The Edutopia video focuses on one particular tool, a blackboard system, to achieve a larger goal: fostering effective communication between a teacher, students, and their parents. The video assumes–and I believe correctly–that in many of America’s school systems, the interdependent communication flow between these groups has become largely fractured. Even in my own elementary school days, I can recall angry parents complaining that they did not know about a class party because they never received a note. Usually, the note would have disappeared into that deep cloth vortex that is the student’s bookbag, but the child should not be singled out. Parents and teachers, too, are often responsible for disrupting communication channels. The blackboard system at Forest Lake Elementary appears to be successfully addressing this problem by allowing parents access to students’ grades, written work, and other valuable information. I like the idea of having an integrated student content system, but I fear that not every school district has the resources to design the necessary interfaces and maintain the data structure. Still, its popularity at one school suggests that its genre holds the potential to continue to improve communication.
In a high school English classroom, I would take first take advantage of Facebook. I think using Facebook, as opposed to a site like Scholastic Homepage Builder, is important because many students and parents already use Facebook and monitor their accounts often. Thus, if I created a classroom Facebook page, then parents and students would likely check it more often than they would a Scholastic site because they most of them already log on to Facebook regularly anyway. I would post homework assignments, reminders, polls, discussions, etc. The group would function as a place of discussion that continues after class has ended. If a student has a question about a project due the next day, he could post it on the class page and await responses from his peers or me. Parents would also be encouraged to join the page to check up on their students, as well as to engage in any classroom projects that require their attention or assistance.
I can also foresee using Google Calendar. Again, using this tool would streamline the amount of websites parents have to visit to get information about their students at school because they could link their own Google Account to the class calendar. Thus, they will be reminded to view the class calendar more often. As with Facebook, this tool would benefit students and parents, as I would update it with deadlines, class event dates, and reminders about upcoming school events, as well.