Edtech for Parents & Families
Parents are bombarded by messages about technology. Messages about the dangers of technology compete with the marketing efforts of technology suppliers. This can sometimes drown out the more measured conversations about how and when you should really be using technology to boost your child’s learning progress.
Children’s knowledge of education technology (or ‘Edtech’) often outstrips even the most tech-savvy of parents. Here is an introduction to how to keep up & steer your child in the right direction.
First of all, let us assuage the fear that all technology is bad & only presents a risk to children. Just like anything, there are positives and negatives but just like teaching your child the green cross code can help them cross the road,
The Children’s Commissioner’s Digital 5 A Day framework is a simple tool to understand the role & effect of the internet & digital devices on a child’s development.
Digital is often associated with risks but we believe that the benefits of digital are not being maximised by families. For further information on online safety please see www.wonderhub.co.uk/online-safety
The Benefits of Edtech at Home
Technology can accelerate learning, boost creativity, improve communication & collaboration skills, build critical thinking, target specific learning objectives, provide digital skills for their later career and lets them create content instead of just consuming it. On top of all of this, it can be also be loads of fun and a bonding experience!
There has been some consolidation in the hardware used in schools over the last few years. In general they fit into four categories – tablets & iPads / Chromebooks / laptops / mobile phones. Each has its own advantages & children act differently on different tools.
There are countless apps being designed and promoted for iPads & tablets but there is more evidence coming out that laptops are preferable for parents to use with their children. They provide a less individual space for children so it’s easier for you to sit with them & there are far more free resources available online than through apps.
It is important that parents know that iPads aren’t the only option. They are an incredibly expensive way to access free & cheap resources online, especially when a Chromebook can cost as little as £100 and many can still give you touch-screen capabilities.
The most tech-savvy children still need guidance from you
Just because ‘digital natives’ know so much about how technology works, it is wrong to assume that they also know how to use it. Parents & teachers are becoming more informed as to the impact of the wrong kind of technology & when too much of a good thing is detrimental. Similarly, there are social & societal skills that children just haven’t developed yet.
Working together on technology at home gives you the chance to develop these skills with them in a safe environment and gives them a framework of how to behave.
Working in partnership with the school
Many parents have access to digital tools at home, either through online free subscriptions or because their child has access through their school’s subscriptions. For example, most London schools subscribe to London Grid for Learning which gives the children access to the likes of Busy Things. Outside of London, many schools subscribe to 2Simple & Doodle Maths which similarly, can be accessed at home for free.
The new computing curriculum can easily be supplemented using free online resources to help eager kids advance or remediate those who need to catch up.
Parent communication applications are booming. For example, there has always been evidence showing that fathers reading with kids can have a huge impact on a child’s literacy. These communication apps can nudge reluctant & busy parents to engage in this kind of practice.
The ability to quickly feedback to parents specific examples of good work or bad behaviour also lets parents encourage and reward the former, whilst letting them deal quickly with the latter.
Getting started with Edtech
One of the problems parents face is a lack of balanced debate on how to use technology. Often the objective of a site is singular. Messages from Edtech companies are overwhelmingly about how daily use of their tools can boost learning but should children be using technology every day? And if so, if they used each app every day then where would they fit in homework & socialising?