Parent-Teacher Communication in the Cloud
As the cloud continues to expand and touch more and more of the practices that make up education in American high school classrooms, a natural place for innovations in cloud computing was always apparent in streamlining communication between teachers and the parents of their students. With communication needed on everything from in-class assignments and homework, to behavioral or grade conferences, to excursions or special class information like assigned readings, getting important info to parents is a constant worry and essential part of any teacher’s normal routine. As such, finding ways to bring that process to the digital realm (and specifically, to the cloud) was an area ripe for new ideas, and those ideas have begun to emerge in districts across the United States.
One of the most prominent examples of cloud computing in teacher-parent relationships is the Parent Portal technology currently in use by many school districts across the country, notably in large urban areas. These districts, which deal with parent populations usually restricted by transportation issues and busy work schedules, were consistently in desperate need of a new way to enable parents to stay in touch with happenings at the school and in specific classrooms. Parent Portal, an innovation similar to the Blackboard education management system widely used in college courses, allows parents to check in on items like grades and classroom assignments in real time. On top of that, Parent Portal also serves as a means for parents to get into direct contact with their child’s teacher.
The benefits and opportunities this can bring to a child’s academic engagement and success are various and important. By giving parents an easier and more accessible way to both monitor their child’s progress in a class and stay in touch with the specific teacher, Parent Portal allows for a more effective support system to remain in place during a child’s time in any classroom. Not only this, but by allowing parents and teachers to communicate professionally and effectively in a digital manner, the inconvenient school meetings and hard-to-reach educators of the past can also become an old reality. There also remain numerous possibilities for the expansion of Parent Portal services, notably the ability to transfer or post PDFs of student work and important documents directly to the platform for parents to view. As both remain critical parts of the classroom experience, despite the continued introduction of digital instructional methods and cloud computing innovations, the ability to work these things into the Parent Portal would serve as a further benefit of the service.
While the jury remains out on some of the potential negative consequences of cloud technologies like Parent Portal, the many benefits of this type of cloud-driven service in the education world can not be underestimated. As more and more of the typical practices of the 20th century classroom are adapted to technologies of the 21st century, it was only a matter of time before communications between teachers and parents became adapted as well. Technologies like Parent Portal, navigating the cloud to enhance the classroom environment, continue to remain a hotly debated topic among the academics.
By Adam Hausman