Engage Families in Infrastructure
Family engagement is essential for technology leaders to remove barriers to student technology use and create an inclusive technology infrastructure. Families regularly use technology with their students and are intimately familiar with their students’ assistive technology and accessibility needs. Read on to learn more about how district leaders and educators can include families in infrastructure efforts.
Provide Families Access
District technology leaders provide families with adequate access to district technology tools and subscriptions.
Actions to provide families access:
- Provide a parent app or portal as a one-stop-shop for family communication and information gathering.
- Share a comprehensive list of digital tools the district uses with general information and login information.
- Publicize the district’s student privacy and security policies, and share best practices.
- Establish a process for families, support staff, and AT providers of students with low incidence and/or significant disabilities to access student accounts.
Provide Technical Support to Families
District leaders provide timely, responsive, and quality technical support to families.
Actions to provide technical support:
- Solicit feedback from families when provisioning technology devices and software to students with disabilities to ensure the usability and accessibility of that technology.
- Host easy-to-access trainings using multiple modalities to all families for commonly used digital tools in the district, including accessible technologies and materials and assistive technologies.
- Offer help desk support to all families, and ensure help desk staff are knowledgeable about accessible and assistive technologies to offer comprehensive support to families of students with disabilities.
Check out all of the CITES Family Engagement practices.
- Pathways to Acquiring Accessible Materials & Technologies, The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials
- Provide ongoing support to promote families’ and caregivers’ engagement, Digital Promise
- Getting Started: Exploring Assistive Technology with Your Teen or Young Adult, Parent Center
- Office of Educational Technology’s Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide, U.S. Department of Education
- Digital Citizenship Resources for Family Engagement, Common Sense Education
Borup, J., Walters, S., & Call-Cummings, M. (2019). Examining the complexities of parental engagement at an online charter high school: A narrative analysis approach. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i1.3605
Gu, X., Crook, C., & Spector, M. (2019). Facilitating innovation with technology: Key actors in educational ecosystems. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(3), 1118–1124. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12786
Kiger, D., & Herro, D. (2015). Bring your own device: Parental guidance (PG) suggested. TechTrends, 59(5), 51–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-015-0891-5
Mac Iver, M.A., Sheldon, S., & Clark, E. (2021) Widening the portal: How schools can help more families access and use the parent portal to support student success, Middle School Journal, 52:1, 14-22, https://doi.org/10.1080/00940771.2020.1840269
Petko, D., Prasse, D., & Cantieni, A. (2018). The interplay of school readiness and teacher readiness for educational technology integration: A structural equation model. Computers in the Schools, 35(1), 1-18.