As in many schools, Directors of Academic Technology such as myself plan, prepare, and deliver training to two major constituent groups around our schools, faculty and students. We spend countless hours working with large groups, small groups, and individually so that they users can learn new skills, become aware of new tools so that they are able to create engaging learning networks for themselves.
Forgotten, or at least pushed to the side, is an important and influential group in the education of our students – their parents. It begs me to think about the following questions:
- How much time do you spend on creating opportunities to teach parents about the new communication tools (blogs, podcasts, and social networks)? Is it only a fraction of the time that you spend on faculty and students? Why is that so, since students will spend significantly more time at home than they do at school? Do you focus only on Internet Safety, or do you show them some of the tools and how they can be used?
- Most educational institutions talk about life-long learning, but do we model this by providing opportunities for our parents?
- Are we offering opportunities to support parents to begin participate using these tools? If not, why not? Wouldn’t parents benefit from first-hand experience in the use of social networks?
- Do we provide forums for parents to converse with other parents to develop parenting strategies so we can more effectively parent our children? Isn’t it better to know what other parents allow?
- What is our method of delivery, the lecture format? Do we allow parents to share antidotes and experiences to make each of us stronger?
I feel that it is our imperative to do as much as we can to not only provide information, but to challenge our parents to participate. Last winter, I provided an opportunity for our parents to participate and experience. I am developing plans to provide learning opportunities for our parents which are participatory rather than lecture based, challenging them to visit Club Penguin, Webkinz, create a Facebook account, read blogs and listen to podcasts, and hopefully excite a few of them to begin to contribute to the conversation.
I will be sharing some of these ideas and provide feedback on what I have learned in my upcoming K12 Online Conference presentation.
I hope that some of you follow my lead and provide a more active approach in making sure that our parents do not fall on the wrong side of the digital divide.