A question was posted regarding how the home-to-school connection (I also like calling this “teacher-to-home communication”) is coming along with new technologies and schools. Talk about a “rock and a hard place.”
I think there are a few factors that make the seemingly simple act of communicating through Web 2.0 more difficult than we would like to think.
1) TIME- yes, teachers in a lot of school systems have access to their own teacher web pages (or at least a building web page). However, how much time and money has been allotted to teaching the teachers how to use those pages? For some, this won’t be that big of an issue. For others, this is a very, very steep learning curve.
Also, it takes time to populate that web page, even when it’s a template-based system. If I want to make sure students can see a copy of the assignments we did in class, whether the student was absent or just misplaced the assignment, that will take time for me to add to the web page. Teachers already have minimal planning time for instruction. When do they find the time to add to their web pages? And what about Wikis? Blogs? Photo-sharing sites? TeacherTube?
2) INTERNET SAFETY- like it or not, it’s a federal requirement that schools keep kids safe . In some districts, that means blocking most of what we consider Web 2.0 tools. Our district blocks a lot of blogs, wikis, and photo-sharing sites because they aren’t regulated or moderated. My personal opinion, which I’ve posted many times, is that we can’t teach kids to use the internet safely when we block everything, but federal funding speaks louder than those of us “trying to make a point.” Regardless of my opinion, the situation is some Web 2.0 tools simply aren’t available in public schools.
3) USE by Parents & Students- if a teacher communicates through Web 2.0 tools ( for this example, let’s assume the teacher uses a wiki published on the web), will the students use it? Will the parents use it? Maybe a better question is: will the parents and/or students who need this communication MOST actually use it? There are so many factors here, it’s nearly impossible to know. Important questions to consider: do the families have internet access? if they do have access, will they check the wiki page every day? If they don’t have internet access, then what?
On top of all those issues, there is a HUGE divide between what some parents know and are able to do with Web 2.0… compared to what their kids know and are able to do. Web 2.0 education for the families is another need. Do parents and kids know they can add to a wiki? Or leave a comment on a blog post? Or comment on an instructional video on TeacherTube? Again, this is another learning curve that requires attention.
I don’t have any magic answers or solutions, but I do see some issues that we could begin to tackle. Dialogues need to occur amongst learning communities about how we should/could be communicating with Web 2.0.
Short side note: As a parent, I appreciate Web 2.0 as communication… and I use it. But a) I understand how to use it, b) I’m not blocked from using it, and c) I have access at home to it. How many of your students’ parents are like me?