- Nov 16 2016
When Parenting magazine and the National Education Association in the US conducted a study looking into the roadblocks associated with parent-teacher communication, the results were very telling. While 88 percent of parents consider teachers as “partners” in their child’s education, less than half (48 percent) felt that there was a sufficient amount of parent-teacher meetings. Similarly, teachers felt that the biggest communication challenge was linked to parents’ lack of understanding of their children’s issues at school.
With the wave of technology, new digital solutions are bringing parents and teachers closer than ever. Over the past several years, we have seen a staggering influx of smartphones – in the US 65 percent of the adult population owns a smartphone; compared to just 35 percent in 2011. Even in its most basic form, smartphones can facilitate communication through phone calls, emails and text messages – now a relative norm in the parent-teacher relationship. Opening lines of communication informs parents of homework assignments, meetings, school projects – and can be particularly useful to address disciplinary or educational issues early on.
A study conducted by Harvard University showed that when parents and teachers communicated regularly, students were 42 percent more likely to complete their homework and 25 percent less likely to lose focus.
Sodexo’s digital strategy extends beyond parents themselves and connects high schools directly with students through its MySodexo app. As part of the pilot program, students in France can pre-order meals and recharge their meal plans via the smartphone application.
Today, mobile applications take this communication to new heights. Secure and user-friendly platforms are entering the market – not only opening the lines of communication, but also ensuring that personal data is protected in the process. With collaborative applications such as Buzzmob parents and teachers share the responsibility of maintaining active communication. For example, teachers can send messages to remind parents of important assignment deadlines and parents can reply with comments or questions. The private network is fast and easy to use for all parties and best of all, educators can update information on the platform at a moment’s notice – rather than taking on the more time consuming task of updating a school website.
Mobile applications are also aimed at improving the health and well-being of school children. Parents in France, for example, now have a window into the nutrition of their children with Sodexo’s newest mobile app SoHappy. The pilot program, launched at the beginning of the 2016 school year, allows parents to view the daily lunch menu, be notified when their child’s favorite meal will be served and pay for children’s lunch programs. Over time, the application will also add more content featuring nutritional advice, information on allergens and recipes – brining the school nutritional experience into the home as well.
Applications such as Collaborize Classroom allow teachers to share their expertise with parents by opening discussions within the classroom community on education topics and trends, interesting articles and videos. Parents can also interact among themselves and directly with teachers.
Certain apps also foster a sense of community among fellow parents. Let’s say a parent is running late for afterschool pick up, Ringya provides quick access to the school’s parent directory, effectively facilitating a Plan B carpool solution. Parents can also get in touch with each other to plan a play date or discuss a school-related issue.
As the concept of “business hours” becomes increasingly antiquated out in the real world, an array of digital solutions let parents engage with teachers and other individuals within the school community anytime and anywhere.
New mobile apps are popping up everyday to help us simplify and streamline just about every part of life – even relationship building. In the education sector, mobile technology is breaking down barriers and helping parents and teachers facilitate an open digital dialogue.
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