Recently our school has added another tool to support our e-Learning practices and embraced the use of blogging as a way to increase student voice and agency; while at the same time using this to build relationships with our community.
A potential issue I see arising from this is parents and caregivers not understanding why we are moving towards digital tools to record learning. This is moving away from what they know learning to be. Their schooling experience was very different to now. Often the teacher was at the front of the class, and students were expected to write everything down in books. Therefore, I think it is necessary to address the question: ‘Does our community know why their kids are using blogging?’
Everything we do as educators must come back to purpose. Recently I asked ‘What comes first: tools or pedagogy?’ One of the responses to this question was: ‘They hold equal weighting.’ But what I have learned over the past year is that everything should always stem from pedagogy, then it is about applying the best tools to help us secure learning experiences that make the learning purposeful. Jefferies, Carsten-Stahhi & McRobb (2007, p123) believe that if a given technology is not compatible with the underlying pedagogy or if the pedagogy conflicts with ethical ideas, then it is likely that the purpose of the use of technology, namely to educate, is in danger of not being fulfilled. This is important to acknowledge because it highlights how important it is to understand why we as educators are choosing to teach the way we do, and use the tools we are. So then how do we convey all this information to parents when what we really want to be doing is getting on with the teaching? How can we assure parents that what we are doing is the best for their child?
One of the difficulties for schools when wanting to embed digital technologies into a school, is having the time to connect with the community. Often only a small amount of the community will be consulted with, often due to parent availability and tight timeframes. Before blogging was reintroduced to our school, Senior Management were provided with the pedagogy that supported this initiative with an inquiry question to drive it: Can blogging improve the strength of a student’s voice when given authentic opportunities to identify their interests, direct their own learning and receive feedback from peers and the wider community? An implementation plan was established with clear guidelines and timeframes. To address the need for community consultation, this plan included meeting with our community focus groups to find out what they know, and to share why and what we are doing to improve the 21st Century skills of their tamariki; and in doing so building stronger relationships with our community.
When I think of how best to reassure parents that our approach to use blogging as a tool is in the best interest of their child, I look to the Teachers Code of Ethics, particularly point 2: Commitment to Parents/Guardians and family/whānau. It states that professional decisions in regard to learning must always be weighted towards what is judged to be in the best interests of the learners. However, it is crucial to acknowledge and collaborate with parents and caregivers about these decisions. Parents and caregivers trust that we will make sound choices when it comes to their tamariki. But, we must involve them in the decision making process by providing more than one opportunity for them to be part of open, honest and respectful conversations about changes that affect their child’s learning.
Code of Ethics from Certified Teachers. Retrieved on 7 March 2016 from: http://www.educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers-0
Commitment to Parents/Guardians and Family/Whanau. Retrieved on 7 March 2016 from: https://app.themindlab.com/media/12729/view
Pat Jefferies , Bernd Carsten‐Stahl & Steve McRobb (2007) Exploring the relationships between pedagogy, ethics and technology: building a framework for strategy development, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 16:1, 111-126, DOI: 10.1080/14759390601168122. Retrieved on 8 March 2016 from: http://www.tandfonline.com.libproxy.unitec.ac.nz/doi/pdf/10.1080/14759390601168122
* Picture sourced on 9 March 2016 from: Room 10 – Student Hands 🙂