Once or twice a year, parents pay a visit to the school to meet with teachers and discuss about their children. Whether it’s about the academic progress their kids have made, or how they are doing in general within the school environment, the annual parent-teacher conference is a vital component within the education systems from all over the world.
So what happened when the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic? Well, naturally when the schools closed down, parent-teacher conferences were also cancelled indefinitely. But now that the schools are largely back to normal, it is time again for teachers and parents to come together and work towards creating an even better learning experience for the children. However, the pandemic is still very much an ongoing global outbreak, making it difficult for educators to find balance between social distancing restrictions and continuous teaching. To address this issue, many schools have now shifted towards hybrid education, combining and alternating between in-person and remote learning. Consequently, there is also a growing trend of school administrators hosting both virtual and physical meetings for parent-teacher conferences.
Contrary to what some may believe, having parent-teacher conferences online are not any less inferior compared to in-person meetings. In fact, these virtual conferences can bring many advantageous factors in areas where face-to-face meetings may be limited in. Today, we will be looking at some of the key reasons for why online parent-teacher conferences should be encouraged.
Flexible and Accessible
In a time of uncertainty where the world is trying to establish new “norms”, flexibility is crucial in ensuring a level playing field for all children. Having parents come into school grounds used to be the established practice for decades; however, there were always limitations that existed. The traditional parent-teacher conference often did not have a concrete schedule that the parents could follow. Instead, there would be some general timetable for when each teacher is available to talk, but often times parents would end up waiting in line for prolonged periods before they got their turn. It’s also not surprising that sometimes parents can’t make it to the conference due to work shift hours, prior commitment, or long-distance commute. With the option of having the parent-teacher conferences online, it eliminates these problems and increases the chance of both parents being able to attend. An internet connection, a compatible software, and a choice of online device is all a parent need to join a virtual conference. Parents can now communicate with teachers from the comfort of their home, or virtually anywhere through the tap of a few buttons.
Efficient and Easy
While parents can enjoy the flexibility and accessibility of attending virtually, teachers also benefit from these online conferences. No longer do teachers have to struggle with presenting students’ work to parents in a noisy gym filled with overlapping conversations, nor will they be restricted to stay at a designated table due to limited space. This is even more helpful given that masks are still a mandatory precaution in most public places, so it would be even harder to have an ideal meeting when voices and expressions are muffled in-person. By implementing educational technology in online conferences, teachers can stream and show all the work a student has done through a visualizer that’s equipped with a rotatable camera head, giving them the option to show their face and the student’s work interchangeably. Alternatively, if the teacher also likes to move around the room and gesture to points written on a blackboard, a simple tracking camera with plug-and-play USB connectivity would allow them to do so in seconds. With the utilization of these two, we can say goodbye to distracting noises and poor visibility in a room full of waiting parents.
Build an Engaged Community
Choosing to participate in online parent-teacher conferences is essentially taking a more digital approach. In the past, there are parents that skip out on these conferences due to various reasons such as long travel distance and work commitment, often resulting in social barriers and a lack of engagement. With technology weaving its way more into the field of education, the level of convenience and visibility it brings can encourage parents to attend online conferences more often and in turn allow both parties the opportunity to get consistent insights and communication from each other. In doing so, this will create a sense of community that is connected based on collaboration for the sake of the children’s growth and development.
By utilizing high-quality educational technology, online parent-teacher conferences can be a powerful and effective way in building meaningful relationships between the families and educators.