Electronic devices used for help with homework
LAFAYETTE — The Vermilion Parish School Board has launched new homework help classes — for parents.
Bring Your Own Device teaches parents how to use electronic products they already own — whether an iPod, iPhone or personal computer — to access homework resources and connect with their students’ teachers.
“We want to create awareness that they’re not disconnected to the functional use of technology even if they don’t have a computer in their home,” said Marcil Seals, the district’s classroom technology supervisor.
The idea for the classes grew out of the Vermilion Parish chapter of the NAACP’s interest in working with the district to close the technology gap in the community, especially in rural areas, Seals said.
In addition to the local NAACP chapter, South Louisiana Community College and Cox Communications are also partners in the effort.
As a way to ensure more families have access to the Internet, Cox Communications offers a special rate of $9.95 a month for Internet service to families whose children qualify for free lunch, said Patricia Thompson, Cox Communications public affairs manager for the Acadiana region.
Thompson said the company joined with the national nonprofit initiative Connect2Compete to offer the discount program.
“More and more homework assignments are being given that require Internet connectivity,” Thompson said.
“We are helping low-income families get connected.”
The partnership also connects parents to educational opportunities available through SLCC, said Willie Smith, SLCC vice chancellor of economic and workforce development.
The college loaned the district a vehicle equipped with computers that can move the digital classes into the communities later this school year and into the summer, Smith said.
The first class will be at 5 p.m. Nov. 13 at Eaton Park Elementary.
While parents are encouraged to bring their own devices, it’s not necessary — computers and other electronic products will be available for parents to use during the training sessions.
Seals created a Community Technology Outreach website that provides parents the resources for English language arts and math based on their students’ grade level.
The site provides information for parents so they can help their children with homework assignments, Seals said.
The website also provides a direct link to communicate with teachers and the district.
The website and parent classes are timely as school districts throughout the state implement more rigorous learning standards known as the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. Districts are rolling out new curriculums aligned with the new standards.
“When the kids come home with a new curriculum, parents don’t need to know how to do this stuff. But if they can connect to resources, they can help their child with homework,” Seals said.
Seals said he views the program as a model — not just for community educational programs, but for community partnerships.
“It’s not just to do the training — but to communicate the message that various groups from private business, nonprofit and education interested in coming together can create interesting programs to help underserved communities,” he said.