From iPads to interactive learning apps, “EdTech” (Education Technology) is coming to your child’s classroom and, as parents, you need to be ready. That means knowing more than what type of technology is being used; it means having an understanding of how your child is using it – and how you can best support them along the way.
What does EdTech look like in a classroom setting? For kindergarten students, EdTech can take the shape of creative apps like Seesaw
and community sharing applications like Google Communities that invite parents to witness work being done in class. Older students may be encouraged to build their own online portfolio using tools like Google Classroom
before moving into digital note-taking, online quizzes and video conferencing apps that allow them to connect with classrooms halfway around the world. Yes, it’s pretty amazing. But it can also be pretty scary for parents, raising legitimate concerns about security, privacy infringements and uncensored browsing.
So, how exactly do you go about making sure you’re in the know when it comes to technology being used in your child’s classroom, and what do you do once you are? Here are 4 useful tips for supporting your child’s e-learning at any age:
Reach out to Teachers
Trying to elicit meaningful information from kids of any age can be challenging, so make it a priority early on in the school year to open the lines of communication between you and your child’s teacher(s). Introduce yourself. and ask how information will be shared with students and parents and how updates will be sent. Parent information night is a great way to get the dialogue going and to talk about any initial concerns you have about the use of technology in the classroom. And if you’re still not getting the information you need, don’t be afraid to reach out.
Discuss Technology with Your Child
Once you’ve been brought up to speed by the teachers, ask your child to walk you through each of the programs being used in the classroom. Let them, teach you. Empowering your child and engaging in open, honest dialogue makes it easier to discuss the risks associated with online activity and can help in the transition from educational to social platforms later on.
Talk About Safety
At a young age, students learn accountability by signing agreements on how to use and care for technology. But apart from the possibility of damaging a $1000+ piece of hardware, what do they know about appropriate or safe online behaviour? While it’s expected that teachers discuss cyber-safety in the classroom at an early age (check out this great Cybersmart Challenge promoted by the Government of Australia), parents play an important role when it comes to informing their children of digital best practices. Do your own research and come up with a list of questions surrounding privacy and security measures being taken across all platforms then reach out to teachers and have the discussion. Knowing what’s being taught in the classroom allows you to reinforce the messaging at home. Equally if not more importantly, knowing what is not being addressed in the classroom allows you to fill in the relevant gaps as required.
Invite Technology in the Home
Try to embrace the use of technology in the home by exploring online learning together. If your kid is being asked to hop on a new platform, why not sign up too? Whether it’s signing up for Snapchat or joining a webinar, having a basic understanding of EdTech tools makes it easier to stay in the know. After all, it’s not just kids who are being asked to get comfortable with the technological shift. From online payment and pizza orders to homework that requires parental supervision, support or feedback, the best way to support your kids is to stay open-minded and embrace the changes you know are coming.