We can’t control what students do at home with their school-issued mobile
devices, but we do need to plan for it. That’s why getting buy-in from parents and
the community is a critical element of any mobile learning program.
Kids spend the majority of their time outside of school, after all. Without
parental involvement, we can’t take full advantage of the 24/7 learning
devices afford. And teaching kids to be good digital citizens is all but
impossible unless parents reinforce the lesson at home.
Getting parents on board can be tricky, especially if they have nondigital lifestyles. To help, middle school principal Monica
Burton has strategies for making families and community members partners in your mobile
“I think you have to promote (mobile learning) throughout the community,”
said Burton, whose school launched a mobile learning program with the
help of a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools grant.
“We did a lot to try to get the community involved, including talking to
parents and students. We even got the mayor involved. Everyone seems to very
much want the program to succeed.”
She offered the following advice to get parents excited about mobile
Show the difference mobile technology makes. When meeting
with parents about her school’s technology
plan, Burton used concrete examples to illustrate the value of mobile
devices in the classroom. By discussing the cost of investing in textbooks
versus tablets and comparing the weight of a mobile device to the weight of the
textbooks in a child’s backpack, she was able to convince 98 percent of the
parents at her school to support mobile learning.
Help parents develop their technology skills. Many parents
are uncomfortable with the idea of mobile learning simply because they lack the
technological prowess to assist their children. Burton helped ease this
discomfort by offering to teach parents how to use the technology available at
her school. She also explained to them that it’s OK if their kids run circles
around them with technology. “I think it’s exciting to see a child working with
technology in ways you don’t know how,” she said.
Engage parents in their children’s learning. Keep
communicating with parents throughout the year about what students are doing
with their mobile devices. Suggest questions families can use to initiate
conversations about what the kids are working on, and invite parents to shadow
their children at school to see the technology in action.
Ultimately, Burton said, encouraging parent involvement is largely a matter
of “being persistent and consistent in explaining why this is important and why
they have to help us.” With community support, your mobile learning program is
more likely to make a positive impact — and less likely to make negative news
This is an updated version of a post that originally published on Aug. 14, 2014.
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