Is the school experience for early phase students, their parents, and teachers improved through the use of managed online tools?

Year: 2016

Author: Banjer, Fiona

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Positive authentic partnerships value those who are working to develop the building blocks for a successful transition by students beginning their early years of school. Those new to the school community at the start of the year will respond to a welcoming environment. A Learning Management System (LMS) offers possibilities for new community members to engage with teaching staff, to observe children interacting with others and to get a ‘feel’ for school online in a ‘third space’. This research seeks to identify opportunities for parents, teachers and students to be involved in the school community online using communication tools in a LMS. It is hoped that the use made of these tools and how they are developed to generate a supportive network will be identified and replicable for future cohorts and at different schools. Research findings will inform strategies to increase online participation and highlight the positive impact of the school community’s attitude towards online communication. The everyday use made of the LMS and how this environment can be developed to blend online and face-to-face experiences will highlight opportunities to share significant experiences from both home and school. Through descriptive case study methodology a rich narrative will develop contributing to the understanding of multiple influences and influencers as participants add their voices. The literature advocates for inclusion of caregivers in the day-to-day experiences of their children at school. This research will explore the significance of a ‘third space’ describing how the goal of genuine communication can be facilitated online. Potential value for early years’ students, caregivers and teachers through an examination of the spheres of influence will provide heightened awareness of curriculum, learning, behaviour and expectations. With the early years’ student at the centre of an ecological view of school, review of the literature shows that parental involvement is a most significant factor affecting success at school. The greater the value placed by family and members of the community on the school experience, the more likelihood for sustained engagement and achievement. Empowering parent involvement is integral to the common goal of supporting students to succeed. An opportunity is presented here for recognising the value of knowledge that can be transferred in both directions between home and school. This paper will represent the initial findings of doctoral research.