My Quest To Teach

September 16, 2010

DCPS Digital Tools for Parents

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 3:02 am

As a School Technology Contact and a Community Education
technology teacher at Paxon High School for Advanced Studies
I try to educate parents concerning this era of digital
connection not just for causal social contact in the social
media realm, but in the importance of contact parents
need to be with their child’s teacher. 

Duval County Public Schools has invested millions of dollars
in the infrastructure, implementation and integration
(the three I’s) of technology and making communication
more efficient and effective for parents to take advantage
of the digital resources made available.

The Internet has created a paradigm shift for parents
who desire or need reliable communication with their child
or children’s teachers. Digital communication is becoming
more of a luxury, the emersion of ISP
(internet service providers), WSP (wireless service providers)
and the availability of handheld communication devices is
common place in our society.

People are Twittering, Texting, Facebooking, Digging, and
Calling each other on cell phone technology that was only
seen on The Jetsons, Star Trek and other SciFi shows a
few short decades ago.

Now more than ever parents using email and social media
tools have the ability to communicate with teachers on a
continuous basis as never before. Libraries, local colleges,
churches and many public schools provide
Internet access for free. So when a parent makes the
erroneous statement that they do not have access to the
Internet to check their child’s grades,attendance and
behavior it brings pause to the rationalization that with
available resources they can check on their child’s
progress in school.

Digital access studies have shown that more than 60%
of homes in the United States have access to the Internet
and growing as more ISP’s become available with wireless
access.

School districts like DCPS have taken advantage of the
Internet, using webpage’s, blogs, wikis, social media sites
and other Internet technologies to allow parents access to
their children or child’s academic records current and past. 

If parents are still unaware of the availability in the use
of technology the use of the Parent Portal is a website
tool for parents/guardians to see individual student
information, including grades, attendance, a school
calendar and much more. The access to the online
Gradebook section allows parents and students instant
access to their grades, and saves teachers and
administrators time from manually processing
and documenting grades.

These digital tools allows teachers and administrators
to collaborate and effectively communicate with parents
on their children’s performance. To access tools, parents
will need to register for a login and password at their
child’s school. Parents can access the portal from any
computer with direct Internet access. Some schools have
added kiosks for parents who don’t have easy access
to computers.

Using Facebook & Twitter is very popular with school
districts to communicate to their parents and within
the community. Join DCPS on Facebook and follow on
Twitter by searching for Duval County Public Schools
or DuvalSchools. These pages are updated regularly
with school and district news, emergency messages
and information about current events.

These social media avenues have evolved from just
posting information on a personal level to being used
as tools for direct connection with parents and guardians.
DCPS eNews is the district’s monthly electronic
newsletter containing important school and district
news. The public can Sign up and get connected to the
latest school news and information.

ParentLink is a web and telephone based notification
service that is capable of delivering messages via
telephone to our students and parents. Reminders
can be sent to the registered phone numbers parents
use for emergency contact and communication for
schools. Even the digital photo gallery Flickr is used
to host district’s photo galleries. By visiting DCPS
website and clicking on the flickr icon, the community
will have access to online photo albums from
school events.

In the support of struggling schools parents have these
tools to interact with teachers to check on their children,
if they take advantage of the available technology. There
are many issues as to why students are struggling
especially minority students and poverty is addressed
as the results of low achievement, but poverty is a factor,
but it isn’t an excuse for failing schools or students,
said Trey Csar, President of the Jacksonville Public
Education Fund, “We are where we are, not because
of poverty, but because of our lack of response to poverty,”
Csar said.

Until parents and students start to value education
more and take a stand to improve themselves there will
continue to be struggles and challenges. Even at the
elementary level where I teach parents are encouraged
to check on their child’s grades by using online tools that
are immediate and available 24 hours a day.

I update our ParentLink at least twice a week with
reminders, important calendar events and if need be
emergency information to parents and even staff.
Duval County Public Schools is a district of approximately
123,000 students and soon over 166 schools. There are
challenges, but many challenges can be overcome by
proactive involvement by parents, not reactive
when progress reports show failing grades and behavior
challenges.

Our lives and those of our children are forever changed
because of the interactive web technology that permeates
society. We live in a hyper-technology evolution,
communication is not limited to text, audio capabilities,
graphical presentations and video capability, the ability
to reach out and digitally touch a person creating an
emotional and cognitive connection that even
enhances a parents connection to their children.
The change in the web comes in the form of the needs
of the public.

According to Tim O’Reilly from the O’Reilly Media
Web 2.0, Educational institutions no longer
can be neglected and in some cases dominate the
web for access to information.
The inventor of the World Wide Web Tim
Berners-Lee has witnessed changes in the few
short years that has encouraged substantial change
in the mind sets, connectivity by people  and
interaction between parents and teachers.

Schools are embracing social networks, wikis, blogs,
tweets, folksonomies (bookmarking or tagging information
on the web), opened up the flood gates to allow
communication in a two way environment and in some
cases instantaneously. Parents need more than ever
to take advantage of access to make sure their children
are not only learning, but make a positive contribution
to the learning environment.

Teachers are empowered with tools that many wish they
had years ago, instead of just picking up the phone to
call while addressing behavior issues or learning challenges
a parent can now digitally document successes, growth,
weaknesses, and accomplishments of their children.

The importance of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) is
now understood in FCAT assessment in grading. Teachers
using Oncourse can post their grades, lessons and calendar
of events online for parents to view.  Parents can see
when work folders are due, agendas need to be sighed,
science, history or other projects need to be worked on
or finished.

The list goes on with the use of technology to provide
up to date information. Parents have new opportunities
in a digital urbanization of connectivity for teachers
that had not existed before. Human and computer
collaborations are created in fields that were not
thought of nor explored.

The need to understand the power
and empowerment of technology is important
in this rapidly growing global economy,
technology is the great equalizer and
empowers. Technology knows no gender,
color, nationality or cultural heritage.

Technology has the capability to encourage original
thoughts and dreams, technology encourages ways to
compete on a scale that is national and global for our
students. The use of technology allows for independent
thinking, the development of pride in the production
of a skill. Allowing self-respect to develop in self that
enhances a person’s view of him/her self, the world
and their culture.

Borrowing the motto of E3 Business Group. Inc.
To Educate, Encourage and Empower; parents now
have tools that empower them and encourage more
interaction. The are being educated on school policies
and procedures.

Parents use what you have and appreciate the access.

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