A year after its launch, the New York City Department of Education’s online platform”Parent University” now offers more than 600 courses on topics like reading strategies for students with disabilities, Google Classroom, and how to navigate the city’s special education process.
Last year, the department created the platform to help families learn how to better handle the world of remote learning after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the city’s over one million public school students to shift to online learning.
Since then the number of courses available on the platform has grown six-fold and has served over 1450,000 users and reached 401,000 page views, according to a DOE spokesperson. When the site first went live on November 25 last year, public school parents and family members only had the option to access 100 pre-recorded classes in multiple languages on technology and early childhood education in the portal and receive DOE updates on changes to school policy.
The platform’s use as a vessel for relaying information on schoolwide news has carried over into this school year as well. This fall, parents and guardians have been able to access information about the COVID-19 vaccine via bi-weekly webinars with local health experts on “Parent University.”
DOE officials have been adding 10 classes to the website every week since its creation in 2020 and hope to continue to be able to expand the platform’s course offerings for the indefinite future, Deputy Chancellor of Community Empowerment, Partnerships, and Communications, Adrienne Austin told amNewYork Metro.
“We hope because it’s a launch here, and it’s a really new sort of DOE asset, that there’s really a lot of attention and continued awareness-raising around the platform,” said Austin. “My hope is that it continues but really sees some investment so that it can really expand.”
Besides offering families lessons and workshops to better understand what children are going through in the classroom, the site also allows parents to learn more about school leadership positions and makes it easier for those parents already involved in leadership organizations like community education council districts to receive training which they are obligated to do throughout the year.
“What used to happen is that it was only offered once on a Monday night and some people could never make it and so you never really got a full group of people in the room. They would receive PDFs later of what the workshop was like or the training but of course, that’s really doesn’t give you a full sense of participation,” said Camille Casaretti, president of Brooklyn’s CEC 15.
“What’s happened now is that the DOE will offer a training teleconference and people you know, people who can attend will attend but for the people who cannot attend, they can actually rewatch the video and have the paperwork in their hand, same time,” she added. “So it’s a much stronger source of support, and people can watch those videos in their own time.”
To create a “Parent University” account, parents or guardians can visit the DOE website.