I’ve moved!!

While it was neither easy nor painless (except the actual WP install), I have moved this blog to my own new web site.

Please visit my website at http://tech4learning.ca where you can follow the link to my blog, or go to my blog directly at http://blog.tech4learning.ca.

It’s all still a work in progress, so I welcome your feedback.

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Schools engaging with Parents: Research says…

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Parent Engagement in K-12 Schools. What has struck me is the relative lack of controversy in the literature.

There are two consistent themes in the literature:

1. The parent engagement models are both limited and validated in the research. Parents want to engage, engagement declines over the schools years, and there is a positive correlation between parent involvement and school achievement.

2. Teachers and principal need help to build successful partnerships with parents. Teachers are not equally comfortable with the use of social learning tools. So, if technology is to be used in parent engagement, we will need to train the teachers not only in the practice of parent engagement but also provide support for the technologies they will use.

Improvement Cycle School Family PartnershipsI have also come to realize that the relationship between school practice, research and policy and legislation is one of continuous, or adaptive, improvement. Innovation drives changing school practice, academic inquiry about the successes of innovative school practice drives research, public opinion fueled by the research data drives change in policy and legislation. Policy and legislation requires changes to school practice.

One piece of feedback I have received is that the improvement cycle assumes that parents and teachers WANT to be involved. I think the research is saying parents want to be involved (if one can extrapolate that every parent wants the best for his/her child) but don’t know how, and that teachers aren’t hearing the research (although some get it intuitively or through experience) so aren’t motivated and also don’t know how to engage.

I am posing these questions in an effort to validate my assumptions. Can you help?

    As a teacher, have you experienced any formal or informal preparation for involving parents in their children’s learning?

    As a parent, where do you look for support in engaging with your child’s school?

Or propose an alternate conclusion. This is a work in progress.

Social Networking – New Research

The UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) has just published new quantitative and qualitative research on social networking in the report Social Networking
A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use
.

The report categorizes users and non-users:

Users:

  • Alpha Socialisers (a minority) – people who used sites in intense short bursts to flirt, meet new people, and be entertained.
  • Attention Seekers – (some) people who craved attention and comments from others, often by posting photos and customising their profiles.
  • Followers – (many) people who joined sites to keep up with what their peers were doing.
  • Faithfuls – (many) people who typically used social networking sites to rekindle old friendships, often from school or university.
  • Functionals – (a minority) people who tended to be single-minded in using sites for a particular purpose.

Non-users:

  • Concerned about safety – people concerned about safety online, in particular making personal details available online.
  • Technically inexperienced – people who lack confidence in using the internet and computers.
  • Intellectual rejecters – people who have no interest in social networking sites and see them as a waste of time.

These categories are similar to those reported by Alec Couros in his post Digital Footprint: Where Do You Fit In? about the Pew/Internet study. This Ofcom report provides a more detailed categorization but the themes are the same.

The Ofcom report also provides a balanced approach to the risk analysis. It supports the study published in American Psychologist, Internet “Predators” and their Victims, that separates the safety risk from the actual incidents. (See also Kevin Jarrett’s post for a commentary.)

The report includes a significant literature review, but also indicates there remain gaps in the research, intimating that behaviour may have geographically, and presumably then culturally, based differences. I found this latter comment intriguing – do social networks remove time and space from relationships? are they a reflection of real life? does the networking site itself reflect a particular use? My Twitter network is not geographically bound, but I am aware of many teens that use social networking sites as a social organizing tool.

This work makes an important contribution to the growing body of evidence about social networking, but still perhaps asks as many questions as it answers.