Asking Ontario parents what they think using Social Media.

by Lorna on January 16, 2012

I’m working on the teen edition of the Parent Tool Kit and one area that is included is a section about using the latest technologies to connect parents to the classroom and I keep wondering how successful it will be in engaging all parents.

Last night @shannoninottawa and @dougpete put out a tweet asking Ontario Bloggers to write a blog post about using Social Media(SM) in Ontario classrooms as a response to a blog post written by Chris Kennedy re: BC taking the lead in using SM in education.

I was thrilled to see the immediate response that certainly proves Chris Kennedy wrong ( don’t have data yet) but based on the criteria used by Chris in his blog post Ontario educators are sure in the running. I’ll leave it to Shannon and Doug to tweet out their blog post when it is ready.

The conversation we were having made me think about how SM is used with parents and ask the question “do we have @Joe_Mazza in Ontario?” I’ll explain what I mean. Joe is a principal in Philadelphia who is using social media such as twitter, blogs and YouTube to engage parents in his school. Shannon typed our her own quick blog post about how she connects with parents with good tutorials on how to get started. Yup – Youtube, classroom blogs and twitter!! Parents are thrilled with her work and I love that she is getting such positive feedback. Shannon is doing a wonderful job leading the way in sending out information to parents using SM.

I have whole bunch of questions about the success of using these tools beyond sharing information with parents.

Are teachers using SM to ask parents what they think? Is it being used to seek advice from parents? Are we using Facebook and twitter to maintain two-way communications? Are we providing training for parents on how to respond and engage using these tools? Is it the already engaged parents who are engaging now using SM? How many parents are connected with smart phones, computers the Internet? Is there any data to support how many parents know how to use these tools. I want to hear overwhelming that SM is being used successfully to engage parents but in general I don’t think it is. I need to be bang on in writing about tools for parents of teens so can you share your thoughts on how best to do it?

A bit more about Joe. If you watch/listen to Joe Mazza’s presentation on Parents as Partners you will hear how he uses ustream to broadcast the home and school meetings; how he uses the back channel to keep the conversations in the room and at home together and how he used poll everywhere to obtain parents opinions on the topics being discussed at the meeting while they are at home.

If you want to meet up with Joe and hear first hand what he does. please join us on Classroom 2.0 LIVE this saturday January 21, 2012. Find out how to participate here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Beachq January 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Such a timely posting! One set of parents have been in touch this past week – discovered their child has been involved in highly inappropriate behaviour online. Very supportive of my efforts, but wants to know if school can provide Parent Education… Yes, of course, the Parent Council has provided sessions every year, but as you might expect, only a few parents ever show up. I communicate through email and online – although still only a starter — and kids through blogs, Edmodo, Animoto, etc. — but this latest situation will redouble my efforts to get parents more involved in their child’s online activities. Perhaps some will be more motivated to spend the time?

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Lorna January 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Thanks Cathy. It is great to hear you are connecting with your parents online. There are a lot of reasons parents do not attend sessions – Internet or others. That is why I was captivated with Joe Mazza’s use of ustream – a free web-streaming service to connect with parents. Matt Montagne used this same service to set up a session for parents when the class was away on a trip to Washington. I called it phoning home using ustream. The students did a presentation about what they had learned and parents could ask questions and see what their children had been doing that day. It is phenomenal what technology can do.

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Sheila Stewart January 17, 2012 at 4:30 am

Thanks for pulling all the great posts together, Lorna. I have been thinking some more about your question, “Is it the already engaged parents who are engaging now using SM?” I guess it might also be helpful to consider if the ones who are using it are actually using it to connect with education, and if not, how could the more engaged ones using it for education purposes and communication help connect with them better…online and offline? Have we complicated “parent voice” even further, or opened up more possibilities for outreach?

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Lorna January 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Sheila those are really good points. I wonder too about complicating things for parents thus my question about how many parents are making use of these tools. I know Aviva Dunsiger is tweeting out class updates and parents are commenting on her class blog posts. But there is no real way to judge how effective these tools are in getting feedback from parents. As in all things human I have seen people ( not all parents) use twitter to make very strong statements about their personal issues. I think that is one of the problems of the open and transparent communications. Bitter complaints can make for bitter responses. It takes a confident and well rested educator to communicate effectively when people are emotional and irate. Having said that tweets can really get issues on the table for discussion.

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