This guide is intended to support schools and kura to more effectively embrace learning with digital technologies initiatives such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) by forming and maintaining positive relationships with their whānau, iwi and community.
This guide will suggest ideas to include when communicating with whānau about learning with digital technologies, specifically in a community meeting setting.
This guide is intended for kaiako, teachers and leaders: people with responsibility for communicating with the community about the school’s, kura’s, community of learning or kāhui ako’s vision and its connections to learning with digital technologies.
Once you have read this guide you are welcome to contact the Connected Learning Advisory to get more personal assistance. We aim to provide consistent, unbiased advice and are free of charge to all state and state-integrated New Zealand schools and kura. Our advisors can help with all aspects outlined in this guide as well as provide peer review of the decisions you reach before you take your next steps.
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Forming part of an ongoing dialogue, a community meeting is one way to communicate with whānau, iwi and the community. Learning involves a three-way partnership with the learner, their whānau, and the school or kura. Starting with the learner’s and whānau’s aspirations, each partner has a part to play to ensure that learning with digital technologies is effective.
Engagement with your community about learning with digital technologies should be underpinned by the following principles:
- Clearly, consistently and concisely link how learning with digital technologies supports the school or kura’s vision.
- Ensure that all teachers and kaiako can explain how digital technologies enhance teaching and learning.
- Engage in genuine dialogue and conversation with whānau. Know what the methods of gathering and responding to feedback will be, and publicise this widely.
- Use a variety of communication channels. Build on your knowledge of your community in order to be inclusive with the expression of ideas. Alongside meetings, other ways to communicate include:
- School website
- Notices / emails home
- Social media (which provides a ‘many to many’ communication channel)
- Ensure you are well informed and have considered the data, research, and best practice evidence to explore the idea of how to effectively use digital technologies to enhance learning.
- Ensure digital citizenship documentation, such as policies and responsible use agreements, are up-to-date, and reflect the values and vision of your school or kura and your community.
Engaging your community about learning with digital technologies
Community engagement about learning with digital technologies through meetings may require several events. Two such occasions are suggested here, but more and/or repeated events may be needed. Consider holding events at different times of day and in different locations such as your local marae or church hall, depending on the context of your community.
One of the key purposes of this meeting will be to help whānau to understand the ‘why’ of learning with digital technologies so that there is continued positive partnerships for the benefit of all learners.
To this end, a meeting may comprise:
- Engaging the community in the vision for teaching and learning and exploring how digital technologies will support and enhance this.
- Sharing success stories of the learning that is afforded by digital technologies from your own or other schools or kura. Include student voice. For example, these stories could be shared by learners themselves.
- Reiterating that learning is a three way partnership with whānau, learners and school or kura, and providing help for whānau to understand how they might best help with their child’s learning using digital tools.
- Providing activities to engage with the community to unpack and share their experiences and ideas
- Discussing the best ways to involve the community in ongoing dialogue.
- Gathering feedback and gauging community feelings. Explain or negotiate what the channels for communication are, and how queries will be responded to, for example via an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your school or kura’s website; through follow up events; directly through an email or conversation. There could be an invitation to join a whānau focus group, or build from an existing group, to provide ongoing engagement.
- Covering practicalities, for example: how issues of equity will be addressed; how devices will be funded; how devices will be kept secure, and learners will be supported in their learning online; what the expectations will be for day-to-day learning.
- Focusing on the learning rather than the tools. It may be useful to refer to research, case-studies or examples that support the use of digital technologies to enhance learning, or to show how research can be accessed, for example from an e-Learning page on the school or kura’s website.
- Developing and reinforcing a shared understanding of digital citizenship practices for kaiako, teachers, whānau and students.
It may be worth providing various means to gather questions and feedback, for example through a digital tool such as Padlet, on sticky notes or via email. An open forum for questions could potentially lead to a few voices or themes dominating so may not be helpful. Gathering questions and recording them for a later response might be an alternative, but draw on your knowledge of your community and its context.
One of the purposes of this meeting may be to showcase how learning at your school or kura has been transformed through access to digital technologies.
To this end, a meeting may comprise:
- Modelling modern learning practices by avoiding leading the meeting from the front of the room.
- Developing learner agency by maximising student-led opportunities, for example have students teach their whānau a digital tool they use for learning, or have student ambassadors who lead whānau around stations set up to showcase learning.
- Showcasing learning by sharing examples of recent student work afforded by digital technologies. These examples should highlight students using technologies to support learning in creative and imaginative ways.
- Showing clearly how learning has changed and developed through the use of digital technologies. It may be appropriate to refer to student achievement data, results of surveys, and/or evaluations of a BYOD trial.
- Checking in with your community about how they have noticed these changes.
Commit to Ongoing Engagement with Community
Community meetings, such as those suggested here, should not be one-off events, but build on from a strategy of ongoing engagement through a variety of formats and channels, such as those suggested above. When thinking particularly about learning with digital technologies and the need to build and maintain support from your community, consider these opportunities for ongoing communication:
- The induction process for whānau and their learners new to your school or kura
- As you explore greater collaborative teaching and learning practices
- As you move towards Innovative Learning Environments
- As learning evolves in response to new technologies
- As digital citizenship and digital fluency practices evolve
Useful Links and Resources
Examples of schools’ presentations
Hampden Street School
Engaging with parents: Hampden Street School have built a very successful partnership with parents and their local community. Parents share how the school’s open door approach as they planned and developed their innovative learning environment gave them confidence their children’s learning needs were being met.
Ruawai Primary School
| Introducing digital technologies to the community through student voice: Staff and students of Ruawai Primary School used student voice to share with their parent community the ways in which digital technologies are used to support learning, and to share what students are learning with their families.
| BYOD – Information and support for parents: Teacher and e-learning leader, Kate Friedwald explains the information provided for parents at Wairakei School to introduce a BYOD trial for Year 5/6 students in 2014.
Hillcrest Normal School
Engaging parents in learning through technology: Hillcrest Normal School teacher, Michelle Macintyre shares how technology has enabled parents to be involved in different ways with students' learning. She explains, at their classroom learning celebrations they have been engaging parents with technology in practical ways. Creating video of learning experiences facilitates discussion between students and parents, particularly for English as a second language families.
Holy Cross School
Parent technology sessions: Holy Cross School is very multicultural community. Kathy Moy-Low explains how they have consulted with and engaged the parent community in e-learning. One of their initiatives is after school parent technology sessions, which are run once a month. In this video clip, parents explain why they go to the classes – the benefits for their own learning with technology, and how they can engage more with their children's learning.
- Digital citizenship resources linked to the e-Learning Planning Framework and curated by the Connected Learning Advisory
- The NetSafe Kit for Schools helps schools to address student cybersafety and support digital citizenship
- Digi Parenting is a collaboration between NetSafe, The Parenting Place and Vodafone to provide resources specifically aimed at parents and whānau around digital technologies in the home
- Useful research:
- Manaiakalani Research and Evaluation
- Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching - a New Zealand perspective, Bolstad and Gilbert et al (NZCER, MOE, 2012)
- The Nature of Learning: Using research to inspire practice, ed. Dumont, Istance and Benavides (OECD, 2012)
- Examples of schools’ e-Learning pages:
- Ellerslie School
- Green Bay High School
- Hutt Valley High School
- Karori Normal School
- Pakuranga College
- Paraparaumu Beach School
- Te Waka Unua School
- Wairakei School
- Ministry of Education information for parents: Learning with digital technologies
- Connected Learning Advisory: Planning for and managing 1:1 digital devices in your school - Community engagement
- Connected Learning Advisory: BYOD and 1:1 Preparedness Checklist
- Enabling e-Learning: Learning with 1:1 digital devices - Leadership and community engagement
- Enabling e-Learning: Beyond the classroom - Home-school partnerships
This guide has been produced in response to a number of specific queries about community meetings from schools. It should not be read as a recommendation or endorsement of any specific product. The Connected Learning Advisory is a Ministry of Education supported service that provides schools with technology information relevant to their queries and does not recommend one product over another.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Produced for the Ministry of Education’s Connected Learning Advisory by CORE Education
Date Last Updated:
May 30th 2017