Technology can galvanise the hard work of parents to support their children's education

Often, parents had to substitute educators, at least partially. Around 74 per cent of teachers said they couldn't teach to their usual standard, so 58 per cent of parents ended up homeschooling at the beginning of the pandemic. Even today, this trend persists as 95 per cent of secondary and 82 per cent of primary educators are still teaching online.
In this context, education technology (edtech) is no longer a choice but a necessity. Parental involvement in education is just as significant, whether learning occurs online, in person, or in a hybrid setting. With the help of technology, it's now easier than ever to empower parents and reward their impactful work during the pandemic.
Let's explore how schools can utilise the same technology they deploy to teach, to empower parents and carers, by giving them access to homework tasks, track their children's progress and even follow along with lessons.

1. A clear and updated overview of their children's assignments

Do you have any homework for today?
One of the biggest concerns for parents is not being able to keep up with school assignments. Lack of time or communication with teachers or even with their own children often keeps parents in the dark about how they are doing at school.
Digital learning tools tackle this problem. If a school uses a platform to assign homework and evaluate students, parents can also have their own accounts. Thus, they can quickly check their children's schoolwork and make sure it's submitted on time.
Parents can also facilitate pupils' understanding of new lessons by watching them again, if they were recorded, or through the digital resources teachers assign, such as lessons, videos, presentations. Moreover, teachers can also send parents comments and instructions on supporting pupils with their homework. 

2. The ability to check their children's progress at any time

How did you do on your Maths test?
Pupils usually dread such questions, and parents often get tired of asking them. Edtech makes it possible for parents to go directly to the source to check their children's school progress. Most educational institutions already use a digital platform to track student progress.
Some systems allow teachers to evaluate and grade students automatically, set goals they must meet, and get detailed reports on their progress. Each student's parents can access all this data. So, instead of waiting for pupils to open up about how they're doing at school, parents can log in to a platform and see their grades, evolution, class participation and attendance, among others.

3. Constant contact with teachers and other school staff

Should we call the teacher?
The good news is that parents no longer have to contact teachers by email or phone. Edtech facilitates communication between them and teachers in the digital space. Parents can log in to the school platform and drop them a line. Teachers can get instant notifications once a parent contacts them and respond in writing. Alternatively, they can even send parents an invitation to a short video call. Parents can also get automated notifications when their children have a new assignment, complete a class, miss a deadline, or get a new grade or certificate. Additionally, they know whenever there is an upcoming school event or any other important news.
The advantage? Written conversations are easier to track, and parents can revisit them at any time. Edtech speeds up parent-teacher communication and saves a lot of time for both parents and teachers, which is usually lost when discussing tedious administrative issues. Consequently, in-person school visits can focus on discussing student progress, abilities, or other more pressing matters.

4. The ability to connect to other parents

I should talk to other parents and see what they have to say about it…
'I should' turns into 'I can' with edtech. Meeting other parents isn't just for in-person meetings that happen once in a while. Plus, parents often miss appointments due to work commitments and other factors.
Depending on the specific learning tool the school uses, parents can enjoy several communication features such as parent groups (similar to Facebook groups) and instant messages. They can easily stay up to date and exchange ideas, concerns, and tips with fellow parents.
They can also access these communication channels from any device or send personal documents to the school in a secure environment to safeguard their privacy.

5. More opportunities to understand their children's struggles and strengths

I wish I could put myself in my child's shoes and see what school is like today. 
Many parents strive to be more empathetic when it comes to their children's learning. But putting themselves in their children's shoes shouldn't be wishful thinking. Parents can easily access the tools children use in their studies to understand what students are learning and how they are doing.
Most platforms schools use are intuitive and require minimum technical knowledge. So, parents can go the extra mile and learn more than the essential features that allow them to communicate with teachers and check their child's progress and assignments.
Each user has a well-established role that only allows them to enter certain information and prevents them from deleting or changing what is already there. Schools can even help parents through a short online demo course they can take to understand how their children are learning, when it's appropriate to intervene, and when to take a step back and allow pupils to manage their own studies.

Helping parents helps students the most

Edtech allows parents to be more proactive when it comes to their children's education. Technology also facilitates communication between parents and teachers, helps parents create online communities, and keeps everyone in the loop about what's happening at school. In the end, enabling parents to be more involved also rewards them for all the hard work during the pandemic, and is something schools might want to consider. It ensures that they'll continue to be just as engaged, even if they're not actively homeschooling.

Graham is the CEO of CYPHER LEARNING, a company specializing in providing e-learning platforms for organizations around the world. For more insightful articles on EdTech, visit the NEO Blog.