Balancing students’ exposure to technology in the classroom with considerations for safety, equal access and appropriateness is key to successful digital boosts to learning. Another essential but often ill-considered aspect of the mix is what parents want and expect for their children and the importance of introducing new methods of teaching with their full support.
The first step is communicating clearly what digital tools can offer over traditional teaching methods, and being able to counter concerns parents may have over safety. Once parents are on board with the many benefits, suggesting how they can support their children further on this front will help your digital efforts considerably.
Digital technologies are an essential part of learning today. Students are using them to connect with each other, to learn new skills and pursue their interests further than has ever been possible. In particular, learning can increasingly happen anywhere at anytime, not just in the classroom, and students can connect with others outside their school and even country! Access to a huge range of new resources as well as experts not available locally can make learning a far freer and richer experience and literally open whole new worlds to hungry young minds.
To support the digital direction classrooms are moving in, onboard parents can offer essential encouragement and practical help in a number of ways. First, when parents buy their children smartphones or tablets, its worth checking with the school what their BYOD (bring your own device) policies are and how well new devices will fit in with exist digital infrastructure. It’s often the school’s responsibility to provide device access to students without their own. Home internet access can help with homework and self-directed learning, but some schools also offer ‘after-hours’ online access for families who don’t have internet at home.
Finally, safety is the subject many parents express deepest misgivings about, and fortunately, they can play a leading role in ensuring their children are not exposed to the worst the internet has to offer. Solid advice for parents is to be involved, find out what your child is doing online, both at school and home, and have honest discussions about digital safety. NSPCC Online Safety [https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/] is a great place to start, as they promote confident, safe and responsible use of online technologies.
Understanding parents’ hopes and doubts about digital technologies in our classrooms and syncing your own efforts and communication with those will provide the biggest boost to your digital classroom initiatives, with your students reaping all the benefits from new learning practices and possibilities.