Securing parental approval and support for the technology in the home is crucial, and districts are finding a few key steps, such as strong communication and asking for input, can help their tech initiatives be more successful.
Communicating with Parents
Involve parents and community stakeholders at every stage of the process during planning, deployment and evaluation. Although there is no one right way to communicate with your parents, face-to-face has the biggest impact since it allows for dialogue.
Explain to parents how the technology is being used and how it helps overall academic, social, and emotional success. Share success stories from your district.
Here are a few suggestions from district administrators who have seen great success.
- District-Wide Parent Evenings: Host district-wide evenings to discuss the 1:1 program and form a committee with parent representatives from each school to meet regularly and talk about your 1:1 initiative.
- Parent Ambassadors: Enlist current parent ambassadors who are champions for your plan to reach out to other parents and host coffee hours that administrators attend to build relationships.
- Student-Led Parent Professional Development: Students walk family members through the technology (hardware and software) used at home/school to get parents excited about the possibilities.
- Community Organizations: Use community centers and organizations to communicate district technology plans and how it will improve the community. This also helps spread the word for when additional funding may be needed.
- Student Volunteers: Use student ambassadors to speak at churches, libraries, community centers, or help reach out to students whose parents/family aren’t able to make events on campus.
The venue to communicate is important and specific to your parent population. Keep in mind working parents or parents who may work two shifts. Most of these parents may not have access to email so online communication may not be the most effective. In addition, note the native language. For many families, their children are the translators for the parents. By hosting sessions in their native language, you will gain their trust, show you care, and build that relationship.
Ask for Input
Communication goes two ways. While presenting your plan is always important, listening to what parents and community organizations have to say about the tech plan is equally important.
Survey and Market to Parents
Focus groups are a great forum for getting feedback and establishing relationships with parents. It is also an opportunity to brainstorm solutions when there may be challenges for certain students.
There are parents who make the decision to opt-out of tech programs. This happens for a variety of reasons. Many times they are afraid of the responsibility, fearful of the technology, or afraid of what Internet access will bring.
It is important for districts to educate parents on proper tech usage and web filtering. Some districts amend policies so that students who bring home SmartSpots aren’t liable for broken devices, as long as there is no negligence.
Some schools offer tech classes that cover general technology topics, as well as the devices and tools the district students use. Many parents are unfamiliar with the equipment or being online, so it’s helpful to do some ground work before discussing devices.
Parent engagement is a key metric for districts to show success. Many funding sources, including Title Programs (Title I, Title III, etc.), look to fund programs which will increase parent engagement.
Some potential metrics:
- Number of parent interactions/training session.
- Volume of parent traffic on district portal or LMS.
- Number of parent/teacher conferences.
Whether your families hear about your district’s tech happenings via flyers, snail mail, email, text, twitter, Facebook, your website or district app, or face-to-face at a Back to School Night, the key is to make them feel included, listen to and address their concerns, and clearly describe what is happening and why it matters. Having parents on board can help take your tech program from good to great.
Parent, Family and Student Acceptable Use Guidelines & Permission Forms
It is critical before sending any technology home that both students and parents understand the expectation for their Kajeet SmartSpots. Districts should always get permission from parents before sending home technology.
Here are sample documents to help with this process: