ePortfolios: Parent Engagement 2

As I see it, trying to get more parents on board and participating in commenting and providing feedback in their child’s eportfolio has two distinct parts.

Firstly, and certainly a prerequisite to anything else, is getting parents online. Once they are online and viewing learning, then leaving any kind of comment is the first step. Then and only then can we begin to work on developing quality comments that provide feedback for improving learning.

Developing quality feedback in parents is the second part of the equation. Is it realistic? Achievable? Involving parents in elearning to support achievement has certainly been discussed in many reports and publications including Enabling the 21st Century Learner: An e-Learning Action Plans for Schools (PDF);

Research shows that parents who are involved in their children’s learning, and encourage their children to be the best they can be, make a real and positive difference to how their children learn.  The influence and involvement of parents and whanau, in addition to effective teachers, has a significant positive impact on how well students achieve.

It goes on to stay;

Schools need to work with families, whanau, and their communities to foster understanding of how to use ICT effectively in learning. ICT provides new possibilities for following students’ progress and engagement…

So the justification is there, and it perfectly compliments the principles of formative teaching and learning which is alive and strong in our school.

So where now? My first approach will be to use the students as teachers. By utilising their technical know-how, their understanding of the purpose behind the learning and the crucial component of them being their to sharing their learning with their parents, they are in the prime position for facilitating the change and making a difference. Here’s some of what I plan to do to make it happen.

  • Specifically plan for increased peer/buddy/critical friend written feedback in eportfolios. These strategies are well used in class already but making a conscious effort to plan for and make time for it to take place is necessary. Students (and teachers!) need plenty of practice in writing and giving quality feedback. If the students are going to guide their parents with this they need to be giving prompts, asking questions and other feedback strategies.
  • Continue to model effective teacher feedback on learning in class and through eportfolios. My role is ever important and as I model commenting and giving quality feedback this will set an example for both parents and students to follow and use when constructing their own feedback. Just as we use quality exemplars of learning to guide students to success in their learning, effective modeling will set the expectations for others to follow.
  • Facilitate/build capacity for students as teachers/guides in process. This is where I am aiming and the two previous points contribute to this. However I think more deliberate discussions around feedback, parent involvement, knowing how to get better at what you are doing, and students becoming teachers themselves will really build capacity in this area.

That’s what rolls off the top of my mind at the moment. Hopefully no glaring gaps in my thinking…

One thing I have failed to mention so far is that last year while I was completing my research, an honours student was simultaneously carry out a research project around our eportfolios and how they were involving parents in the learning of their children. This research may well answer some of the why questions relating to parents engagement. I have not read the final copy of this research but will hopefully grab a copy of it in the next week and post some of the results. Should be interesting reading.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/torres21/

4 thoughts on “ePortfolios: Parent Engagement 2

  1. Hi Nick

    Just a quick thought that you may have or may not have thought about. I find that students are able to give better feedback to their peers when they know what the success criteria is AND how to get there. I find RUBRICS are a good way of doing this.

    I know you use success criteria well but have you tried using rubrics as well?

  2. @Jamin Lietze
    Jamin, totally agree, rubrics or matrices are an ideal way to guide student learning and expectations as well as being a reference point for reflection and feedback. They will also, when posted to eportfolios, provide more information for parents to construct their feedback.
    Thanks for all of your feedback!

  3. Hey Nick,
    Just a thought but as a parent might I suggest… that you experiment with sending out a reminder email to class parents (most have email addresses) together with the link to student blogs.

    I find this immensely helpful with getting the busy board members I work with to check in on their information blog regularly.
    I am hoping that it will become habit for them, but for the moment, I know that if they are checking emails then they are online and easily able to quickly check in and comment and it seems to be working.


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