This is a wonderful question to ask. As I asked myself this question, I ruefully realized that I didn't have any good answers based on recent experiences. That's an "AHA!" moment to start growing on immediately.
MOUSING AROUND - PARENTS' TECHNOLOGY INSTITUTE
When I served in Edgewood ISD and Mt. Pleasant ISD, two relatively small communities compared to ones like San Antonio ISD, it seemed easier to offer classes for parents to attend. The key idea behind "Parents' Technology Institute (PTI)" and "Mousing Around," which is what I called those initiatives, was to show parents HOW technology was used in their children's schools. These classes for parents featured baby-sitting for children, so that parents could focus entirely on the content of the class.
One class, for example, focused on providing parents with a technology-purchasing primer, a document that made recommendations about what was best to use.
When I moved on from my positions in Edgewood and Mt. Pleasant, I let those initiatives slide. Although I tried to "recreate" the environment for those efforts, no one but me saw the value...probably because they were old approaches focusing on the wrong things. This kind of initiative has to reflect what parents actually need.
What they probably don't need is "How To" classes. After all, if you don't know something these days, you can go onto YouTube, Wiki How To, or wherever and find how to do something. It's funny that the one thing I really enjoyed doing is now one of the easiest things to find online.
Realizing that fundamental shift (which is years old, BTW), the question becomes, how can we better connect with the community as technology directors or CTOs? I suppose one has to go back to the questions I have that are relevant to connecting with others:
- Is the goal to teach parents how technology can make a difference in their lives? The technologies they have available in smartphones, iPads, Chromebooks mean that they already know how tech can make a difference.
- Is the goal to inform parents about how schools have changed through the use of technology? Unfortunately, many schools have NOT changed, so that's a hard one to push, isn't it?
- What technology should we be sharing/discussing with parents? There are so many different technologies available these days, it would be difficult to bring parents into a school environment and say, "Ok, today we are going to..."
You can see my latest efforts in my current district here, as well as this self-paced online series of courses, but I'm having trouble sustaining the effort. Maybe it's much ado about nothing...it may be that "connecting" doesn't mean giving parents something else to learn, or myself something more to do. Maybe, connecting is about using services like "ParentLink," encouraging teachers to use Edmodo, Schoology, Moodle, classroom web pages to share information where you broadcast information to interested parents...
Maybe, being connected means staff and students using social media to connect with parents so that they feel a part of the school community rather than someone who visits every once in awhile to get bad news. Maybe it means creating Google+ Communities for your campus, a Twitter hashtag, and then populating those locations with as much goodness as you can spare, every hour of the day (or more) to get the positiveness out there.
Rules for the meme are simple: Link back here, take your best shot at responding to the 3 questions, then tag 3 other people (via Twitter or email). Questions include the following:
- How would you connect to the community?
- What would you focus on in this effort?
- Why would you do that?
I'm tagging the following folks:
- Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson (Twitter: @blueskunkblog)
- Dr. Scott "Dangerously Irrelevant" Mcleod (Twitter: @mcleod)
- Amber Teamann (Twitter: @8amber8)
Looking forward to responses! Feel free to revise the questions if you have a different idea of how to get things done!
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure