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Do school-to-home websites favour tech savvy families?

4 years ago

3 experts and 1 parent have answered

Anita Naik writer
Anita Naik Writer and mum of two London, UK

Virtual learning environments can certainly benefit pupils, but if families don’t understand the system – or don’t have internet access – the results can be divided.

A virtual learning environment has just been launched with much fanfare at my daughter’s school. Managed by the staff it is a well-designed online area with great user experience (for a change), which allows my daughter’s teachers to pass over learning resources, and links to this year’s curriculum.

The key is to raise pupil attainment by making resources accessible both at home and at school. And for parents of kids like mine who routinely say: ‘I don’t remember’ or ‘nothing’ when asked what they learnt today, it’s a godsend.

However, discussing the greatness of this venture on the school run, I realised quite quickly that website is only great if you’re a tech savvy parent who has an interest in how technology can advance education.

If you’re someone who never uses computers at work or at home (quite a few parents) or has all the latest equipment – iPad, Nexus 7 etc - but not much computer literacy (again, more parents than you might think) the platform is proving to be a nightmare.

Complaints so far include not knowing what to do with the links, how to login, and/or how to get back into the platform once a link has been accessed. Answering an impromptu Q&A I realised that perhaps what’s needed is not a step back in time but a routine parent tech training session at school.

One that not only offers a step-by-step guide to how to use these websites but also helps parents to see the many advantages of the digital age for education. It’s something already offered on a regular basis to parents for phonics (which school’s realized was essential if they wanted phonics to work and literacy rates to go up), so why not for tech too?

But what do you think? Are you a fan of school-to-home websites or do feel it’s just one more thing to for time-starved parents to do?

4 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Valerie Thompson expert
Valerie Thompson Chief Executive Chertsey, GB
Education expert

I totally agree that many schools could do so much more to help parents support their children's learning. And a one size fits all approach will always disadvantage families who lack the confidence and know-how to make the most of resources in digital format. And of course 700,000 children can't go online at home from a computer, so the school VLE and the Internet is irrelevant for these families.

This calls for a shift in how schools define parental engagement. Less of the emphasis on parents evenings, and assumptions that all families can go online (and know what to do when they have), and more about a pro-active approach by schools with special attention to under-achieving and disadvantaged pupils.

Not sure about the time-starved parents angle - surely your child's education comes before pretty much everything else? The influence parents have on their children's academic success is immense. Research shows that bright children with supportive families will overcome the influence of a poor performing school.

3 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Terry Doherty expert
Terry Doherty Parent literacy expert US

Both @AnitaNaik and @ValerieThompson hit the nail on the head: not everyone has access to the internet.

As much as I would love to have more content on our school interweb so we could work through the "snow days," it is not realistic. Teachers can't set expectations or assignments when only 85% - or less - have the ability to even DO it at home. The library isn't an answer either, because the kids can't drive themselves there.

0 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
David Sheppard expert
David Sheppard school teacher GB
Education expert

A VLE is a good addition to the variety of tools, on and offline, a pupil can access with regard to their learning. A VLE is also 'safe' (theoretically) and provides a foundation for later adding other online tools to help develop learning. Eg with personal social media /other accounts (like delicious bookmarks, interest based lists within twitter, using evernote as a kind of scrapbook etc).

0 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago

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