Learning from home means students must now seek tech support from parents

October 28, 2020

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Many parents are struggling to keep up with all the technical issues that come up when kids take classes online. There are unfamiliar platforms and apps, as well as internet connectivity and privacy issues. It's a lot for parents to learn.

Knowing how to use a cell phone is a lot different from knowing how to use tech ed, says Kathy Rho, the University of Pennsylvania’s associate director for the mid-career doctoral program in educational leadership.

“Even digitally literate parents still need to sort of learn their way into these new apps and these new platforms,” she said.

And there are several to learn, explains education expert Karen Aronian, Ph.D.

“Google Classroom, Blackboard, Blackbaud -- and then getting into some of the free platforms out there as well, Khan and Edmodo. Different apps like Quizlet, Kahoot!, Seesaw. All of these different apps and ed technologies need instruction," Aronian said.

In some areas, YMCAs, community centers and libraries have become learning hubs for parents and kids.

“They do have people who are manning these facilities, helping with connectivity and also helping with the platforms,” she said.

Elizabeth Laird, with the Center for Democracy and Technology, says digital literacy isn’t the only tech concern for parents.

“They also lack training and information on digital safety. Almost half of teachers reported that they’ve received no substantive training on data privacy, and only four in 10 parents say that their schools have discussed their data protection privaciesm," Laird said.

Video conference learning has invited school into the home and home into school in a very different way, says Aronian.

“We’re gaining access to private settings that are at the very least uncomfortable to see, witnessing private moments and having children take a device, walk through the home," Aronian saids.

"It’s been a window to see into people’s homes where potentially there’s important information that school districts should be aware of and at the same point there’s privacy concerns with student’s overall tech usage and what sites they visit and who they are as a technology user.”

Some schools have set up webinars and Q & A documents so parents have resources available to help navigate these new platforms and technologies.

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