Partnering with Parents to Support E-Learning

During a recent ATLIS Virtual Town Hall, technology leaders discussed ways their schools are supporting distance learning for their students, in particular, by reaching out to parents. This post shares some of the insights from that gathering, along with some resources for the parent (and grand-parent or other caregiver) partners at home. -- SD

[10-minute read]

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What are the best ways for schools to support their parent communities during this time of transition to learning in virtual spaces?

A recent ATLIS Virtual Town Hall of technology educators from around the globe tackled these questions.

What are you doing or feel you need to do to support parents during this challenging time?

What are the best resources you’ve found for parents during this unprecedented time?

Here are some of the suggestions these technology leaders came up with.

Resource Portals

A number of schools are now creating parent resource portals on their school websites, providing a place for housing all resources in one place. These have included such elements as live FAQ pages or posting of general information about when critical tools may be down.

Sometimes just having a single place to explain Virtual Office Hours or post a regular schedule can be a huge help to parents.

Some schools are modeling theirl parent help pages on local public school “who to contact” resources used for other school closures -- this is the kind of thing parents may be used to finding for their children in public schools.

Open Communications

Some have gone further, launching their online programs with open discussions on Facebook Live or Zoom chats to take the pulse of the parent perspective.

Collecting and sharing surveys from parents can provide critical information at just the right time. This was particularly important in the early days, when schools were assessing the bandwidth and device needs for each family.

As schools work to sustain learning programs over the next several weeks, school leaders should be in frequent contact with parents about how learning just plain looks different in a digital environment.

The Help Desk 

Providing a clear avenue of communication with parents who need technical support is important. A discussion board can help parents troubleshoot and help each other when a tech team is overtaxed. 

Offering the school's Help Desk ticketing system to the parent body is one step, but the parents unused to this kind of tool may need some training in how best to get they support they need.

Community Well-Being

Technology teams can play a role in helping parents find ways to connect with one another when the usual child pick-up line or meet-up during an athletic event just doesn't exist anymore.

The same goes for students. Schools can help students find the emotional connections they need with the adults who mentor them, as well as friends who are isolated in their own homes.

One school set up Zoom Camp during Spring Break to give relief to families who were working from home surrounded by rambunctious children. The camp included online games, story time, and student-run classes or clubs.

As the economy puts a strain on some families, community efforts by schools to support parents in need to offer grocery store gift cards can make a huge impact.

Parents as Teaching Assistants

“A lot of our parents are now teachers,” one participant in our Town Hall said, “so we treat them like faculty.”

Parents or other caregivers may now find themselves in the crucial role of translating the online learning lessons into something their children grab hold of and run with. While this may be similar to regular help at night with homework, students who are challenged to become more independent in their learning may need the help of a nearby adult just to get started.

So, in some ways, the professional development that many technology educators have been delivering to their school colleagues may need a parent version as well.

All in all, we are building this new world of online learning together, and we need to recognize and honor the relationships that will help our students succeed.

Resources

 

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