Technology In The Classroom Can Be Scary For Parents Too
Often overlooked is parental fear about technology in the classroom. While teachers are getting more and more excited about innovative products like Bloxels, FligGrid, Buncee and countless others, they often forget that they share the children in the classroom with other adults, the parents. As students, teachers and administrators become more excited about new technology tools to use in class, some parents become anxious, and skeptical.
A lot of this skepticism comes from access to the internet and the types of tools students and teachers are using in the classroom. People are often most afraid of things they don’t understand are aren’t familiar with. Some parents fear of 1:1 device programs isn’t access at all, but rather their own personal beliefs and their rights as parents to manage what their children see or don’t see. Another factor to consider is multi child homes, not necessarily with just brothers and sisters but mixed families, foster families and group homes.
While many people consider high speed internet to be a commodity there according to the Pew Research Center 37% of Americans still don’t have internet at home. Smartphones are off-setting access to the internet in some homes, but with most smartphones the owner of the device, or the primary user, lives in their own silo of their own customized content.
Schools in rural areas typically know how to address the socioeconomic issues behind lack of internet at home. Typically in rural areas where there’s no high speed internet at home, it’s widespread across a large portion of the children. The same is true for the opposite side, in most affluent, upper income economies, every household has internet access, and multiple screens and devices. The tricky part is middle America where a class of 18 will have six kids in multi-device internet households, six with some internet and access to devices and another six without anything at all.
A common misconception is that 1:1 device programs solve all of these issues, and in theory they do, but that iPad that Johnny needs to do his algebra homework on, or that Chromebook that Jane needs to use to play a Kahoot for school, may quickly become a source of turmoil and angst amongst other children in the house and even parents or caretakers.
Discussion is always best when addressing the issues of technology in the classroom. A good thing to do for parents and guardians is to hold an open house with a technology focus. Show them the tools the students will be using in class, what they do and even how parents can monitor their children’s progress. For me personally, getting to ride my bike in the coolness of a sunset was dependent on mom or dad verifying that I had completed on my homework and checking the work to the best of their abilities. Parents of digital students would love the opportunity to do that.
Show off what the students are doing. Has your class created green screen videos, are they uploaded to a private server, parents would love to see their kids doing their digital projects. Are you using FlipGrid, show parents how each student has a voice, invite them in.
Explain filtering. What content filters does your school employ? How deep can the filters go? Filters like Blocksi are able to filter beyond the normal and dive into limiting access to YouTube videos and scanning for keywords that can lead to depression, acting out or even cyber bullying.
What can parents do at home?
Make sure that parents know how they can access the apps and digital tools the students are using in class and for homework.
Let them know how they too can control access for their student. Blocksi features the ability to take a school’s filtering home, so whether the student is using the device on school grounds or in their bedroom they are still governed by the school’s filtering rules. Not only that but with Blocksi parents can institute their own filtering rules, like restricting internet access past, say 10:00pm or blocking access to video game servers and YouTube videos.
The biggest thing to understand is that parental fear about 1:1 devices and students having access to the internet outside of a parents control, extends way beyond porn and making bombs. The hardest thing for many teachers to understand is that they didn’t grow up in a time where kids had so much access.