Improving Home/School Communication

Efficient and effective home/school communication is a strong determinate of success for students. Edmodo combines a powerful educational networking tool with mobile accessibility that links teachers, students and parents together in a safe and secure environment.

 

Benefits of Home/School Communication


There is ample evidence that improvements in home/school communication is beneficial for students and can lead to greater success in the classroom.  Kathleen Hoover and Joan Walker in their paper Family-School Communication, state that those benefits include;

    • * Gains in student achievement;
  • * Improvements in student behaviors that lead to achievement;
  • * Increases in parent satisfaction with the quality of children’s schooling; and
  • * I ncreased parental support for teachers and schools’ educational goals.

                                                                    (Hoover-Dempsey, Walker, pg 2)

 

Parents, like teachers are important stakeholders in the success and achievements of students and it is only natural that any efforts to improve the communication between all three (teachers, parents, students) will result in the benefits describe by Hoover and Walker above.  The question then becomes, how best to do that?


Reaching Out to Parents in a Medium of Their Choice


In today's face-paced and connected world, it has in many ways become easier to connect with parents than ever before.  Email and the proliferation of mobile "smartphones" has opened a door to opportunities to connect parents with classroom activities and schoolwork like never before.  Smartphone use in particular has increased dramatically in the last few years (Wang, Xiang, Fesenmaier), and as a result the ability to reach out to parents via their mobile phones has become easier.

 

Application programs like Edmodo help bridge the gap between what takes place in the classroom and what work is required of students at home.  Email is effective but is still considered to be a "lean" medium (Thompson, Mazer, Grady).  Whereas applications like Edmodo can provide a richer more immediate experience.  This richness occurs when parents can not only be notified immediately of what was learned in class, but now have access to all materials or supported research links that the teacher chooses to provide.  In this sense parents will often know what was discussed and what work is expected before the student even gets home.  It is that ability, the ability to reach parents in the medium of their choice and provide them with digital copies of in-class assignments that makes Edmodo such a powerful tool.


More Than Just Email


If the aim of technology in the information age is to connect people with ideas, then from an educational perspective, it only makes sense to embrace the tools and devices in which people are flocking to. (Johnson, et.al, 2014)  The impact of smartphones is only just beginning to be understood, but is already being recognized as the next tool for educators.  The 2014 NMC Horizon Report on emerging technologies and their impact on education is rife with examples of how smartphones are changing the way in which students are engaging with their education in a more personalized manner, (Johnson, et. al, 2014).   Edmodo is one of these tools that allows teachers to seamless enter this realm of mobile learning that the next generation of “digital natives” (Palfrey, Gasser) are showing a preference for.  If educators recognize the importance of connecting with students and the importance of connecting with parents, then tools that link all three stakeholders become even more important for the educational experience of the 21st Century.


The richness of the Edmodo experience extends even farther than just becoming a repository of assigned work that is accessible 24/7.  The ability to post weekly agendas or connect directly with parents about school notices or events only adds layers to the levels of communication that it provides.  The familiar and rich design of Edmodo (similar in look and feel of Facebook) also encourages students to engage in digital discussion groups that are monitored and directed by the teacher.  Online quizzes or even the ability to hand in homework via the internet extends the classroom beyond the walls of the school, or scheduled times of classes.  In this sense, tools like Edmodo allow for what Debra Miretzky believes expands upon the idea that; "Students who know that parents and teachers are regularly and respectfully in touch tend to work harder." (Miretzky, pg. 817)

 

Conclusion

 

As classroom teachers face a new generation of students who have unprecedented access to information and computing power literally in their hand, new ways in which to connect and facilitate learning must be explored.  Edmodo combines the ability to provide content in a digitally collaborative fashion in a medium that I have noticed is fast becoming the preferential norm of students.  But teaching 21st Century learners is more than just reaching out to students. The foundational “basics” must still be taught, and the important social/emotional aspect of guiding students to becoming self-directed learners cannot be ignored.  This means that teachers and parents will continue to play an important role in creating the 21st Century learner and key to that success will be communication.  Tools like Edmodo, with its smartphone application programs, allow for even greater opportunities to link the home and school together around the learner in a medium that is fast becoming universal.

 

References