When I was teaching I tried to keep up a web page with information for my classes. The idea was to post assignments and links to useful information. This way students could double check their assignments. Parents could also keep up with what their children were supposed to be doing. My intentions were good and I did try to keep it current. But it was hard to maintain because the only way I had to do it was to update an old style web page using HTML. Then I had to upload the file to the web site. It was tedious. Not hard to do but tedious. So the truth is that I seldom updated the class web pages as often as I should have and they seldom contained as much or as current information as they should have.
Today I’d have a class blog. Blogging software is easy to use and avoids the entire nasty HTML thing and the troubles I used to have with uploading files to the right place.
I think that blogging would allow me to communicate more information more often to both students and parents. A lack of communication between teachers and parents is, I think, a common source of frustration for both. While there are certainly a lot of parents who are not interested in keeping up with the classroom assignments and activities of their children there are many parents who are frustrated about lack of information. What do they want to know? Well, the obvious is they want to know what assignments their children should be doing, what tests or long term assignments are in the future and what topics are being covered in class. I think that many of them would also welcome pointers to additional resources that they can use to help their students learn to topics under discussion.
Now of course parents often want up to date grading and attendance information that would be inappropriate for a public blog. That sort of detail is best coming from a password protected Student Information System. A blog site could easily link to such a resource with information about getting access.
I tend to think that the educational process works best when there is a partnership between teachers, student and parent. Adding some transparency and additional communication to the process through blogging seems to me like a step in the right direction. Are you or do you know a teacher using blogs for communication with parents and students? How’s it going? I’d love to hear about it.
– Alfred Thompson
Note: Also posted at CyberSpace People Watcher my blog on social computing.