We’ve been highlighting the obstacles faced by students now part of a digital world that demands more of their families’ resources. Previously we touched upon the twin issues of digital access and affordability that routinely hamper families in low-income communities. But to truly bridge the divide, families also need explicit support in taking full advantage of the apps and digital devices being heavily relied upon in their children’s schools.
Julia Sosa, an active participant in our parent power action network at the Center for Powerful Public Schools, feels overwhelmed by the number of technological devices needed to support her children’s academics. Although she is feeling more comfortable using Zoom, she does recommend that the school district or the school itself provide more tutorials on how to use the required digital tools and applications. Schools now expect parents like Manuela Lopez to be familiar with how to navigate applications used regularly by her child like Schoology and the Parent Portal. For the many parents like Julia and Manuela, who are supportive advocates of their students’ educations and willing to learn to navigate the technology, links to easy-to-use resources could go a long way to remedying their concerns.
We would advocate for the types of digital resources known as asynchronous tools, ones that parents can access easily at any time and that provide only the most essential information parents need to support their students in that particular platform. Such resources need to be developed and maintained by an instructional design team, ideally at the district level. These tools should offer multiple learning paths for families to practice and gain confidence and should be provided in the languages spoken at home. In addition, at the school level, communication to homes needs to be centralized, streamlined, and predictable in terms of what content goes out to families and when it’s delivered.