Case Study of a New Zealand School’s Use and Development of a Parent Portal

Case Study of a New Zealand School’s Use and Development of a Parent Portal

Julie Lynch (University of Auckland, New Zealand) and Kerry Lee (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-068-2.ch015
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Abstract

Involving parents and the community in children’s learning has always been a difficult challenge. The New Zealand Ministry of Education has identified the value of this involvement and has directed schools to develop links with parents and the community. Learning Management Systems are seen as a way where this can be effectively achieved. This chapter will provide a case study of one of the first schools in New Zealand to take up the challenge of linking with parents by utilising their school learning management system. Examples will be used to provide evidence of the ways the school utilised their parent portal to enable parent and community interaction to assist with children’s learning.
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Introduction

A significant feature of information and communication technology (ICT) has been the opportunities that it has provided for the formation of school-home partnerships. Parent involvement is integral to the successful operation of any school and building school-home partnerships in this new millennium is possible through a range of technological innovations. On-line communication systems such as school websites, email, wikis and learning management systems are just some of the ways schools are now interacting with parents and the wider community. A recent innovation, discussed in an earlierchapter, is the learning management system KnowledgeNet (KNet). As part of a New Zealand Ministry of Education initiative a parent portal was developed to connect teachers, students and parents/caregivers. This parent portal, has been described as “an online portal that gives key stakeholders up-to-date, ‘on-demand’ access to individual student’s education progress” (Dataview, 2010). Through this parent portal, the key stakeholders have been able to engage and access attendance information, assessment results, school reports and interact with samples of children’s work.

Although here is a wide body of literature discussing the adoption and diffusion of course and learning management systems, few publications provide specific examples of the adoption and implementation of these tools (West, Waddoups & Graham, 2007). This chapter refers solely to the experience of one New Zealand school. This school was the first in New Zealand to develop a parent portal via their learning management system. Specific examples of child, parent, peer and teacher interaction will be used and links made with international literature on this area.

Recent developments in the New Zealand educational system with a particular focus on ICT and initiatives of the Ministry of Education will provide background information in order to “set the scene” for the reader. This chapter will then provide an overview of the school, and the implementation strategies that were utilised. Some of the strategies to implement change, the importance of whole school alignment and effective leadership, as well as the structures that were required will also be identified. The benefits, challenges, and possible impact on the engagement of key stakeholders will then be discussed.

BACKGROUND

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): ICT includes any communication device or application encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as video-conferencing and distance learning (Ministry of Education, 2010).

Normal: A normal school is a school created to assist with training student teachers to become teachers. Its purpose was to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name.

Intermediate Schools: Provide education for year 7 and 8 students (11-13 years old).

Learning Management Ssystem: A software package to manage and deliver learning content and resources to students, usually comprising a variety of applications amalgamated as an “integrated” package (Ministry of Education, 2006, p. 2).

Parent Portal: An online portal that gives key stakeholders up-to-date, “on-demand” access to an individual student’s education progress (Dataview, 2010).

Decile: The decile rating is the indicator used to measure the extent to which schools draw pupils from low socio-economic communities. A decile is a 10% grouping. Decile 1 schools are the 10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities. Decile 10 schools are the 10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students. A school’s decile rating does not indicate the overall socio-economic mix of the school. Each state and state integrated school (with the exception of health camp schools, regional health schools, and Child, Youth and Family schools) is ranked into a decile on the basis of the indicator. The indicator is based on Census data for households with school-aged children in each school’s catchment area (Ministry of Education, 2010).

Student Management System: A software application for schools and universities to manage student data. Capabilities of these student databases include attendance, behavioural and medical information, as well as storing assessment information.

State Schools: Most New Zealand schools are state schools that receive government funding. State schools can be primary, intermediate, middle, secondary or area/composite. Generally they accept both boys and girls at primary and intermediate levels (years 0-8), although some secondary schools offer single-sex education. Lessons are based on the New Zealand Curriculum.

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