Centre for Educational Multimedia
     
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Community Engagement

This Digistory focuses on engaging the community through innovative use of ICT while providing quality pedagogical opportunities for students.

Promoting a social approach to technology is not a new concept (see Feenberg, 1991; Franklin, 1992; Pacey, 1983). This digistory demonstrates the possibilities of community engagement when school communities are focused on improving relationships rather than acquiring the latest technological artefact.

As such the following stories highlight the advantages in adopting an approach to technology based on relationships rather than the flow of information (Bigum, 2002) . The relationships promoted by schools through the use of ICT provide different elements of this digistory.

Underpinning this digistory is an optimistic view of the future pedagogies in these schools. The teachers are engaging in developing their professional practice (see Professional Learning digistory).

At the same time these teachers are also decentring the learning spaces they have inherited to construct learning bubbles through the broader engagement with the community (Ferguson & Seddon, 2007). The stories below highlight the role a practice approach to technology can play in a school in transforming the places of learning for teachers, parents and students.

Relationships between parents and teacher

Cairns School of Distance Education students engage in lessons in a variety of remote locations in Far North Queensland. The home tutors, who are usually parents or caregivers, support the students in their learning which is increasingly mediated by ICT.

The principal and teachers at the school have identified the key role these home tutors play in providing role models to the students. They also realise that by developing the technological practices of these home tutors, they are supporting the development of a parent network mediated through ICT across Far North Queensland.

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Parents are the day to day teachers of their children. We have to make sure their skills are up to date... I go travelling around each area and run a program called 'Technology on the Road' ... all parents learn differently just like all children learn differently. (Technology Coordinator, Cairns School of Distance Education)

An important element of the 'Technology on the Road' program is how it is based on a respectful relationship between the parents and teachers. Teachers visit parents at home and travel long distances to provide this support.

If this could be done in remote and rural homes across a jurisdiction greater than the combined size of Tasmania and Victoria , teachers in urban contexts need to take stock of how easily a similar program could operate in their schools.

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Case study: Parent Participation

As parents become competent with ICT they find they can participate in a more productive way in their child's learning.

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Therefore the teachers, as part of their community engagement, play a role in transforming the literacy practices of the parents and students. There is also a sense that the parents are gaining something by learning these new literacies while at the same time providing role models of adult learning for their children.

The school is engaged in providing real life choices for families and supports their learning through technology in the home. As the parents enacted their decisions to learn these new literacies they subsequently were repositioning their children's social futures. They turned these emerging technological practices into a taken for granted social practice at home.

And a lot of the remote property people all have the computers and the satellite dishes and the broadband connections, so they have the hardware. And because for them it’s such a tool for their daily lives. They check the weather, they check with the bushfires are, they do their shopping online, they order - you know, all these things that they do, that’s part of their everyday life. (Technology Coordinator, CSDE)

The teachers realise they are supporting the broader context of ICT learning by extending the parents ICT practices in everyday life. As a consequence the children are being apprenticed into a family that is learning about integrating new literacies in their everyday life. Part of this learning involves a critical analysis of the benefits of the new literacies in terms of improved access to information and the ease of mediating social relationships though ICT.

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