Friday, August 24, 2012

Facebook for Parents

Last week on Wednesday I led a tech orientation session for new parents of Kindergarten students.  At this session parents were introduced to some of the communication tools that ASB uses.  Parents were shown how to access the SIS (student information system) and informed about the importance of keeping their family contact details up to date.  They were shown the online cafeteria system where they can order their children's school meals, and asked to enroll in a free digital toolkit online course so that they would become proficient in many of the tools that we'd like them to use.  As this year we have started a BYOD programme for students, we also encourage parents to bring and register their own devices so that they can connect to the school's network and use them at school.  We want them to be able to add our calendar feeds, for example and to access many of the services provided on the school's dashboard, such as the Board documents.

Another thing that parents are given is a book called Facebook for Parents by Linda Fogg Phillips and Dr. BJ Fogg of Stanford University.  We want our parents to keep up-to-date with the changing lives that their children are living - we don't want there to be a disconnect between the generations.  Actually the school has its own social network - the Community Network ning, where parents can join groups for their children's class and access discussion groups around a variety of topics of interest to people who are relocating to Mumbai - where to find household help such as nannies and drivers, for example, or medical matters.

Our teachers use a variety of Web 2.0 tools to communicate with parents.  My experience in setting up websites, blogs and so on as a way of connecting with parents has always been positive.  In general I've found that parents love looking at photos of what their children are doing, and often these photos serve as a prompt for meaningful conversations at home about what is going on during the school day.  Parents have commented to me that it's also a great way for them to get to know the other children in the class, and that it's a valuable tool for connecting their extended families, for example grandparents who are living in their home country, with what the students are doing.

Last week one of our Kindergarten teachers showed me a Facebook group that she has set up for parents in her class.  She was very proud of the fact that every parent in the class has joined this group and that every parent is happy for her to post photos and videos of what the students are doing each day.  In an upcoming blog post I'm going to write more about the steps she has gone through to set up this group.

Facebook for parents is yet another way that my school stands out from the crowd.  Every day that I am here, every day that I see the amazing things that our teachers and students are doing with technology, I feel validated in my decision to come here.  Truly, I am blessed.

Photo Credit:  A Conversation by Khalid Albaih, 2011 Attribution

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