Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tools to Connect with Students and Parents


At the beginning of this school year, our school board updated a policy stating that staff were no longer required to use myPISD.net. All are encouraged to explore other options and myPISD.net is still available as an option for staff.


Communicating with students, parents, and the larger PISD community can take many forms and PISD Tech is often asked for suggestions. There is not one magic site that will be the perfect fit for all grade levels or subject areas but here are a few suggestions.


What is it?  Classrooms cutting down on paper enjoy Google Classroom because of the ways to create, distribute, complete, submit, and grade assignments online. Google Classroom is available to GAFE districts and can be accessed easily via the web or by downloading the free Classroom app. Collaborative or individual work is easy to do in Google Classroom. There are also ways to have engaging conversations in a private setting.
Pros - Google Classroom has unlimited storage. It’s free. It’s easy to use and easy to access. A simple YouTube search can provide dozens of tutorial videos and their Help Site is awesome!
Cons - Only school districts associated with GAFE can use Google Classroom. It is not accessible via regular Gmail addresses. Parents can only view Google Classroom content if they have their child’s login and password.
Bonus - PISD Tech would be happy to help you set this up!


What is it?  Weebly is a place to build a website of your own. The design, layout, and style is your choice and its drag-and-drop features are easy to use. Teachers can post blogs, photos, videos, and any other course content easily and students can access it via the web.
Pros  Customizing your site to your classroom is easy to do. You can select your own site name and have an unlimited number of pages within your site. Students and parents only need to be able to access with web to view your content anywhere in the world. The site has a helpful support page and offer free live-chat assistance.
Cons - It’s considered a “freemium” product. The free version of this product has a storage limit of 500MB and will not allow a teacher password protect a page. Teachers are required to pay for a higher version of this product to access more features and get more storage.
Bonus - PISD Tech would be happy to help you set this up!


What is it? - A Google Folder can contain different kinds of content and is stored within Google Drive. It is similar to a folder in the Shared Drive however, this Google Folder can be viewed by staff, students, and/or parents either inside or outside of PISD.  The content in the Google Folder can be large or small files such as videos, documents, images, or other course content. The teacher would be the owner of the Google Folder and assign rights to students and parents such as viewers, editors, or commenters.
Pros - It’s free. It has unlimited storage. Students and parents only need to click a link to view the contents without having to log in. Uploading content into the folder is easy and it can be organized into color-coded subfolders. The Google Drive Help Forum is great!
Cons - It’s a folder so it will not have a layout or design like a website.
Bonus - PISD Tech would be happy to help you set this up!


What is it?  Facebook is a social networking site that is familiar to many users. Teachers can post blogs, photos, videos, and any other course content. Students and parents with a Facebook account can access the Facebook page via the web or by downloading the free Facebook app.
Pros - It’s a free and easy to use format that is familiar to those with Facebook accounts. A page can be set to private so that only specific users can view content.
Cons - Only those with a Facebook account can access the content. Students under the age of 13 cannot have a Facebook account. Facebook retains the rights to sell your data and information for marketing purposes.
Bonus - PISD Tech would be happy to help you set this up!


What is it?  A Google Site is a place to build a website of your own. The design, layout, and style is your choice. Teachers can post blogs, photos, videos, and any other course content and students can access it via the web. If a Google Site is created with a GAFE account, it will have 10G of storage space. A teacher can opt to have the Google Site viewed by anyone in the world or only his/her students. Another option is for staff to allow students rights to edit site content.
Pros - It’s free. Students and parents only need to be able to access with web to view course content anywhere in the world. The Google Sites Help Center is growing every day!
Cons - Google Sites is an advanced tool that requires more work to set up. A good knowledge of web design and GAFE is helpful but not necessary.
Bonus - PISD Tech would be happy to help you set this up!


We’re sure you caught the Bonus was the same for each suggestion. The PISD Tech team is always happy to help you with these or any other applications you’re interested in learning.

The five suggestions above are certainly not the only ones out there and we encourage you to explore your options. Some staff members choose to use several tools simultaneously to meet their needs. The right tool (or combination of tools) for you depends upon your audience, your management style, and your course content. It is our hope that you will find the right tool that fits you and your learners and remember we are here to help you along the way!

2 comments:

  1. So please make MyPISD stop popping up when we login.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's coming down the pike, Kelly.

    ReplyDelete