Log in

Connect with our communities with - and about - ICTs

How does your school talk with and involve its community of families and whānau? There will, no doubt, be a range of ways that you inform, discuss and share the learning in your school, from newsletters to parents' evenings.

  • To what extent are you able to extend these conversations using technologies? Why would you?
  • And to what extent do you also need to deliberately involve your community when you talk about how we can use ICTs for learning?

This forum aims to explore ways to make connections with your community using different technologies, and the benefits provided by these connections. Commentators include: Moana Timoko, Janelle Riki and Togi Lemanu (National Blended e-Learning facilitators for Māori and Pasifika).

Until then, check out this snapshot from Enabling e-Learning, in which Principal Dave McShane, teacher Susan Lee, and kaumatua from Te Kura o Kutarere discuss how technologies have helped to engage the local community to support and share students' learning.

Source: Enabling e-Learning: Leadership - Beyond the Classroom


  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 12 Sep 2012 9:22pm ()

    While visiting a school today the teacher explained how she had shared their new Ultranet site with parents.  She created a virtual tour of the site and showed it to her students.  In turn for homework, the students then had to take their parents through the site and explain how it worked.  Parents then had their own homework to do - upload a document to demonstrate their new understanding and expertise! A nice balance I thought of teacher, student and family working and learning together with IT.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2012 9:49am ()

    That's a lovely story Diane, I could really visualise this happening. It also reminds me of the 'flipped classrooms' or 'inverted instruction' method as mentioned in the Home and Authentic Learning thread.

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2012 1:02pm ()

    WOW Diane, what a great idea, thanks for sharing!  How did this school overcome any students that did not have internet access at home or a computer they can access?

  • Valay Raman (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2012 11:36am ()

    Thanks Janelle. We know this works yet some teachers don't practice this as often as they should.

    I had a group of year 5/6 e-learning students teach a group of parents yesterday how to sign up and post blogs. I will video the next interaction with their permission- simply awesome for both parents and students. My students were very nervous at first but once into the lesson, I could not not stop the discussion, interaction and the learning. We reflected afterwards and my student plus the parents simply cannot wait for next Wednesday. Please try this if you can. Afterall it is known fact that the best way to learn is to teach.

    Here is one of my students blogs. Please visit and comment.



    We have now invested in a colourful, large digital signboard for our school as another method of communicating with our families. This will be on 24 hours-365 days in front of our school with important messages for the community in regards to our school. I am thinking that, wishing children happy birthday could be an important announcement for the child and their families. What other important notices could we put up on our digital signboard? Your ideas and thoughts would be helpful and greatly appreciated. The signboard is costing us $12000.

  • Janelle Riki (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2012 1:01pm ()

    Kia ora Valay, I did check out Jone's blog and left a wee comment - what a great bog!  The digital signboard is fantastic! Does it have capability for short video clips with sound to be played or just still images?  I was thinking that you could have different children greeting people to the school in different languages! If it can just display still images, what a great way to showcase examples of students work and photographs of happenings around the school.

  • Amy McCauley (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2012 9:49am ()

    I think including parents/ caregivers/ whanau in their child's online world is so important.  We talk about students having a wider audience and including parents in their audience is such a powerful tool.  I use wikispaces a lot with my year 5 classa and I really wanted parents to be involved in their child's space.  Parents are often mentioning how little they know about the digital world, so to involve them would also mean educating them.  We decided to run parent workshops at night.  We have now run two of these sessions.  Orginally we thought we would run them every 4 - 6 weeks.  Our first workshop was on wikispaces and after feedback realised the parents needed a follow up session the following week.  So we ran a second one this week and had some familiar faces (who became the 'experts') and some newbies.  On the second workshop we also looked at what made a quality comment.

    Seems this has been a great success and it has also opened up the path of conversation around this topic even further.  The parents can see the real benefit in using these tools and my students have already commented on their parents feeback. 

    To back this all up, we are also emaling a weekly eNewsletter to parents.  In this they can see specific events from our classroom as well as students reflecting on the week (interviews, etc).  This has allowed me greater connetion with the parents on a weekly basis as this is often a converasation started either through emails or face-to-face).

    Our next session is on Twitter and how parents can get involved as many classes use this microblogging throughout the day. 

    For me it is great to see the parents connecting with their children on another level and my students are even more aware of the content they put up as they know they have people in their immedate circle viewing this.  

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2012 12:29pm ()

    Kia ora Amy - Tino pai āu mahi!

    I recently met with a principal & teacher who are not yet confident in using skype but mentioned that they know of whānau members from within their community who are using skype to contact whānau overseas.  I suggested that they draw on the expertise of those whānau to share their knowledge with the students, staff and other whānau members.  They have since identified other members of their community with expertise in the use of other e-Learning tools/devices and will be calling on them to share what they know.  Acknowledging, involving and appreciating the expertise of whānau is very important in building & sustaining strong supportive relationships.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 19 Sep 2012 11:00am ()

    Thank you for sharing your examples here Amy. From your story, as well as the scenarios shared by Diane and Valay, its clear to see how important it is to make F2F connections with parents too. Providing in-school opportunities to inform and upskill family/whānau about e-learning, no doubt has long-term benefits for the families involved.

    I’m just wondering how many parents/caregivers have access to mobile phones and how we can harness the potential for group text messages and feeds from social media sites (Facebook, Twitter). Is anyone doing this already? I’m also wondering how many whānau have smart/android phones - which can read QR codes?

    Allanah King has bookmarked iPad Activity: Open House Scavenger Hunt where one teacher created a sheet that had instructions for a scavenger hunt around the school– using QR codes. The purpose was to give the parents and kids the information needed to begin the new school year. This idea could be incorporated into school visits, report evenings, trips away perhaps? This could be a great way to entice parents to engage with their children on a mobile device -  that is both educational and fun.

    Interested in more?  Janette Hoggard has bookmarked a generator that creates the QR codes for your treasure hunt. You must put in at least 5 questions and answers and click create!


    QR code

  • Valay Raman (View all users posts) 19 Sep 2012 2:39pm ()

    At Finlayson we use text messages for student absences. Most parents have mobile phones instead of land lines and I think that would be worth investigating as another method of keeping a positive conversation going especially for when children have done something awesome. I can imagine myself as a parent, receiving such a text and showing it off to my friends and family-possibly saving the text for his 21st birthday -this would make me proud and possibly develop a positive relationship between school, child and parent. I wonder what would be the total cost of such a practice. I believe we have landed on a winner here in terms of feedback. Feedback has a massive effect on learning.

  • Togi Lemanu (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2012 10:37am ()

    Talofa lava Amy,

    This is awesome work on your behalf.  I would really like to know more about 'educating' our parents and for me I really want to push our Pasifika parents to get them onto these spaces and the use of it.  Our Pasifika parents tend to see issues about the use of Facebook and they tend to shy away from it but then there are also benefit going onto other useful sites.  It is actually reminding our Pasifika parents that it is 'ok' to use such tools for communication and exploration and also part of the learning of their children as well as themselves.  I would like to hear more about your work with parents Amy.  Well done....Smile

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 25 Sep 2012 10:39pm ()

    This is an interesting read Exploring kura engagement strategies with whānau, iwi and kura.

    You'll find links to related stories about engaging whānau.

  • Amanda OConnell (View all users posts) 27 Sep 2012 2:15pm ()

    Hi there whānau, is anybody in a school where they are using edmodo as a social platform for communicating with the community and blogging for students? Would love to know about your experiences Smile

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 27 Sep 2012 3:31pm ()

    Ruia School- Whānau Partnerships http://partnerships.ruia.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Reviewing-partnerships 

    Has an interactive tool that helps school leaders and whānau to identify the strengths and needs of their school–whānau partnerships in relation to seven areas:

    • Overview
    • The school curriculum
    • Teaching and learning at school
    • Teaching and learning at home 
    • Reporting
    • Day-to-day involvement in the school community
    • Special events and occasions
    You can either register your school to access the tool or check out the download.
    You'll also find other useful info.

  • TeAhua Park (View all users posts) 19 Dec 2012 9:35am ()

    Kia Ora Koutou

    I'm a bit of a "newbie" when it comes to posting on the VLN. (first post actually)  I tend to just browse through the feed and  not make any contribution...but I was particularly interested in this discussion.  I think making a connection to the community is vitally important in the whole scheme of e-learning.  I wanted to share an article of about my class entitled "Children Connected" that came out today in our local paper.  


    Over the past term I, along with Stevie Woodman have run a class in the community.  We were lucky enough to have top Energy gift us a space for the term.  Our guiding priniciples have been on students making connections to others (co-operative learning), to self (key competencies), to community (real life authentic projects/ inquiry) & to the world (through use of ICT).    The thing that really stood out for me was how engaged students were when they worked through an inquiry model to answer the key question:  How can I contribute to making Kaikohe (our community) better?  Funily enough it also got parents and community involved because they also wanted to help make a difference.  As mentioned above, social media worked wonders in keeping parents "in the loop" as did having a kai and barbecue in our local park before sharing our learning journey & student work with whanau.  There was standing room only...just!  I guess the point I am making is...we have to get out in the community to make changes.  We have to be approachable, we have to try new ways of keeping contact with whanau (and with technology we can)...we have to break down the barriers, and I do mean the physical ones too (most schools have fences and I'm not sure if its to keep kids in or parents out...) as well as invovle our communities.  Most parents want to help.  I work in a decile 1 community with 98% Maori....parents have so much trust in teachers and tend to let us do our job...yet they have so many talents and knowledge they could share.  So I guess we need to KNOW our whanau and invite them in to share...or go to them in the community.

    I found working in the community gave us so much more opportunities to do things.  Community groups got invovled...students worked with local businesses....we learnt, solved problems & contributed to our community in "real time"....resulting in engaged, empowered learners.

    I look forward to reading more...and even contributing the little bit I have to offer to discussions around e-learning.  I am so passionate about finding ways to connect with whanau and communities so appreciate the ideas from you all.  

  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 19 Dec 2012 9:45am ()

    I agree whole heartedly with everything you have said. I think it must be a partnership between home and school. Each school has its own culture and I would love to see more bonds being made between partners in education like this.

    Congratulations too for taking the leap from lurker to contributer :-)

  • Moana Timoko (View all users posts) 21 Dec 2012 12:48am ()

    Kia ora Te Ahua - Nice to see you here!!!!  Just thought I'd add a little more info about Te Ahua's wonderful contributions to our community of Kaikohekohe - The article is a year old but see the progress mentioned in Te Ahua's previous post.

    Kids thrive on netbook computers

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 01 Feb 2013 3:08pm ()

    Merivale School are doing some exciting things to connect with the local community. Their radio station (107.5 FM) has been going out live on air for two years now.

    They’ve set up their station with the radio bundle from Sitec, with four microphones in a small, dedicated space off from the library. They’re also licensed to play music through Apra.

     Merivale DJs at work

    Students get skilled in the art of on-air production and designate themselves roles – lead DJ, helper, interviewees etc. They korero in both English and Māori, sharing their mihi and sometimes even singing along to their own school song. The rush to get into the station at breaktimes, is a testimony to how much these students love this.

    They have a vested interest in involving their parents and some ring home to ask for song requests. Responses have come as far a-field as Auckland. The feedback from the community is incredibly encouraging and teachers have noticed improvements to oral literacy skills, as well as self-confidence and self-managing skills.

    Merivale School welcomes visitors if you want to know more.

    Anyone else connecting with their community via radio waves? If so, how is this working for you?

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 01 Feb 2013 3:12pm ()

    Wow! That is very cool. What a great way to develop some great life skills and fantastic that they are involving their parents.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 01 Feb 2013 3:17pm ()

    Thanks for the feedback Nathaniel Smile I was pretty impressed when I visited yesterday. They were literally rushing in through the door at break time. Their professionalism was something to be proud of too Smile

Join this group to contribute to discussions.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom - Connecting school to the wider community with and about technologies.