Apps in class

Par­ent-teacher mes­sag­ing: ap­peal­ing or ap­palling? by Mackenzie Patterson

Bayview Post - - Kids -

Tech­nol­ogy’s role in the class­room is be­com­ing more preva­lent with apps like Class Dojo, which par­ents, teach­ers and stu­dents can use to com­mu­ni­cate pri­vately, share progress up­dates and track be­hav­iour.

Al­though some say tools like Class Dojo are help­ful for keep­ing par­ents in the loop, oth­ers ar­gue that the use of tech­nol­ogy in class­rooms is over­step­ping bound­aries and mak­ing “he­li­copter par­ent­ing” too easy.

Alyson Schafer, fam­ily coun­sel­lor, au­thor and par­ent­ing expert, says apps like Class Dojo are un­nec­es­sary and im­pinge on stu­dents’ in­de­pen­dent learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Hon­estly I don’t see any pos­i­tives from this app. I only see neg­a­tives,” she says. “I’m all for in­for­ma­tion and shar­ing and com­mu­nity, but the level of in­tru­sion into the class­room of a par­ent through this app is too high, in my opinion.”

Schafer says tech­nol­ogy is al­ready enough of a dis­trac­tion. Apps like Class Dojo put pres­sure on teach­ers to be in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with par­ents, which could take away from teach­ing time.

“I think that, from a time man­age­ment per­spec­tive, it means less time for the teacher to con­nect gen­uinely with the stu­dents in real time,” she says.

Michael Ianni-Palar­chio, di­rec­tor of IT at Brank­some Hall, says the teach­ers mostly use the Brank­some por­tal to com­mu­ni­cate with par­ents, but they also use a third party app called See­saw for stu­dents in ju­nior kinder­garten to Grade 6.

“When it comes to par­ents, our ob­jec­tive is re­ally to keep them en­gaged with the school so they can par­tic­i­pate in that learn­ing process with their girls,” he says. “We look to meet 21st-cen­tury par­ents where they are, but our phi­los­o­phy is that, at the end of the day, stu­dents are ac­count­able for their work.”

Whit­ney Baker, sec­ondary school teacher and men­tor for the Toronto District School Board’s Dig­i­tal Lead Learner pro­gram, notes that with all tech­nol­ogy, bound­aries are nec­es­sary re­gard­less of an app’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. He says that apps in the class­room aren’t the real is­sue — it’s how they’re used.

“I think that with any tech­nol­ogy peo­ple can mes­sage peo­ple when­ever they want to. But how and when peo­ple re­spond, how work hours are re­spected and that kind of thing, I think that’s a whole dif­fer­ent ball game,” he says.

Baker says that par­ent-teacher com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools are im­por­tant, and ev­ery­one in­volved in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is learn­ing more about best prac­tices as tech­nol­ogy ad­vances.

“I’m quite thank­ful for the changes and leaps in tech­nol­ogy in terms of be­ing able to very quickly share ev­i­dence and achieve­ment with the par­ents. There’s a great amount of flux right now,” he says. “There’s quite a spec­trum still, and it’s a process in which all stake­hold­ers have a role to play.”

Is keep­ing con­stant tabs on your kid in class a good thing?

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