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Together we achieve - using ICT to engage parents in the Manurewa Cluster

National Goal

Family and Whanau to actively participate in their child’s learning

Cluster goal

Staff and students will develop online resources that parents can access to monitor the learning and engagement of their children

Action Plan

In order to involve our community of parents and students in the learning process, the High School set up a three step process to achieve these goals:

  1. Introduce a LMS that would become the hub of everyday learning
  2. Develop a parent portal where parents could monitor their child’s learning
  3. Join the Computers in Homes project to provide tools for parents and children who do not have access to a computer at home 

1. Learning Management System

  • Towards the end of 2009 we decided to implement Ultranet as our Learning Management System.  It was first introduced to a limited number of staff who trialled the system, uploading interactive materials that would assist students with their learning. 

  • Staff were given PD sessions at regular intervals to assist them in the process. Department meeting times were dedicated to making staff comfortable in the use of the system.  Other one-on-one sessions were given to staff who needed more assistance or were new to the school.

  • Throughout 2010 more resources were added as staff became more engaged with the LMS. In 2011 after the installation of a fast fibre internet connection service to the school, other online tools were made easily accessible to staff and students, such as Google Docs and MyPortfolio.

  • The parent portal was made fully live in 2011, and now includes reporting, timetable information, assessment and attendance data directly linked to our Student Management System.

Use of the LMS

The school has identified that it wants the LMS to:

  • be easy to use and integrate into learning programmes
  • be up to date, relevant and easily accessible to students, staff and parents

Ultranet, by design, is easy to use to upload student tasks, quizzes and resources such as PowerPoint presentations and videos. Students can log on to the LMS to complete online worksheets, quizzes, access learning media resources, wikis and blogs.  They have their own e-portfolio "U-Space" where they can upload their own digital work and network with other learners.

2. Computers in Homes

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The last National census identified that Manurewa has one of the lowest number of computers in homes of any urban area. A formal survey in 2010 showed that although 90% of families had a computer at home, only 65% of these had an internet connection (many on dial up) and often a large number of family members shared one computer.  With a computer-student ratio of 1:3 Manurewa High School works hard to provide students with connectivity at school, however we wanted to do more to improve the ICT literacy of families in our community.

We investigated many different ways in which we could assist parents to become more computer literate and were extremely fortunate to be accepted into the “Computers in Homes” project.

This programme targets low decile schools, to help families in greatest need to use the internet, email and basic computer skills in their everyday lives, to enhance their performance at school and at work.

For an administration fee of $50, families receive:

  • a good quality recycled computer
  • 6 month's broadband connection with filtering, where available
  • free training and technical support

Families come to the school one evening per week for 20 hours of training on basic ICT skills, after which time they graduate and are given a computer to take home.  This is proving to be an excellent way for families to learn together.  So far 30 families have taken up this programme and are on their way to owning their computer.  View a video of Computers in Homes training here: Computers in Homes video

3. Parent Portal

Our Parent Portal became fully functional in 2011.  Parents can now log into the RewaNet (Ultranet) system to check their children’s:

  • reports
  • attendance
  • timetable information
  • assessment information
  • contact details


Reflections

If you refer to our school website http://www.manurewa.school.nz/ you will notice the login tab has a number of options. Parents can log in to see their child’s progress, staff can upload resources and see student progress, and both staff and students can access webmail.

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The initiatives the school has taken have pushed a number of staff out of their comfort zone and forced them to embrace the digital age in a more intense manner than they otherwise would have, however now they are seeing the benefits and ease of allowing students to take more responsibility for their own learning.  It also enables both parents and teachers to monitor more closely student progress and engagement.

Parents from the community who are in the process of learning to use a computer are excited and delighted to have the opportunity to own a computer and learning things that their children are doing during the school day.  Teachers who are supervising these courses for the parents say “this is how teaching should always be – exciting, fun and involving all generations”.

While this shows what the High School is doing in communicating with the community, the Intermediate and Primary schools are using blogs and wikis to help engage their parents. For examples see: www.mcmiddlesc.wikispaces.com  www.mancent16.blogspot.com  www.room18.blogspot.com

Summary

While this is still a journey in progress we are very satisfied that it has been a good decision to use this method of communicating with the community and involve both parents and students in the learning process.

Parents now feel more comfortable in using computers and have already made plans for other courses to keep them up to date with technology.

Because our cluster involves primary, intermediate and secondary schools, as the students’ progress from school to school, they are bringing skills and expectations with them which are being scaffolded as they move through the three contributing schools. 

Who are we?

The Manurewa Cluster comprises Manurewa High School (decile 2, 1926 students), Manurewa Intermediate School (decile 1, 753 students) and Manurewa Central School (decile 3, 510 students).

Where: South Auckland

ICT-PD Cohort: 2009