Saturday, 27 November 2010

Talking Technology and e-Learning to Parents

I was asked to talk to a group of parents recently about e-Learning. I usually talk to teachers so this was a new experience for me. A small group of parents got it, a lot didn't!
So...what was the problem?
One man said ' I may be old fashioned but what about the 3 'R's! It is an important question, the answer... is that they are still there but are being delivered to students in a different way.

Another thing that bothered me was a parent saying 'My daughter cannot tell me what 7x 4 is, or it takes her a while to think what the answer is (she is obviously using strategies to work it out). I thought to myself 'Well really? How important is it to know what 7x 4 is?' We have calculators available to us everywhere. I know of very successful accountants who don't know their timetables, they use the tools that are available to them to solve the problem. Some parents of today expect their children to be taught as they were taught when they were at school, as this parent said 'I learned by rote and I know my timetables'. The argument could be that this is the type of learner he is, or he has a stronger intelligence in that area but his daughter does not.

 The point is that the skills we need change with time and technology... as a checkout operator in a Supermarket in the late 70s, I had to count back change to customers as per company protocol e.g if an order was $10.30 and they gave me $20 then I had to count back the change to the customer
'$10.30 and 20c is 50, 50c is $11, $2 is $13, $2 is $15 and $5 is $20.00
A few years later machines came in that gave you exactly how much change you needed to give to the customer. That skill I had, has not been used up until this day.

Parents do want to see 1-1 computing. They want children to have their own computers. I see 1-1 computing replacing rows of desks with rows of laptops, and the blackboard of yesteryear is now an IWB. The only difference between the classroom of the early 1900s and now is the technology. I am seeing a lot of teachers using their IWB as the old 'chalk and talk' but that will change as they get more familiar with the software and start creating authentic resources that students can use.

Parents were worried that Handwriting and Spelling would not be in the programme anymore and what was a maths and reading session going to look like. We reassured them that those programmes still happen, the teaching and learning still happen but with the aid of a variety of technologies in a student centred classroom.
Another parent said he was worried about the work load on the teachers, how could they manage 26 students doing different things with lots of equipment in lots of groups. The Principal was able to answer "We teach like that in traditional classrooms!' She went on to explain how we group teach.

Traditional style teaching
  • A group with the teacher for instructional work,
  • A group working on individual specific worksheet/ or reading book activity that had been designed for their group
  • A group on computers individually working through a graphic organiser Character Study
  • A group listening to stories on the listening post
  • A group reading from their group box of books at their level
e-Learning class
  • A group with the teacher for instructional work using iPads to tap out answers to questions teacher asks
  • A group working together in smaller groups on a specific online worksheet/ or reading book activity that had been designed for their group
  • A group on computers (in pairs or threes) working through a graphic organiser Character Study, discussing character traits, looking through the novel in their hands to find more information, sharing their answers
  • A group listening to an audiobook on the iPod via a 5 way splitter whilst reading from the paperback copy at the same time
  • A group choosing from the reading options which could include a variety of activities using technologies or non digital materials
It was interesting to see and hear parents reactions to this way of learning. Human nature is to go with what we know and what we believe works, change is unknown and threatening. We need to think about how we can help parents to transition to this way of learning.
The e learning classroom
View more presentations from Jacqui Sharp.

Since I wrote this post I have come across another blog post by Celia Her post focuses on how parents are reluctant to let their students use social media and their lack of trust in their own children. She reiterates what I observed that there is a sense of fear amongst some parents and a lack of understanding of what social media and Web2.0 tools are.
Jane Danielson is documenting her school's journey into the use of Social Media and how it is becoming an integral part of the communication lines between school and community.


MrWoodnz said...

I can imagine how hard it must be to explain to parents, I struggle to get it across to other teachers.

I have only recently started thinking about the difference between a digital and an e-learning class thanks to your posts.

Although I think you could still have an e-learning with 1:1 laptops, it comes down to how we structure the learning.

Mrs Coffa said...

Strangely enough, I just blogged about my experience as a parent (and teacher) attending a school information night on 1:1 learning.
Sessions like the one you ran will go a long way towards alleviate the fears through knowledge and understanding.

Jacqui Sharp said...

Thanks for the comment Shaun. Yes you are right, it is difficult to 'convert' some teachers, it can be a long process with 'baby' steps! And yes you could be right about structuring the learning with 1-1 laptops. I will be interested to follow your reflections as you progress through the year!

Jacqui Sharp said...

Thanks Celia for your comment. I have linked back to your blog post in my blog. Interestingly your comments about parents saying their kids could be potentially on Facebook all day was the same comment I had from a Principal about teachers being allowed access to Facebook.
' The times are a changing' (Dillon) teachers and parents need to change along with them because their kids have already bought into it.

Dave B said...

Thanks for posting the slideshow digital classroom / elearning classroom ... it has really got me thinking about how I will structure my classroom programme for next year ...