Community Partnerships: Digital Learning Framework
We have been sharing the different aspects of our digital learning framework, this week we share details on Community Partnerships that support digital learning.
Schools have had partnerships with their communities pretty much since the beginning of public education, so it’s certainly nothing new. More recently, schools have been trying to better meet the needs of the community by providing more than just educational services to children and their parents. Many schools have become the hubs of their communities, offering access to classes, health services, meeting spaces, and even technology tools to not only children and families but to the greater population. This expanded role requires additional attention to planning and presentation.
Community Partnerships: Five elements
In considering community partnerships in the context of digital learning, we’ve broken it down into five elements:
- Local community engagement and outreach
- Global and cultural awareness
- Digital learning environments as community connectors
- Parent/Guardian communication and engagement
- District and school brand
Community Partnerships: Friends in local places
When we think about community partnerships, the first element is probably what we envision—reaching out to local entities for support to provide opportunities for students. As an example, many schools have established partnerships with community based organizations to provide after school programming for students. Other examples include community service projects, apprenticeships, shows or displays of student work in public spaces, or field trips to local museums or public spaces. Our vision for engagement and outreach emphasizes a focus on extending learning experiences beyond the school walls in order to bring relevance and real-world context to the work students do in school.
Community Partnerships: Expanding horizons
Educators can expand traditional community partnerships through the use of technology tools for communication and idea sharing. Partnerships can become global, virtually bringing in experts from around the world and helping expose students to diverse cultures and ideas that may not be possible within the local community. With this access comes responsibility of course. Access to devices and tools throughout the community is important, as is ensuring students’ safety and privacy as they interact with peers and adults both in their community and throughout the world.
Community Partnerships: Beyond backpacks
As the center of the community, schools are tasked with serving not only students but their parents as well. Schools with successful parent partners engage them in traditional ways, often using non-traditional tools. While paper communications are still necessary and effective for many parents, online newsletters, blogs, and social media are powerful tools that allow family members to be informed and engaged regardless of whether they reside nearby. Even the long-awaited snow day announcements have migrated to Twitter in many communities! Schools that are effective at engaging parents have a plan in place and use multiple methods to ensure all parents have easy access to the resources they need.
Community Partnerships: What’s your tagline?
While branding may seem a little too corporate for schools, having a consistent message and using online tools to tell your school’s story is increasingly important. Given the wide range of communication tools available, ensuring that all communication from the school has a consistent, positive message is essential to garnering widespread community support for school activities and initiatives. Digital tools make it possible for all school voices to be heard, from the administration to the kindergartners, such that everyone in the community is aware of all the great things happening at the local school!
Community Partnerships: Stay tuned
Next week we’ll talk about some strategies for establishing and maintaining strong community partnerships that offer benefits for all stakeholders. While you’re waiting, check out these resources from Edutopia that outline the benefits of schools partnering with local organizations as well as providing some great examples to get your wheels turning.