates. Again, teachers could give parents access so that they can watch, for example, their child’s class presentation. Or, parents could use Flipgrid to ask teachers questions. The simple interface removes barriers for even the most tech-phobic parent.
Third, teachers might consider using any number of the social media platforms that parents are already using—Facebook, Twitter, or text messages—in order to increase parental engagement. They should be aware that digital equity can be an issue that needs to be addressed, but as long as it is considered, it makes sense to meet parents where they already are in the digital world. In fact, recent research has shown that frequent text messages to parents can increase student engagement in the classroom. Of course, it also creates opportunities for teachers to build positive good will with parents, so that if a difficult situation arises, there is already a warm relationship in place.