What better place than my journal to capture the journey I’ve been on collecting requirements for a K-12 Parent Portal. Based on a conversation I had with Dr. Rick Schwier, my trusted graduate advisor, I realized stories were a great way to convey the meaning of what folks are looking for in a portal. I already had several stories in my blogs and blog comments, he reminded me. I also found a theoretical basis for the work in the computer science literature, and several pieces in the general literature on story-telling as communication which I included in my project proposal. I was excited!

So for the last month I have embarked on collecting stories and using comic strips to tell these stories. I’m using Bitstrips.com thanks to a recommendation from Kelly Christopherson to build the comic strips. I soon discovered, however, that my online network had two deficiencies: first many members of my network are teachers and not always parents (or principals or trustees), and second many of these teachers vacation in July (so my network is not as active). It was and remains a struggle to get feedback on the work, although there have been a few bright spots including when two commenters began dialoguing in my blog.

A Skype call with Lorna Constantini got me back on something of a right or better track. I realize and the research supports that to engage parents you must make it personal to them. You must go where they are, not expect them to come to you. So that’s what I’ve done. First I sent emails off to Vanessa Van Petten and Kate Olson looking for advice on where to find parents online. At the same time, I searched myself. Vanessa suggested Cafemom and I found the Canadian Parents Forum. Both of these have provided fruitful comments describing the perspective of parent. I also have a couple links I’ve sourced while working on my proposal that I will post to today. And Kate has offered to have me guest post on a “mommy’s blog” that she thinks will generate good feedback. If that works out I’ll cross-post a link to my own blog at the same time. I’m posting all the work at my other blog Technology for Learning.

So while slower than I wanted (as always) the work is coming together. Next I’ll be looking at existing portals to determine what is available for parents in other school districts. I hope to have this done by early next week. Better get at it!

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