Using an online social media space to engage parents in student learning in the early-years: Enablers and impediments

Linda-Dianne Willis, Beryl Exley

Abstract


Unprecedented changes to family life in the new millennium have left many parents feeling unable to effectively participate in their child’s school-based learning. This article presents research which explored enablers and impediments when using social media as part of an inquiry curriculum to promote parent engagement in student learning in one Australian school. Using collaborative inquiry research, various data were collected from two early-years teachers, their students, and the students’ parents using surveys, a full-day meeting, online weekly meetings, interviews, and the social media digital platform of Seesaw. Rogoff’s three interrelated planes of sociocultural analysis – personal, interpersonal, and community – were used to examine participant interactions and their effects. The agency|structure dialectic provided a conceptual lens to further explain how the social media apparatus of Seesaw enabled learning and teaching. The findings showed that access to forms of language needed to contribute to online social media spaces drew attention to the importance of teachers having at the ready a substantive knowledge of inquiry. Implications for future research are discussed.


Keywords


agency|structure dialectic; digital technologies; early-years; inquiry curriculum; parent-school engagement

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