Picture 4Guest post by Reese Jones & Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Having a clear and positive communication with the students and their parents are a vital necessity among educators. According to School Family, good communication results in increased student achievement and better services from the school. An effective way in pursuit of this is through the use of technology, specifically the internet. This practice is becoming evident among 21st century educators whose are utilizing digital facilities and implementing the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) system. Organizations like Microsoft and O2 support digital facilities and launch their own way of supporting education thru technology. If you want to discover new ways of reaching out to your students and their parents, try the following helpful online tools and services that are recommended by other teachers.

Google Forms

As part of Google Drive, Google Forms provide an interactive way of exchanging information with your students and their parents. It provides a whole new way of mounting a class evaluation system since it acts like an online questionnaire. With this tool, you can author your virtual question-and-answer quizzes for your students. It can also be utilized for sending homework or assigning class readings after your lecture. Since it is available on various mobile platform, your students can respond to it using their smartphones and tablets. Upon their submission, results are automatically generated, so you no longer have to check it manually. The web tool may also come in handy when asking for parents’ comments and recommendations. In such a way, you’ll also know whether or not you are attending to your students’ individual need.  As of the moment, the iPhone 5, iPad and Android devices are supported by this tool.

Blogs

By creating a blog, you are also creating an online presence that can be used for multiple purposes: posting announcements, class candid moments, student’s achievements, assigning group tasks and disseminating learning resources and helpful links. Since a blog has an excellent feedback system, they can immediately respond to voice out their queries, topic clarifications and ideas for class activities. You can also dedicate a post to your model student and special awards to motivate them. By updating it on a regular basis, parents will definitely appreciate your effort in fostering the learning process.  No need to host a paid website since there are free web-hosting services like WordPress, Blogger, Kidblog and Edublogs (which is a free blog service focused on Education).

Colorful Posters/Graphics

Even if you have a dedicated classroom blog, it’s always good to keep your homeroom bulletin board updated. It may come in handy for posting important announcements such as birthdays, examination schedules, inspiring quotations, relevant academic news and upcoming school activities. Printing out a plain text will bore your students. Colorful flyers or graphics can be your effective solution to replace these dull posters. An online resource called Smore provides an easy way in creating beautiful and attractive flyers. There are several themes to choose from, and it’s also customizable with your own provided pictures. With the flyers also been optimized for mobile viewing, you can also blast an email of it to your students’ smartphones.

Remind 101

This is a handy web tool in reminding students and parents via SMS. Remind101 configures multiple cellular numbers into a single texting community. Afterwards, you can instantly send a blast to all the members and they will simultaneously receive the message through text. Unlike a cellular device, no number is displayed in the sender’s profile except for your name. You can also present the numbers that could respond to it or not. This tool is perfect not just for the teachers but for the school administrators as well. They can maximize its use for important announcements such as class suspensions, call for the parent – teacher’s meeting, invites for school’s foundation activities and fundraiser event.

Screencasts

By using a tool like Screenr or Screencast-o-matic, you can add an audio annotation as you browse web pages or even your PC’s files. This is significant for explaining difficult topics and complicated tasks. This is a great and engaging way to create tutorials of online resources or software you plan to introduce to your class.

Cel.ly

Cel.ly creates safe mobile social networks for schools. Features include group texting with moderation, multiple-choice polls, reminders and web alerts. Access on both Android and IOS devices.

Wiki

A wiki is like a class website, but made for collaboration. Wikis are free for educators and are ad free if you sign-up at Wikispaces for Educators or PBWorks for Educators. Both of these sites provide you with a variety of tools to embed, add widgets, and help students collaborate and build a community full of resources. You can add a translation button to help students and parents see the Wiki in their native tongue. In the English Story Time wiki, I list various activities parents can do at home with their children.

Twitter

Aviva Dunsinger has been using Twitter to teacher her first graders for several years and has had great success. They will have chats with experts to find out information on various topics. Additionally, parents can follow the Twitter account to get information quickly. Some schools use Twitter to update parents about events, news, and weather alerts.

Facebook

Many schools have a Facebook page to inform parents about events, news, and weather alerts. However, some teachers use Facebook to also engage parents. Matt Gomez, a kindergarten teacher, describes how he used Facebook effectively with parent in his post, Why I Am Using Facebook. He provides screenshots and examples. Facebook groups are a good option with many privacy and collaborative options.

Google Communities

Google communities work as a social network in which parents and students can post updates, pictures, links, videos, and more. You can schedule events, video meetings with a chat, and also host live tutoring sessions. This is one of my new favorite tools.

Edmodo

Edmodo-(free, Android & i-devices) teachers create an online private/public community for their students to interact and learn online. There are various apps embedded and features that help students to answer poll questions, post replies to discussions, create online profiles, post assignments, receive grades, access a calendar, and so much more!

The internet can really be utilized to promote a positive communication among teachers, students and parents. With the help of the web tools we’ve mentioned, hopefully, you’ll foster a positive learning environment in your academic institution. What other ways are you using as a 21st century educator?

Additional Resources

Written by Reese Jones, an awesome IOS and android fan who loves phones and print media. She also writes the most recent tech ed news at Techiedoodlers.com. She is also a keen footballer and she also maintains a passion for architecture.

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