Engaging parents and the community in digital literacy practices that originate in classrooms is an important means of providing authentic purposes for digital literacy and offers pupils opportunities to write for audiences external to the classroom. In this way, children and young people can engage with unknown interlocutors in the exchange of information and ideas, mirroring uses of technology that they will encounter in both leisure and employment in future years. As Marsh (2010) suggests, commenting on Martin Waller’s work (2010) in which a class of Year 2 pupils, use Twitter to communicate with others outside of the school:
‘Reading in this context means not simply decoding, but involves taking part in the construction of social networks in which knowledge is co-constructed and distributed. Reading is, in this example, a social practice that extends \beyond the walls of the classroom and enables children to engage in forums in which inter-generational literacy is commonplace’, (Marsh, 2010: 29)
The use of ICT in the home and communities has seen a sharp increase since 2000; children potentially have more access to computers in homes than in schools (Wellington 2002). Wellington discusses the ‘secret garden’ of the learner at home exploring the implications for teachers, and questioning the impact of home learning and teachers’ response. All the school in this project welcomed home and community support as having the potential to enhance rather than ‘interfere’ with education in school. Classroom practice and curriculum foci generated interest and engaged parents.
Across the case studies, it is possible to see ways in which the pupils engage with parents (See Case Study 5; Case Study 8) and the community (See Case Study 2; Case Study 4). In many cases the children taught their parents, grandparents and siblings how to use the technology, giving the children the opportunity to be the experts and develop their confidence and self-esteem. (See also 3.5.1 Online/offline relationships and 2.5.3 Digital Natives )
The DeFT Project engaged the community by displaying children’s work on a large screen in a dome in the Winter Gardens in Sheffield in July 2012 as part of Sheffield Children’s Festival, (See Case Study 14) The mural was interactive – as visitors clicked on each flower, they brought up a trace of the process through which the flowers had been created. Example of this include a child’s comment from the blog; a video of the children at work; an interview with individuals about using Brushes. Engaging the wider community in pupils’ work in this way gives learners immense pride in their achievements and creates meaningful opportunities for cumulative practices that reach a wide audience. As Pahl (2012) argues, such community-based projects can provide a strong ‘reason to write’.
For References see 3.5.5 References / Links to Further Information