In this project we analyzed how to establish bridges between the family and the school through the use of new technologies. For this we took the data from an extracurricular activity conducted in a public school where boys and girls, together with their families, write the articles for the school digital newspaper.
The general objective of this study is to analyze the design in an educational environment, by means of the new technologies, which allows the development of skills related to new literacies within a process of joint construction of knowledge with the participation of children and their families.
How can we design educational environments that allow children to dialogue in a critical way about contents in the media? Can we also make their families participate? These questions guided the design of a extra-curricular workshop conducted at the school CEIP de Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) where boys and girls together with some of their family members wrote texts for their publishing in a web page which resulted in a digital school newspaper that they titled ‘La Huella’.
Within this context, all of them together approached information offered by the Internet, not just as recipients but also as publishers of their articles through this same medium. Collaborations are very varied with regards to the people that participate as well as to the contexts of the work. The most interesting fact, perhaps, is that children are not the only ones that learn, adults also benefit from the experience.
One of the problems we faced was to manage to make an attractive proposal for families to become interested in the project. In many cases it is not easy to bring families closer to the school, since, unfortunately, the relationship among both of them is limited to the contact they have with the corresponding teachers. To make families participant in this project, it was essential to take into account the wide differences between them and their own expectations on the school.
The presence of the new technologies at the school, used jointly by children, their families and teachers, contributes to establishing bridges between the school and the daily knowledge. In this context, the differences between a formal and non-formal education crumble down, with children placing utmost importance on assuming their identity as “journalists”, something that makes sense inside and outside of the classroom.
The use of technologies is meaningful and contextualized; since each family chose the tools they would need to write their articles (computer, scanner, books, television, photo camera, etc.). Thus, the need to use each tool arose from the activity itself and not from a previous intention of teaching them to use a specific tool.
The written language is a tool capable of easing the acquisition of skills related to literacy in new technologies, taking into account that these firmly contribute to becoming aware of "an audience".
The usually asymmetric roles assumed by children and adults in formal educational situations are altered by the presence of new technologies at the school. To build a common project it was essential for participants to share specific goals by working in a community (in this case the making of a web). Therefore, learning took place when participants assumed different roles on the basis of the requirements of the task and its implementation.
This work has been developed within the framework of a project subsidized by the DGCYT (BSO2002-4065-C02-01) titled ‘La presencia de la tecnología en la vida infantil: nuevas alfabetizaciones (The presence of technology in children’s life: new literacies)’.