Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Parenting 2.0 is really 1.0 - faster

Sometimes serendipity is not so serendipitous.

Yesterday I received the new T.H.E Journal and the cover story is "The Power of Parenting 2.0". Lately I have been working on focusing my thoughts on the power of parent communication and collaboration through online content. So when I saw the cover I was really excited. I figured I would have some great new groundbreaking insights to digest.


It wasn't until I read the article and looked closer at the sub line on the cover that I realized my mistake. The focus of the article is on Notification tools and SIS systems and the power of informing parents about grades, attendance, discipline and other issues. They did this in February as well in another article.

I get what they are getting at. There is great power about informing parents about problems and successes as they happen. It is similar to the differences between formative and summative assessment. Reinforce or change when the time is right.

My problem isn't with better communication. My problem is that it isn't Parenting 2.0. It is parenting 1.0 faster. The parent is still not able to communicate back thoughts, feelings, suggestions, or to be involved at the level that I think technology allows them to be.

What most emergency notification systems and SIS portals provide is only half of the picture. They are just a quicker version of a report card or newsletter. They need to be combined with a couple of other things:
  1. Content - Good reliable information that provides a full picture of the curriculum goals, events, and expectations in a class.
  2. Communication - A way to get a question back to a teacher about the information that was provided. Focusing on 2-way communication -
    1. Teachers listening to feedback - not just pushing information at the student and parent.
    2. Parents taking the initiative to be involved in their child's learning and telling their child that they expect them to succeed.
    3. Students - believing that they are the ones that control their performance and future and having the ability to tell the adults in their world what they need to succeed.
  3. Collaboration - Making sure that students, parents, and teachers are all well informed and are able to be involved in the learning process.
  4. Expectations - There should be some clear ground rules that we all live up to in our classrooms that are focused on helping the student to learn.
Is web 2.0 a requirement for parenting/teaching/learning 2.0?


Good teachers, parents, and students have used these strategies forever. Integrating technology makes it faster, more engaging, fluid, and did I mention faster?

I remember Ian Jukes saying that the first step in any technology is replacing what we did before with a faster and easier way of doing it. The memo became the email. He says technology really impacts education when it leads us to be able to do things that we could never do before, like multimedia online presentations.

The problem here is we are still trying to use technology to do something that isn't new. We could have been doing this all along without technology.

But we haven't. At least not all, or even most, of us.

What the technology will allow us to do in this case is something that we could have been doing, should have been doing, but in most cases weren't.

Now that's a breakthrough.


Denise D. Witmer said...

Very interesting point. As a parent, I am liking the faster version of communication with my daughter's teachers.

Mark said...

You are right: it's only faster, not necessarily better. All of the online tools won't make a bit of difference if parents don't take an interest in their children's education. Parents like Denise will have academically successful children because they have shown that interest, whether or not the faster communication was there in the first place.

Jeannine said...

Serendipity brought me here today (really a link on the movingforward wiki)- glad to have found you though.

I agree that web 2.0 tools should allow us as parents to engage with teachers - to communicate and collaborate on content and expectations.

I've speculated on my blog that what parents are really looking for when they want students to have homework is a real connection to the learning that is happening (or not) in the classroom.

BTW, I'm part of the Parent 2.0 wiki, the Parents as Partners Ning and a chat room regular on the Parents as Partners webcast - we are a group of parents working with teachers to have parents more involved and engaged in learning.

Looking forward to reading your ideas and watching the videos you are considering producing!