The parents/teacher relationship used to happen once a term at parents’ evenings when every parent can have 5 minutes with each teacher to discuss a whole term’s work, while the next parents in the queue eavesdropped.
These new-fangled communications technologies we’re always talking about mean that schools can be in near-constant contact with parents to send reminders and messages and help keep their kids’ education and welfare on the straight and narrow:
A free app that allows teachers to safely send text messages to parents and students regarding homework project, deadlines and school activities, organizing those messages by subject. Telephone numbers are not seen (making it safe for everyone) and you can easily archive the message history. You can also send voice mails and icons – meaning it is inclusive for parents who don’t share English as their first language.
Buzzmob is a location-based platform that connects the wider school community (administrators, teachers, parents and students) and, again, offers the opportunity to send reminders and information on key aspects of school life.
Class messenger is another form of direct, two-way messaging that strengthens the connection between parents and teachers and allows both parties to communicate about a student’s potential, progress, strengths, struggles and so forth. It can be used on a phone, computer or table. Parents can join a class and engage in a dialogue with teachers who can send test results, reminders, photos and even videos.
A Google+ for the classroom in which teachers can create groups and share documents to be viewed and edited by that class as well as have hangouts, share calendars and launch websites. Anyone in that group can see all their classes, find assignment deadlines, download files and contact the teacher, including parents, if they’re included.
VolunteerSpot is aimed at providing wider support to the school community – it helps an app that helps organize group meetings, e-mails, and parent-teacher meetings as well as organizing volunteers for events and trips and parent chaperones.
Arguably the best known of the lot, with more than 35 million users – around half the schools in the US are using it. It captures and generates data on behaviour that teachers can share with parents and administrators, while helping teachers inform parents about behaviour they want to encourage at home as well, for example, “helping others” and “persistence”.
Hugely popular, not least as a result of its apparent familiarity – it looks and works a lot like Facebook. It lets parents, teachers and students to communicate and collaborate by sending messages, sharing photos, setting calendar reminders and much more.
In the US, Edmodo has been supporting teachers with their preparation for the Common Core Educational Standards by launching Snapshot, a free tool that delivers a clear picture of students’ performance data. In the UK, they have gone for a content partnership with Cambridge University Press, aimed at creating “standard-aligned content” to help with the new curricula, launching later this year