Keller Citizen

KISD Digital Summit helps parents become tech savvy

Keller school district officials recently hosted three sessions of a “Digital Summit” to help parents keep track of educational technology.

“I learned I had a lot more to learn,” said Mike Watson of Fort Worth.

His wife Jessica Watson said, “I want to be able to help our daughter who is in the fourth grade. It’s hard when your child comes home frustrated.”

Technology department educators presented an overview of district websites, several popular applications and how parents and teachers can partner in encouraging kids to be good digital citizens.

Joe Griffith, chief technology officer, said that staffers were working on new versions of the Keller ISD website and teacher sites, but compatibility and training issues prompted them to put the upgrades on hold. They are working on mobile applications that will enable Apple and Android smartphone and tablet users to easily access information.

“We conducted a survey that showed half of our families routinely access information from a mobile device,” Griffith said.

District websites and Home Access Network, the site for parents and students to review grades and attendance, do not work well on Apple devices.

EdModo has become increasingly popular as a way for students to get assignments, view teacher notes, take quizzes and polls and communicate with teachers and classmates. It works well on mobile devices and includes areas to store files so students can work on projects anywhere.

EdModo has the look and feel of popular social media sites but is accessible only to educators, students and parents, with security filters blocking inappropriate content.

Vicki Arrington, KISD technology and instructional trainer, said, “If your student is under 13, they need specific parent permission to be on EdModo.”

JoAnn Ross, who has a grandson at Central High School, said she attended the meeting to learn more about EdModo.

Some parents at the Sept. 23 session said that they hadn’t heard anything about EdModo from teachers. Parents must get a code from their student or from the teacher for online access.

Griffith said that use of the site varied from campus to campus. District officials are considering ways to make technology more consistent at similar grade levels.

Educators also talked about how to help kids practice good digital citizenship.

Maria Collins, technology and instructional trainer, said teachers are helping kids learn how to write and respond to blogs and posts in ways that are both honest and kind. They also emphasize how posts can damage reputations and create future problems.

“We need to explain that the identity they create today could haunt them tomorrow,” Collins said.

She gave several tips for parents to use in helping to train kids in appropriate online behavior: have a parent-student contract that states parents have access to child’s account at all times and which sites they can visit and what they can download, explain the need for privacy settings and strong passwords and monitor and limit media use.

Parents can take free tutorials on district technology applications through the site www.atomiclearning.com. The user name is their student’s identification number and the password is keller.

Parent Michael Ross of Keller said he had to invest a lot of time online to learn how to help his fifth grader.

“I think the biggest problem is it’s a whole new world for us,” Ross said.

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