Parent Engagement and Social Media

Like many of my fellow Edu-bloggers, my posts often reflect both my parent and teacher perspective. As a parent,  I worry that my children, while in school,  are not experiencing the realities that technologies offers in the real world. As a parent, I worry that my children are being limited at school and are not accessing their full potential due to both the lack of infrastructure in schools, as well as the lack of teacher education around the use of social media tools as educational resources and literacies. As a teacher, my worry for my students is mostly about online safety (although I also worry that we are missing a big opportunity to prioritize a medium that has become dominant for most of our children). I know that my students are using social media the moment school ends (Facebook, Twitter, texting, MMORPG’s…. ).
But who is teaching these skills? Most schools are not explicitly teaching online social media skills to students. If they are, it is taught as a lesson or unit (ie: cyber bullying) and not practiced authentically- as part of daily learning and socializing. So, if schools are not teaching them – are parents? Some are. Some want to. Some are not sure what to teach, because they don’t know it themselves. Mostly, kids are teaching themselves and each other. I am not comfortable with that. And so, I am committed to helping other parents understand their tech savvy kids – so that they are better equipped to support and direct them – if and when their child is confronted with a tough online situation. I also want parents to see the beauty in the web. It is not just a “dangerous” place, but a place for creativity, design, collaboration, sharing and learning. The following resource was part of a presentation for a group of parents at the Waterloo District School Board, also committed to better understanding their tech savvy kid.

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4 Replies to “Parent Engagement and Social Media”

  1. I too want “parents to see the beauty in the web”. I think the more you can explore the possibilities with parents the more pressure they will in turn put on the system to “shift”. You’ve covered lots of great examples that go beyond what readily comes to mind for parents – thanks for sharing your ideas Zoe.

  2. I love the warning at the start of the presentation. I think parents tend to shy away from it all because they themselves don’t have an understanding of social media/new technologies in general. The fact that parents avoid it is even more of a reason for schools to be teaching these skills though!

  3. Zoe, it so exciting to see you take up the challenge of working with parents to understand the potential of using web 2.0 tools at school and at home. There is usually a huge learning curve for parents not just in using the tool but also developing an approach to learning and work which includes collaboration, self-motivation and discovery. When their children are involved, as you have so easily demonstrated, that leaning curve decreases. Hope your good example will rub off on many. BRAVO!!

  4. As a parent of 7 and 10-yr-old boys, husband of an elementary school principal and a communications professional, I can really relate to this post. One of the biggest challenges with social media in schools is the same as with any organization: getting decision makers to see how social tools can help them achieve their objectives. Since one of their key objectives is to get kids excited about, and engaged in, their education, people like you sharing personal experiments with your kids, like Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu), is invaluable. You help folks find things that actually work in the enormous pile of suggestions and marketing hype. Thanks! Now, time to go try Scratch with the boys…

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