March 12, 2014
by rcrellin
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Opening Learning to Parents

Anne Mirtschin is our guest blogger this week

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Technology opens up many doors, flattens classroom walls and enables involvement in learning in innovative ways, many of which are now only being pioneered. Distance, time, cost and effort are no longer barriers to the ability to attend classes, meetings and special events. Connecting, collaborating and communicating can take place anywhere and anytime as long as there is internet access.

Tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, skype and MS Lync; and high definition videoconferencing equipment eg Polycom mean that parents, teachers and students can attend meetings, lessons and professional development sessions provided there is access to the internet using either a mobile device or fixed hardware. Following are some of the ways that technology could be or have already been used to connect parents virtually.

Online Meetings:

Committee meetings –There is no longer a need to meet in a central location, participants can attend the meeting virtually from the comfort of their home and work place, by logging in to a virtual meeting room using Blackboard Collaborate, via a link provided by the moderator.  Alternatively, if Polycom equipment is available at a local school, parents can dial into the room and be part of a meeting via a large monitor, webcamera and microphone.  An app is now available for mobile devices to provide access to both Polycom and Blackboard Collaborate. Both types of virtual meetings can be recorded for members who can attend.

Parent Information Evenings – Hawkesdale P12 College trialled online nightly parent information meetings over a 4 week period. The first evening was held physically in the school library. Students and parents were stepped through the basics of virtual meeting rooms using the student netbooks.  One hour meetings were scheduled over a 5 week period. Parents were either emailed a link to the room or accessed it from the school blog, logged on from home, with their child supporting them and participated in a planned webinar with the chat feature being used for questions, feedback etc. A sample agenda:-

  1. Ice breaker (6 mins)
  2. From our Principal (7 mins)
  3. Assistant Principal (7 mins)
  4. Online exploration: Ms Murnane Literacy co-ordinator (7 mins)
  5. An e-guest from Darwin – Rachel Neale (7 mins)
  6. From the classroom – Mrs Gow   (Science/maths teacher) (7 mins)
  7. Mr Poynton (humanities teacher) – Education Week  (7 mins)
  8. Question time and student sharing (7 mins)

These webinars were recorded for interested parents who could not attend. Read more at Techno Parents (http://murcha.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/techno-parents-in-elluminate-transforming-educational-communities/)

Online school assembliesScott Duncan, is an innovative ICT teacher at a new school in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs. His school shares the site with the local secondary college and has limited access to the  gymnasium. This led to the introduction of broadcasting and recording of their school assemblies using web conferencing and Blackboard Collaborate. Classes, teachers and parents login and participate. Read more at Online Assemblies (http://mrduncan.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/09/10/online-assemblies/)

Global Student Summits

Parents have been invited to virtually join online global student summits with students presenting and sharing their learning across different countries. They are able to listen, ask questions in the chat and provide feedback to the student learning that is being shared. They become one of the classroom members.

eSchool Council Meetings

School Council Members from Hawkesdale P12 College and Apollo Bay College met virtually using Polycom videoconferencing equipment, to discuss the value and nature of using videoconferencing for learning.

Further ideas: There are so many ways in which technology can connect parents to learning. Further possibilities include bringing in expert speakers, virtual art exhibitions, online book character parades, book clubs, other special classroom activities, parent teacher interviews etc

What suggestions do you have? How have you used virtual meeting/classroom software or hardware to connect parents with learning?

 

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