Parenting in the Digital Age: Technology Use By Educators

by Samantha on September 4, 2013

Well, the first day of school has come and gone and I’ve already retrieved the requisite crumpled piece of paper (important, apparently) from the bowels of my daughter’s knapsack. The lone form is followed by a pile - 9 pages to be exact - of similar papers, all requiring my completion. As a result, here I sit, filling out mountains of forms - physical forms - that are to be handed in to my daughter’s teacher.


I sure am.

Are we not living in a digital age? Last time I checked, most of us have access in some form, to technology. Email, by most standards, is considered old news. Who doesn’t have an email account? Yet the situation I find myself right now is certainly not unique. For some strange reason, educational facilities, specifically elementary schools, seem to be stubbornly entrenched in a previous era. In certain schools, there exists a mindset  in which reams of paper are the norm, where mimeograph machines are not too distant of a memory and where photocopies are part and parcel of the student’s daily experience.   A disconnect with societal standards and expectations is what is being practiced in schools and all of us as parents have cause for concern.

mimeograph machine

While we digitally communicate, text, broadcast and reach out through the ether, many of our kids are relegated to archaic tools of a bygone era, much to their detriment. No, paper isn’t completely obsolete; we do find use for it every so often. It’s when items such as paper are used with aplomb and abundance, much to the chagrin of many of us who are on the receiving end of the spectrum, that it becomes a problem.

Take a quick survey of most parents and they will tell you that they’d much rather receive communication from their child’s school in a digital format. Email, text, website, whatever - any of these options would be much better received than the rolled up mess that is often found at the bottom of too many kids’ backpacks. Yet the insanity persists.

The question then becomes: why? What is behind this desire to hold on to a communications method that is clearly flawed, to say the least? Paper does have its merits, one can concede, but personal background information, emergency contact numbers and a brief  synopsis of a child’s personality traits could be so  much more easily conveyed via digital means.

Is it that more recent technology has not yet reached the classroom? No - for many classes have computers, Internet access and Google that beckons from behind a flatscreen monitor. Kids - ironically - are able to access digital technology from within their classrooms; they’re just not able to receive any information through the same media from the school that houses the classroom. How odd. While teaching a lifestyle in which digital communication is assumed, the lessons sent home on this very topic are often on a few sheets of paper. The irony is not lost on many of us parents who sit down at the home computer or laptop with our kids, paper assignments in hand, searching Google and other online sites for answers to questions posed in said homework.

Teaching our kids to be technologically adept yet sending them home with a less-than-modern methods of communicating is a great way of giving our children a mixed message. Here we are, simultaneously touting the various advances we’ve made as a society and culture while at the same time showing our dependence on a methodology that requires more work for the user than it has to.

If we want to end the days of “the dog ate my homework” we need to take away the canine’s ability to actually do so. Let’s get our schools into the 21st century and digitize communications so that the days of soggy and crumpled assignments are a thing of the past.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam Rennie September 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Well technology is great there does need to be a balance of both paper and tech. At our elementary school we are highly tech based both in the class and in the office but there are still a few printed forms. But your right, parents prefer the ease of access through websites, emails etc. and we connect through a variety of social media. Parents love being able to check out our facebook page to see what went on during the day and the photos are a great story starter (reminder) for the younger students. While at the school for the last 13 years it has been amazing to watch it transform from Smartboards and laptops to BYOD and Google Drive agendas. 21st century education is amazing and engaging for all.
Thanks for your articles.


Samantha September 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Hi Pam,

Thanks for commenting. It sounds like your school is fairly forward-thinking when it comes to tech. The fact that you’re able to work with laptops, smartboards and BYOD shows that it CAN be done. Unfortunately not all schools are there yet - I can vouch for that. In this digital age in which we’re living, I think that the default should be digital and paper as the backup, not the other way around. We’re not there yet..though I’m hoping we’ll get there soon.


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