As a parent, not a teacher or administrator, I often find myself in an awkward position when advocating for technology use in the schools. After all, I’m not the one in the classroom managing the kids. I’m not the one planning the lessons, having to meet standards, and having to change how to do a job I’ve been doing successfully for years.
I am, however, a partner in my children’s education. Our family makes choices on how we use technology at home. Discussions about digital literacy and responsibility are not uncommon. I’ve been advocating for technology use at school for years, although I didn’t really know it. It started with pushing for acceptance of audio books – and that came from helping kids learn the way they learn best, and not forcing one system on them.
A recent blog post by teacher and author Lisa Nielsen lists 12 was kids can use cell phones for learning. She would know – she (and Willyn Web) just published a book, Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning.
However, the sentence that jumped out at me from this post is one of the rare mentions of the role of parents in integrating technology in schools:
Parents may need to take the lead in allowing their children to use their phones for learning and in educating their teachers and administrators of the value in working toward acceptable use policies.
Wow! That’s the first real encouragement I’ve seen of including parents in the conversation that I’ve seen in the online conversations. Parents aren’t usually mentioned, and if they are, it’s the teachers/administration trying to convince parents that it’s ok to use the tools.
Much of my motivation to get involved came from a short conversation I had with a superintendant of a small district in a rural part of the state. In his short talk at a conference, he talked about how he has successfully worked with the teachers in his schools, and about how essential the parents were in the process. I found him later and asked his advice about being involved. I didn’t want to be seen as an annoyance or to be telling the schools what to do. He told me in no uncertain terms to speak up, to be involved and to keep the conversation going. So I am.
The blog post led me to the authors’ website, www.TeachingGenerationText.com. Right there, on the home page, is a great sentence:
This site is brought you you by Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb in an effort to help teachers, parents, and administrators stop fighting and start working with students to use the tools they own and love for learning.
What a great concept, and one I hope we can see moving forward. Include parents (and students!!!) in the conversation and see where it leads.