Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blogs & Aggregators

My apologies for the delays in posting, I've been caught up experiencing the technology, and neglecting recording my experiences.

I've been using my Google Reader for about a month now and I'm still amazed that I'd never heard about RSS before then. I've subscribed to science news, education news, even what's now showing at the cinemas - it saves so much time. To be able to scroll through all the new topics and simply just click on any that interest me. It has got me thinking though, about how blogs and aggregators could be used for communication between students, parents and teachers.

I'd love to have a teacher's blog, where I could outline what has been happening in the classes, or even put out a week's advanced organiser. One prominent issue in school is that parents are often unaware of what is happening in their son or daughter's classroom. Australian Scholars Group (2009) published a guide for parents on supporting teachers and improving their child's schooling experience. In "Rule 5: Communication goes both ways", the guide outlines how many parents fear parent-teacher interviews because of fear. I think having a regular, general line of communication with parents (such as a blog) would help to encourage parents to approach their child's teacher and to keep abreast of their child's progress.

By posting to a blog, teachers can provide information for parents and students alike about what is happening in the classroom at the moment - what topics are being covered, what homework there is, when assignments or tests are due. Not only are parents able to keep updated with their son or daughter's class, but if students for some reason miss a lesson, they know exactly what they need to catch up.

There are some issues with the idea. Firstly, a decision on how (and if) commenting would be made available on the blog. Certainly, I believe that there would need to be a review of the comments before they could be posted, to ensure student security and privacy. Perhaps just a contact email address where questions could be posed would be an acceptable alternative?

Another issue is that not all parents are competent internet users; some may not even have access to the internet. While this is problematic for these parents, it may be resolved acceptably if a hardcopy of the blog content was posted weekly.

I'm not suggesting this as the only means of communicating with parents. Meetings, phone calls and other forms of contact are still necessary, but it is a way to provide parents with information, without cluttering their emails, letterboxes or answering machines. It's a way to stay in contact with parents when everything is going well in their child's life, rather than only when things are negative.

Australian Scholars Group (2009) Parent-Teacher Partnerships. Accessed 17 August, 2009 from

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