When parents are informed about how educators are using technology for meaningful learning, they are more likely to become passionate advocates for school technology. Here are three creative ways beyond back-to-school night that give parents a glimpse into their students' school experience.
1. Schedule a family tech night to teach parents how to use technology.
Host a family tech night at the start of the year to share how — and why — you are using technology in your classroom and school.
Ensure these events are inclusive by sending the invitation in multiple formats and in the languages parents speak. You’ll get better attendance if you provide childcare and translators and offer snacks. Make it clear that all are welcome regardless of tech skills.
It’s important to provide enough information but not overwhelm parents. You can demonstrate how to access student attendance and academic records, show them how to navigate the school website and teach them how to download useful apps like Canvas and Seesaw.
Consider making or finding a compelling video so that you can you paint a positive story about technology. You could also bring students in for a demo to illustrate the power of technology to transform learning.
2. Create a parent technology playground.
You don’t need 3D printers and expensive robotics. Create a simple space using the classroom technology that students use every day. Set up in a library or classroom and schedule these periodic events at different times and on various days of the week so all parents can attend.
You can even staff this space with students who can demo the equipment and prepare exercises for parents to work through. Parents can edit a video using iMovie, weigh in on a topic using Flipgrid or create a presentation with Google Slides. They can answer poll questions or create their own survey using Google Forms or Survey Monkey.
3. Invite parents to student-led tech talks.
At Stamford American International School in Singapore, Craig Kemp asks middle and high school students to educate their parents about social media. They present on various tools at rotation stations and parents get plenty of time to ask questions.
This event empowers students to share their knowledge, gives them experience planning and presenting information, and proves to parents that students can be a valuable font of information.
You don’t have to limit student tech talks to social media — although that’s a popular topic with both students and parents. Kids can talk about digital citizenship, gaming, internet tips — you name it!
“This experiment proved to me how powerful student voice and student-driven learning can be,” Kemp recalled. “I left the evening totally inspired and ready to expand the idea and give students more opportunities to lead the learning.”
Diana Fingal is ISTE's director of editorial content and mom to two teenagers who enjoy exploring technology for learning.