Using Technology to Increase Parental Engagement in Learning
Jay Staniforth discusses the benefits of using the whole-school communication app, Weduc
It is widely accepted that the involvement of parents in their child’s education makes a great difference to success in the classroom. Yet, for many reasons, some parents are not as actively involved as they could be, particularly when it can be difficult to communicate with the school. Interaction between parents and the schools and colleges their children attend has often been limited to meetings such as parents’ evenings, a teacher’s comments in a student’s notebook and school events such as sports day and plays.
There are many ways in which schools actively try to encourage deeper parental involvement, from welcoming them as a classroom volunteer, being available out of hours, live chat sessions, even child-parent cookery classes, and so on. But a new kind of interactive communications technology is also helping this effort. In today’s world of mobile apps and when many children, even young ones, have mobile phones, you’d think communication would be easy. But what many educational establishments from primary school to university level want is a way of communicating quickly, easily and consistently with parents and students about a whole range of topics. For this reason, whole school communication and engagement products, via an app on a mobile phone – which can also be used on a PC/Mac – are starting to make their way into schools. These allow a high level of built-in, targeted communication, facilitating two-way engagement, while allowing the school to choose the most appropriate channel of communication – for example, SMS, Push Notification and Email – for the correct situation.
A study by the National College for School Leadership* quoting Harris and Goodall makes a distinction between parental engagement as parental engagement in learning, rather than parental involvement in schooling. However, both are important. The study says “Feedback from school leaders shows that one of the major concerns in running a modern school is trying to get parents to engage more. Because of the changing demographic of modern parenting, traditional approaches to parental involvement have been largely unsuccessful.”
A school that is trying to address this problem is Heather Primary School, based in Coalville, Leicestershire, who have recently invested in the whole-school communication platform called Weduc to help improve communication and engagement between parents and staff. The school selected the product for its ability to bring all communication methods into one platform whilst being accessible via web browser and mobile app; this helped to meet the developing requirements of the school. Prior to taking the system, the school relied mainly on text messaging and paper newsletters to engage with parents.
Many schools still rely on a school administrator to answer phone calls from parents and pass messages on to the appropriate member of staff – time-consuming and with a risk of an inaccurate message being passed along, and letters and newsletters sent via pupils, which may never reach their destination.
Schools need effective methods of communicating with parents as well as actively engaging them with the school. Many schools still rely on a school administrator to answer phone calls from parents and pass messages on to the appropriate member of staff – time-consuming and with a risk of an inaccurate message being passed along, and letters and newsletters sent via pupils, which may never reach their destination.
Today, nearly everyone has a smartphone. By using a highly configurable and secure cloud-based network based on a highly attractive, visual mobile phone app to exchange messages, photos, videos and achievements, teachers can bring parents closer to the activities that pupils engage in when they are at school. All communication takes place within a completely private and secure environment. This makes it possible to manage classes, tests and assessments and personalised learning, whilst providing a safe location for all, with secure access to post content and events viewable by pupils, parents, teachers and school administrators at various security levels as set by the school.
These products ensure that it is very easy for parents to play an active role in a child’s education and are now being adopted by many schools across the world. The interaction between schools, parents and teachers creates stronger relationships and increases the participation of all those involved in the education of the students. Anyone within the school community who has been allowed access and has the ability to connect to an internet connection can view information about their child’s activities anywhere. Parents will also have access to any feedback from teachers or school notices including closures due to poor weather or school holidays and parents’ evenings, all from a single mobile application.
While technology proliferates in schools today, some are more useful than others. Tools that are simple to use and have a clear function that solves a difficult and ongoing problem are the ones likely to be around for the long-term, albeit revised and enhanced to meet the needs of the changing education system.
For more information please visit: https://weduc.co.uk/