What can parents do to help their child get the most out of technology?

Long gone are the days where overhead projectors and calculators were some of the most advanced pieces of technology in a classroom. These days we've got iPads, tablets, laptops, interactive whiteboards, green screens, multimedia projectors – the list goes on. 

With more and more schools flipping their classrooms and introducing BYOD programs, we're witnessing exponential growth in the tools and platforms being used by students in the classroom.  

So how can parents help their child get the most out of technology and support their online learning? 

We asked teachers for their thoughts on the topic.

Here's what they had to say: 

 

 

Cherie Borger | Technology Integration Officer @ St Pius X High School (NSW)  | @cnb29


1. Take time to find out which technology, tools and platforms your child is using. 

There is no point burying you head in the sand and saying "I don't even know what they are doing on their device". In the same way that you might flick through a subject exercise book, take interest in the digital work your child is doing. This will help you to know the technology terminology that your child and their teacher are using, helping you to remain a partner in their learning. 

2. Encourage your child to 'switch off' when doing school work. 

Whilst this generation often gets applauded for their ability to multi-task, it is not always appropriate to be connected to multiple platforms and social media while doing school work. Encourage your child to switch off their phone, music, emails, instant messages, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook for short durations while doing work. 

Consider apps such as SelfControl for iOS, StayFocused for Chrome, or FocusMe for Windows which can disable social media for set periods of time.

3. Ask your child to teach you about an app or a website they are using. 

You are never too old to learn. By engaging your child in the teaching process, they should naturally develop a deeper understanding for themselves. The more that you know, the less in the dark you will feel. There are also plenty of video clips and websites to teach you how to use just about any tool or platform available.  

 

Shirley Munro  | IT Teacher @ McKinnon Secondary College (VIC) | @shirleymunro

 

1. Go on a technology journey with your child. 

Only last year I signed a Year 9 student up for an online computer challenge which was due to run for 4 weeks. Parents were emailed to tell them their child had chosen to take part and that 4 weeks of commitment would be required from their child with clear deadlines for each challenge. After struggling for the first week of the challenge, one student got his father involved and together they worked through the challenges. Not only was this a great bonding session between father and son, but they were both learning new content and technology together, bringing different skills into the learning experience. 

2. Join their world. 

There is no better way to understand how young people are using technology than trying it out for yourself. Get a Twitter, Google +, Facebook, Instagram account yourself. Maybe even try a couple that your child is not yet using such as LinkedIn. By using these platforms yourself, you will gain a much better understanding of the world that young people live in. 

 

Josh Ravek | Ex-Primary School Teacher | Current Education Specialist @ Stile  | @jravek

 

1. Discuss the role technology plays in their future career aspirations

"What would you like to be when you grow up?". It's a question every child will be asked hundreds of times, and although their answers may change from time to time, our responses to them shouldn't. 

For example, a child may respond by saying he or she is interested in space and one day wants to be an Astronaut (who wouldn't?). However rarely would they be aware of what it really takes to achieve this dream. Not only do they need a Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics but skills and technical knowledge 

As a parent, this is a great opportunity to research with your child the role technology plays in space exploration and further spark their interest by introducing them to space-themed educational apps and games. In doing so, you are using their specific interests to help them understand how technology is relevant to them and their goals. 

2. Make children aware of how technology has evolved over the years and the impact it's had on our way of life. 

In the same way it's difficult for us to imagine life before electricity and cars, most children aren't aware of life pre-internet, smartphones and tablets.

The next time you are helping your child 'Google' something for a school project, show them a physical encyclopedia and show them how it was used to search for answers. The next time you need to look up a phone number, take out the old phonebook and show your child how it was you used to search for someone's contact number. And finally, before you sit down to watch a show or movie on Netflix/Stan/Presto/ Foxtel; show them a VHS (I bet you still have a few lying around).

By doing this, it will help them understand how technology has changed over the years and the impact it's had on our way of life. 

3. Ask your child how technology can be improved. 

Rather than simply consuming technology (or having technology consume us), asking your child to think about ways technology can be improved will foster curiosity, creativity and a sense that their ideas can change the world. 

For example, when you are at the supermarket next, use the self-service check out and ask your child their opinion on how the process can be improved. Even though some of their ideas may seem unfeasible at the time, the goal here is to develop an innovation mindset. 
 

Are there any tips and suggestions we've overlooked? Have you found another way of helping a child get the most out technology? Are you a parent that's gone from knowing nothing about technology to taking daily 'Snaps'?

We'd love to hear from you - let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.