A Great Conversation On The Technology Concerns Of Parents Regarding 1:1

2 to 1 at Home
photo via Wesley Fryer on Flickr 

As I was playing catchup on my blog reading from the last couple of weeks, I came across a great post from Scott McLeod on the topic of parents choosing to opt out of their students having a device in a 1:1 setting.  The major questions that Scott asks here are certainly ones that have been wrestled with in every school that has implemented a 1:1 program:

“Should parents have the right to refuse or limit a 1:1 initiative – or other educational technology usage – for their children? If so, in practical terms how would that work (e.g., would schools be required to provide analog assignments and/or homework)? What do you think?”

When it comes to supporting parents here in Burlington, my typical response is “we own the device, but you own the child.” We need to try to work with parents to help them ensure that they can find the balance of screen-time that they feel is warranted for their children. The problem here, however, is that this is far from a black and white issue due to the fact that most debates on this topic we tend to leave out the purpose of the time that students spend online. Personally, I think there is a difference between a couple of hours spent researching and creating a multi-media project as opposed to a couple of hours spent playing candy crush.

With this in mind, it is imperative that schools communicate with parents in regards to the expectations for device use at home. What tasks will students have to have access to their device to perform? Also, what tasks will students be able to complete with devices that are already at home (and which parents have a better grasp on monitoring)?  The comments on Scott”s post offer some wonderful insights into responding to these issues. One in particular comes from Sandy Kendell, an Educational Technology Specialist in Texas who provided the link to a great blog post Parent Concerns in a 1:1 Initiative. Kendell nails what is at the heart of the issue for parents:

“Keep in mind, the child being able to say, “I’m working on my homework” is somewhat of a game-changer when it comes to supporting and setting limits. How easily could you tell your child to just put the technology away when it could be impacting their grades?”

Sandy’s post is one of the best I have read in regards to the conversations that need to take place in order to support the dramatic change that a 1:1 school can have for parents and students at home. Another must-read link in the comments is to Beth Holland’s post The Balancing Act of Screentime. Beth really gets to the heart of the matter in regards to what we need to ask ourselves concerning device usage and our children by asking three simple questions:

  • Is it Appropriate? 
  • Is it Meaningful? 
  • Is it Empowering?
  • It is definitely worthwhile to read all of the 32 comments from Scott’s post. There is so much more to talk about on this topic.  I particularly like the direction that Lyn Hilt takes the conversation in her comment about ensuring that work assigned as homework (whether on a device or not) is meaningful. However, I’ll leave that for a discussion on another day.

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    Raising Modern Learners, A Great New Site For Parents (and Educators)

    I wanted to draw your attention to a new site for parents that talks about the evolving world that our children will inherit and how we can best support their learning endeavors to prepare them for their futures.  The site, Raising Modern Learners, was launched just over a week ago by Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon, a couple of parents who happen to also be highly regarded educators. The reasoning behind the creation of the site by Richardson and Dixon is as follows:

    “The world of education and the future of work are being transformed by the networked, connected, global moment in which we live, and there’s no question the opportunities and challenges our children face will be much different the ones we faced growing up. As parents, we need to make sense of that in order to best guide our kids forward. With the overwhelming amount of information online, we know you don’t have the time (or, in many cases, the energy) to keep track of it all. Our mission at RML is to help you stay abreast of not just what’s shifting, but what those shifts mean for the your kids’ futures. We’ll provide the best links and the most thoughtful analysis of what it all means in a timely, easy-to-read package once a week.”

    The most recent post on the site (First Take: Here a Screen, There a Screen, Everywhere a Screen Screen…A Good Thing for our Kids?provides a great example of the thoughtful nature of the material that you can expect from Richardson and Dixon.

    I encourage you go to Raising Modern Learners and enter your e-mail so that you can receive the weekly newsletter!

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