Communication is often key for schools looking to increase student success and build better relationships with parents. Though most schools feel that they can address all their communications needs only by creating and updating a website, many have found that solely relying on websites leaves much to be desired. Here’s why:
- Websites are static. Across the nation, extreme budget cuts are forcing school administrators, teachers, and officials to make tough decisions about issues such as cutting programs, reducing salaries, and expanding class sizes. Not only can most schools not afford to create a professionally-designed website, but the whole issue of parent-school communication often gets pushed to the back burner. Websites’ static content and hard-to-navigate pages make it both difficult and burdensome for parents and students to find the information they need, on time.
- Parents are busy. This generation of parents is said to be the busiest one yet, and schools need to make sure that they can stay in contact with these parents who are constantly on the go. When schools need a quick way to send information to parents, they don’t usually rely on their websites to get the word out- and for good reason. Now that everyone is busy, schools need to make sure that all parents-whether they’re working two jobs or one, traveling or commuting-have easy access to the information they need.
- Smartphones usage is increasing. More and more people are using their smartphones and smartphone apps to accomplish daily tasks. According to Business Insider, web use conducted on mobile devices as opposed to on computers has been climbing steadily since 2009, and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. It’s evident that schools trying to modernize and consolidate their communications systems shouldn’t ignore the prospect of mobile solutions.
What do you think? Is it smarter for schools to focus on communicating with smartphone-based parents? Are school websites destined to be a thing of the past?Let us know in the comments!
Facebook (Photo credit: stoneysteiner)
We’ve already touched upon the idea of schools using social media to communicate in some of our other posts. Recently, however, we heard that some schools and school districts have been using Facebook and/or Twitter to communicate with parents and teachers, and our curiosity got the better of us.
Should more schools follow the example set by the Birmingham Public School District and begin using social media more extensively?
- The district began using more online media to improve communication with parents- and it seems to be working. Parents who follow a school, teacher, or school district in Twitter could be able to get an “inside” look at the classroom that they don’t usually get to experience.
- Parents can easily access the information they need through user-friendly social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
- Using social media can help establish bonds betweeen teachers and parents, as well as allow parents to more conveniently communicate with each other.
However, there are also quite a few reasons for schools not to get involved with social media:
- Using so many different platforms to distribute information could become very confusing and/or troublesome. If you want to find important news about your school, where should you check first?
- There’s no real way for parents to guarantee that the information on Twitter or Facebook is relevant to them- and they might get tired of schools “spamming” their pages with updates that they aren’t very interested in.
- Using social media can certainly use up a lot of time for school officials (and even money), without noticeable benefits. Is it really worth all the trouble?
- It’s always possible that schools might face security issues.
As the results are mixed, it’s too early to make any judgements on the success of such a program- but we’d love to hear your thoughts! Would you follow your child’s school on Twitter? “Like” it on Facebook? Why or why not?
English: Northwestern High School students, staff, and parents partaking in the Fiesta Latino in the Food Court, an annual fundraising event sponsored by the schools’ choir. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A recent edweek article focused on a growing trend in public schools: Parents being pushed to help schools cover their costs. Many public school districts are seeing an uptick in the number and amount of private donations from parents. Though the extra funds certainly help schools, many see the trend as more of a problem than a solution.
- Not all parents can afford to donate to schools. Since different areas vary in socio-economic status, this can lead to inequity between districts and even between different schools. Not only does this affect district and state-wide decisions in terms of funding, but it gives certain schools in certain areas even more of an edge over other schools. Though they can’t help it, many parents can find that they’re making education for some students better than for others.
- Parents are doing a job they shouldn’t have to do. Many parents end up facing a Morton’s fork: they can either donate money to their school, or they can refuse to donate and instead let their school, as well as their child’s education, suffer. As was pointed out in the article, many districts see parent donations as an income source that they can fall back on.
- Parental Engagement isn’t all about money. A growing number of parents, especially those in lower-income areas, are beginning to find that the ideas are changing about what constitutes Parental Engagement- and not for the better. Instead of focusing on increasing parental involvement in school activities, schools are getting parents involved through donations. While it is important for schools to raise funds, this might cause parents to think that donations are the only way to “get involved with a school”. Furthermore, schools are ignoring the most important benefit of parental engagement in school activities: student success. That’s something that money can’t quite buy.
Learning can be fun – Using a ready reckoner – working out compound interest (Photo credit: theirhistory)
I was recently shown this article, about how we measure “School Quality” and the ways it might change in the future. The author brought up some interesting points (What makes one school better than another? Why? Does location matter in determining school success?) that are sure to interest parents and teacher alike. Here are a few ideas I gathered from the article:
- Though school funding is an important factor in determining a school’s quality, you can’t generalize the quality of all schools in a region based on funding. I live in Arizona, a state with one of the lowest per-student funding levels. Even though my hometown is home to quite a few struggling school districts, it’s also known for two nationally-ranked high schools. It’s true that there might be other differences between the struggling schools and the thriving ones- some are charter, some have different course structures, etc.- but the wide disparity among the number of schools in my city definitely proves that we can’t generalize based on location or funding.
- Technology is leveling the playing field. As services like Khan Academy and Coursera grow in popularity, the idea that a good education is linked to certain zip codes is certain to decline. These new services allow students in even the most disadvantaged areas to learn and study from home. If we measure school success by student standardized test scores, it’s easy to recognize the enormous power that new technologies could have over schools.
- Parental Engagement is always a factor. The author writes that parental engagement continues to be essential for student success, “regardless of a child’s socio-economic background or where she goes to school”. Though there are several qualities that may cause us to think one school is better than another- higher test scores, better teachers, nicer facilities, etc.-the roles parents play in their child’s education are often the most important ones.
Do you think that our ideas about what makes successful school-and successful students- are changing? As always, we’d love to hear your ideas!