I think most of us can agree that it is important to involve parents in the education of their children. Although some students are more independent and will be able to succeed on their own, most students need the extra support that parents can provide. Without this support, many students may find their education suffering.
To make sure parents stay connected, schools are constantly looking for new ways to improve communications. Online schools typically use technology as their main form of communication. Online schools such as American National School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL use Skype, email, chat and instant messaging as part of their daily communication with parents and students. “Being an online school, most of our interaction with parents and students is from a distance. We have to find effective cost efficient ways to communicate with families throughout the world”, says Imran Abdul Aziz, Chief Technology Officer of American National School. “We hold open houses online, conduct advisory council meetings via webinar, hold parent conferences through phone and Skype, and have monthly parent follow up by phone and email. We do our best to reach parents and students through many different methods and we try to provide them a variety of ways to communicate with us.”
One of the main problems with parental involvement is that parents are just too busy. Many parents work full time and are unable to speak during the day. It is helpful for these parents to have another method such as email that they know a school will respond to. According to Mr. Imran, “Our parents can log into our system with their parental access and get up-to-the-minute feedback on their child’s progress. We can send messages through our management system, personal email, Skype, and social media. We even have an app for after hours assistance and support. We try to reach our school community through multiple channels to make sure they receive the message.”
Technology is clearly an important factor in communication and support in online schools. The more ways a school has to communicate with the school community, the more people it can effectively reach. As a school, it is important to have the involvement and support of parents, but with such busy schedules, that can be a difficult task. An effective school will find new ways to communicate and reach parents, an important factor in student success.