I had the pleasure of listening to Lorna Constantini (from Ontario, Canada) and Matt Montagne (from Palo Alto, California) in their presentation on Parental Engagement in the 21st Century (using Web 2.0) and their work with EdTechTalk/Parents as Partners. A few key points, without going on too long: they believe that parents can be effective partners in the use of web 2.0 and, by knowing about it, they can be involved in the one area of parental oversight that is seriously lacking from either ignorance, fear, lack of experience, lack of trying, lack of training and the absence of a supportive school environment. Parents, be it individually, or through a parents association, can use these tools – much as their children do – to reach out to those with similar interests, background or training and help schools develop good parameters of digital citizenship. Parents should explore these tools, get involved, overcome – with the school’s help – their fears, and schools can add such tools as videoblogs when kids are on trips, question and answer sessions on the web for those parents who cannot get to school, by posting recorded sessions for those unable to make it to an event, and interactive sessions with teachers or administrators.
It was certainly worthwhile, and, again, opened my eyes a bit about what could be done. I learned about new ways of reaching out, and I was fascinated by schools which were doing more (and these are not hard things to do) and the way in which we could connect to so many other families and parents in particular. As a school that has far-flung parents, in an environment where we do not necessarily have the typical Parents Association for many reasons, we could use these tools to reach out, to touch more people, to strengthen our global community of parents in a way that would be so much more powerful than simply by writing letters. For those who cannot be here, they could be with us nevertheless.
Another good idea for us to use, and another reminder that I am always ready to learn new things!