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Volume 29, Number 4
July/August 2013

Using Technology to Engage Families

Digital tools help schools reach parents “where they are”


When the Home and School Association at Knapp Elementary School in Lansdale, Pa., holds its monthly meeting, it provides live streaming through so that busy parents can watch and send comments from home. Since starting the live streaming, the association has seen average meeting attendance go from 14 to 43, and parents who weren’t typically involved have become regular attendees.

When Shawn Storm’s sixth-grade class at Strayer Middle School in Quakertown, Pa., used Google Hangout to debate students in another state, parents could watch the debate live through YouTube or read the highlights students posted on the class website via Twitter. That night, parents were able to ask their children detailed questions about what they had done in school during the day, rather than making do with the common middle-schooler shrugs.

And in 2012 after a Chicago resident inquired via Twitter how to find out if there were openings on local school councils, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) communications staff had a smartphone app designed in just three days that mapped the openings and names of candidates. A local blogger for the Chicago parent group PURE called the app “awesome,” writing, “I think that’s probably the FIRST TIME I have used the words ‘CPS’ and ‘awesome’ in the same sentence.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

S. Anderson. “How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School.” Edutopia.  

Harvard Family Research Project. “Using Student Data to Engage Families.” Family Involvement Network of Educators 2, no. 3 (2010).

N.E. Hill and R. Chao, eds. Families, Schools, and the Adolescent. New York: Teachers College Press, 2009.

J. Mazza. “Putting a FACE on a School.” Principal 92, no. 4 (2013): 34–37.

Pew Internet & American Life Project

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