Today’s Parents Want More Digital Communication from Schools

Survey finds that schools should leverage mobile device use when engaging with parents.

More and more of today’s parents of K–12 students came of age with the internet and cell phones at their fingertips, so it’s not surprising they are interested in using this technology to go beyond the parent-teacher conference.

According to the latest survey from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Research Project, parents indicate that they favor email and text messages from schools for information on their children, eSchool News reports.

Parents tell Project Tomorrow that convenience, personalization and timeliness are the most important aspects of school communications for them, which texting and email can deliver. Those methods can likely be the most convenient, too, since 95 percent of parents surveyed said they owned a smartphone.

“Parents being interested in text messaging (for school info) is really about having that access to the devices and having the experience with text messaging in their own personal life as well,” says Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow in a webinar.

In addition to wanting convenient digital communications, the survey says that parents also want to leverage digital tools at home in other ways.

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Parents Want More Apps to Support Student Learning

Largely, the Project Tomorrow survey shows that parents want to know even more about their child’s education, and specifically about where technology fits in.

The survey reveals four areas parents want to know more about regarding their child’s education:

  • How to work with teachers to maximize learning

  • Types of technology and workplace skills their child is learning

  • App recommendations to enhance learning at home

  • Other technology recommendations to support learning at home

Experts indicate that a big key to achieving digital success is having buy-in from parents and the only way to do this is to keep them informed about what happens at school. Project Tomorrow finds that 68 percent of school district communication officers are already informing parents on how they can improve learning, eSchool News reports.

Some schools have embraced apps such as ClassDojo and Remind to help parents and older students manage their assignments, feedback and communications on school activities and policies.

In Sioux Falls schools, an app called KiNVO is helping parents stay in the loop when students skip a class or are regularly tardy, the Argus Leader reports, in hopes that parents can help the school mediate.

“I don’t think the technology in and of itself will help kids get to school, but maybe the fact that we can wrap around more school people with more people in the lives of the student [will],” Sioux Falls superintendent Brian Maher tells eSchool News.

Parents and Schools Don’t See Eye to Eye on Social Media

While social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can be quite effective in helping educators create professional learning communities, parents find it less useful as a means of communication.

Though Project Tomorrow finds that 69 percent of parents use Facebook, only 16 percent indicate that it is an effective tool for school communication. That is in direct conflict with the 78 percent of district communication officers that find Facebook to be effective.

Since the survey finds that more mothers are likely to use Facebook than fathers, Evans suggests in the webinar that schools should tailor their methodologies of communication based on each audience they are trying to reach.

Tom Merton/Getty Images
Nov 01 2017