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Do You Want Your 1:1 iPad Initiative to Fail?  Part 3: Educating Parents

If you are sending iPads home you better educate your parents first!

It is important to educate parents so they know some of the things to watch out for when their children utilize technology.

In parts one and two of this series I discussed the importance of having a well prepared infrastructure and quality professional development in order to have a successful 1:1 iPad implementation in your school.  The third component necessary is educating your students’ parents.

If your students are taking their iPads home from school, there are several things that need to be considered.  I have been amazed at how little parents know of technology.  Specifically, many parents do not realize what risky opportunities are available to their children, especially when they use an unfiltered Internet connection.  It is important to educate parents so they know some of the things to watch out for when their children utilize technology.

General Internet Safety
There are many resources available to parents that teach about Internet safety.  One resource is offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cyber Crime Division.  It is important to understand that the Internet is home to child predators and people wanting to exploit children.  Parents need to know that their children shouldn’t be giving out personal information or communicating with people they do not know.  Many child predators pose as other kids or make up false identities and/or stories to lure a child’s interest.

Social Media
Almost all of our students have a Facebook or MySpace profile.  Parents should be educated on both the positive and potential negative aspects of social media.  Many students publish personal information related to their age, birthdates, what schools they attend, where they live etc.  Students also like to post pictures of themselves and friends.  Once a picture is posted to the Internet it can be almost impossible to remove it completely.  It is important to understand the privacy settings available and utilize caution when allowing students to engage in social media.

Video Chat
If you students have the new iPad or the iPad 2 they have access to Facetime.  Parents need to understand the capabilities of Facetime and need to be aware of how their children are utilizing the video/camera. 

Web Filtering
Parents often believe that because a device is school property it must be filtered.  This is not necessarily the case.  Though there are several web filtering products that allow schools to filter devices remotely, there are often workarounds students figure out.  Parents should know the types of inappropriate content available on the Internet so they can take necessary measures to protect their children.  Parents should be educated on how they can secure their home network and restrict Internet access should they desire.

Positive Uses
So far in this article I have talked about many of the negative aspects of student technology use and how parents should be educated on this use.  It is equally important to educate parents on the positive use of technology.  Doing this will lead to parents supporting your 1:1 initiative and reinforcing it with their children.  Make sure parents know how students are using the technology in school.  Give them tips on best practices and show them how technology can enhance the education of their children.  You will find that doing so will often result in a strong parent-school partnership leading to quality educational opportunities.

Well, there you have it…  These last three articles detailed three important considerations when implementing a 1:1 iPad initiative in your school:  infrastructure, professional development and parent education.  You will find that the majority of issues, concerns and problems are somehow related to one or all of these topics.

About Jon

Jon Tienhaara has worked as a teacher, principal, technology director and business manager at the Naselle School District for eleven years. He has presented at the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) conference in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA; the Microcomputers in Education Conference (MEC) at Arizona State University; and has worked with several school across the country with iPad initiatives. Jon lives in Naselle, WA with his wife and three daughters. Google