Home Access & Digital Literacy: How to Support Families with New Devices
As school districts survey their communities to assess the need for connectivity and device access, it can be helpful to also include a few questions to parents about their digital literacy and comfort supporting their children’s use of the technology. Consider asking families simple multiple-choice questions that can help you focus your efforts to best support them. Additionally, assume that your parents need support and are unfamiliar with the use of your devices.
School districts should create a printed guide on “How to Get Started with Your New Device” to be distributed with the equipment. While a digital version should also be available on your website, remember that for many of your families, Internet connectivity in the home is predicated on this device. If instructions for use are only online, families might not be able to access them.
Focus this guide on helping families power-up, login, get online, and get to your website where you can then provide more in-depth information. Your guide should bring families to your COVID-19 homepage where families will see links to more technical support and other important information from your school district.
Technology uses a lot of jargon, and so do schools! Use plain language whenever possible.
If there are families in your district who speak a language other than English at home, you may need to produce multiple language versions of the guide.
Photographs and screenshots of the device and setup process that exactly match what families will see can be very helpful.
Especially for younger learners, many school districts facilitate logins to devices using QR codes printed on ID badges or cards. School districts may wish to provide these badges with the device.
Include hours of operation and a phone number to your telephone help desk. Even if your district doesn’t usually maintain a telephone help desk, the chances are that your telephone system can facilitate forwarding calls to an outside line. This would allow you to establish a help desk number without distributing individual staff phone numbers.
Visit our toolkit page on How to Establish Technical Support Systems for more information.
WEB-BASED TECHNICAL SUPPORT RESOURCE
Review what technical support resources you already have on your website and determine if you need to create new resources specific to supporting your loaner devices. School districts may find that some common platforms and apps lack any online resources on your website because trained teachers have always been present whenever they were used. Additionally, consider creating a new landing page for technical support that is linked to directly from your COVID-19 homepage. On this webpage, remember that parents and students are your primary audience. Consider organizing content by grade bands to simplify navigation.
1 | Do not assume that people will find this information if it requires navigating submenus.
2 | Review pre-existing documentation in light of parents who may have never seen or used these resources.
Remember that even though students may have routinely used these resources at school, they did so under the direct supervision of a teacher.
PARENTAL SUPPORT FOR DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP
For families new to having an Internet-connected device in the home, understanding what kids are doing online, how to support them, and how to make decisions about what their children may or may not engage with can be extremely challenging. School districts should consider offering live programming (like webinars) or directing families to other live or recorded programming that addresses these topics.
1 | Common Sense Media
- Presentations for Parent Night Meetings – These presentations can be modified to your district’s needs and used to host an online webinar
- Ultimate Guides to learn about popular social media platforms
- Parental Controls – Tips and instructions for parents to manage access to various social media platforms
2 | WSWHE BOCES Parent Webinars
1 | Create your Getting Started Guide.
2 | Review user device authentication.
3 | Establish a phone support help desk if necessary
4 | Review your existing online support documentation in light of new parent users.
5 | Develop and assemble your district’s support resources for families to manage devices at home, including digital citizenship resources.