I'm interested in learning about examples of schools using technology to successfully promote parent involvement.
I'm doing some writing about different strategies that would more successfully engage parents in the life of schools and the academic life of their children, and would like to include technology ideas. I've got several examples, but was hoping to get more. Any suggestions? I'm particularly interested, though not exclusively, in low-income/urban schools.

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Larry,
We have found that blogs and podcasts are a great start to involve parents. Online access to student progress is also a good lure.
Sharon
Sharon,

Have you written anything specific about how you've used blogs and podcasts?
Not specifically - but here are some things that I have seen work in my district:

1) Grade 3 teacher posts podcasts of homework tips / tricks

2) Grade 2 students post blogs about their daily events

3) teacher places a meebo client on his webpage and converses with parents during "homework" time. (don't have a link to this now as he is out for family issues)

4) Principal and/or Superintendent podcasts events from their school / district -- this has just been started.

5) High school posts announcements to a blog with RSS feeds for parents.

There are other examples, but these may give you some ideas.
Wow Mr. Tee Tee Vee is really cool. I saw so impressed. Where does he find the time to make the video's. Please tell him he is inspiring!
Larry,

In East Tennessee our local newspaper (owned by Scripps-Howard) started a Ning network called SchoolMatters for discussion of education issues across the community. It was inspired by a particularly contentious time last spring when the local school board undertook a massive rezoning of attendance boundaries to accommodate for the construction of a new high school. Parents representing different sectors of our community were enraged (rightly or wrongly) and felt marginalized and unheard by the central school administration. And the newspaper, I think, was simply overwhelmed by the mass of letters and blog posts hitting it daily.

So, the newspaper leadership created SchoolMatters, which is still in its infancy. It's totally moderated by community members (mostly parents) and has developed several groups, which mostly break down along school lines. Thus, you will see the names of different elementary, middle and high schools under the groups tab. These are largely small and inactive. I think people are still figuring it out, as the site only launched in August. The busiest section, of course, is the forum. Many topical and urgent issues have been posted there with some lively discussion. Even four of our school board representatives belong to SchoolMatters. It's a start!

The network is experiencing growing pains right now with people (like me) voicing concern about the lack of representation across geographical and race lines. Also, due to network filters, no school personnel (and certainly not students!) can participate at the site during school hours. They have to do so off site, on their own computers, presuming, of course, they have computers and Internet access at home. This is the number one issue I wish to see addressed in terms of making the site more representative. Also, I don't think the site has been promoted enough to catch on with our inner-city and low-income families. The newspaper set up the network, but since they have no commercial stake in it, I don't think there is much of a push to advertise or promote it. It's up to the parents, and for now these are the wealthier, middle- and upper-middle class families on the west side of town who have the technological savvy to access and use the site.

Nonetheless, there is already discussion among the moderators of SchoolMatters about how to "take it up a notch" and make the site more of a platform for action, not just discussion. Already, I think there has been some good breaking down of walls by giving parents a voice and a way to share and problem solve about issues of importance to them (such as flu mists, school calendars, school security, health education, and so on). These aren't really my issues per se, but, like I said, it's a start toward creating a community dialog and it's better than nothing.

I've been thinking of sharing this network with others at Classroom 2.0 to see if there is anything else quite like it out there. I think it's unique, but I may be wrong.
This .ning network, SchoolMatters sounds wonderful. I think our community could benefit from something like this. I will check it out. Thanks for the information. I have many questions, but I will look over the network first and ask any unanswered questions after that. ;D Thanks!
Hi Larry,

I work in a low-income school district in southern New Jersey. I have tried to do the same in my school as I think it's really important endeavor. This year has been a little slow going though as I'm in grad school twice per week and it's a crazy (good crazy) year so far.

I have found that a podcast-class worked well in our school (the link is from what did last October). I provided a script and the parent and their child/children read through the script. The script involved discussing what they liked about the community, the school, and an unique thing about their family. The script worked well to focus what would be said. I also burned CDs for the parents since many of them don't have internet access.

I also did two interactive video conferences...one to Alaska Sea Life and one to the Australian Corel Reef. Both were well attended. Google Earth worked well in showing where we were going.

Also, we are planning an M&M Math and Technology night in late November. Parents and their children will be making graphs/chart and doing some number crunching with the help of spreadsheets on google docs. I also plan on having parent-child updating a wiki page to post some of their information. Also, towards the end I'd love to have them present their results and graphs and capture the presentation in a podcast. With everything scripted and created before hand, I think this is all doable. Also, we hope the M&Ms will provide an incentive to attend the workshop. We are still planning the night but will provide any additional information once we finalize and get it out in wiki format.

Hope this helps.

Edwin
I know of a report that describes such a setting:

Learning Outcomes When Young Children Create and Use Their Own ICT ... by Liz Fitzsimons (2006)

See the section "Home-School Partnership", on page 14, then later, page 42 onwards.

The interest of the approach taken there is that it doesn't depend on parents having a computer and broadband connection. Simple, but apparently quite efficient.
Hi everyone, Bonjour à tous,

Je crois que la question posée ici par Larry Ferlazzo est particulièrement importante. Impliquer les parents dans l'apprentissage est rendu très facile par le web 2.0. C'est ainsi que lorsque j'ai monté mon réseau social scolaire, il m'est apparu avec une grande évidence qu'il fallait faire place aux parents.

Dans l'architecture de mon réseau public, j'ai donc prévu que les parents pouvaient s'inscrire au même titre que leurs enfants, et produire du contenu en fonction de leurs compétences. De même, j'ai prévu un groupe destiné aux parents, à la fois pour leur permettre de me poser des questions sur l'usage de l'interface par leurs enfants, que pour proposer un espace de discussion sur leurs propres usages.

Quel a été le résultat jusque là ? En l'espace d'une semaine à peine, j'ai plus de 120 personnes, essentiellement des élèves évidemment, inscrits sur la plateforme créée. Mais aussi 2 parents, qui semblaient donc très vite motivés par la proposition. Ces deux parents exposent leurs compétences, l'une dans un domaine linguistique, l'autre dans un domaine scientifique. Nul doute que d'autres parents vont vite rejoindre leurs enfants (nous sommes en France en période de vacances scolaires,

Happy Thanksgiving on next 22 Nov. ;-)
Vincent
Thanks for responding so quickly to my question, though I'll need to use Babelfish to see what Vincent wrote.....
I'm not sure that Babelfish will be efficient ;-) Try to ask to a teacher speaking french, it will be better. My written english is not enough fluent to give you precise explanations !
Rough translation (by another French speaker):

Vincent Mespoulet said:

I believe that this question introduced by Larry Ferlazzo is of particular importance. Thanks to web 2.0, it has become easier to involve parents in their child's learning. When I decided to create my own social school network, it was obvious to me that I had to make room for the parents.

In my network setup, I made it possible for parents to register [as well as their children], with the ability to produce content, according to their abilities. I created a group targetted to parents, where they can ask questions on how the school network gets to be used by their children as well as well as questions on how they can use the space themselves.

What has been the result so far? Within a week, more than 120 persons joined the network. Of course, most of them are school pupils for which accounts have been generated. However, two parents also joined who appeared highly interested in this opportunity. These parents already started to share their knowledge, one in a linguistic field, the other one in a scientific field. I have no doubt that other parents are to join their kids (this is a school holiday period in France for now)

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