Digital media for family-school communication? Parents' and teachers' beliefs
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The use of digital media for parent-teacher communication is increasing. However, many parents and teachers are still reluctant to use such media to enhance two-way pedagogical communication between parents and teachers. This paper explores the parents' and teachers' beliefs regarding the use of e-mails and online platforms for two-way communication. We first developed a theoretical model as an adaptation of the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behaviour tailored specifically to address technological acceptance in parent-teacher interactions, which shows the most important beliefs that support or constrain the use of digital media for family-school communication. Then we compared the participants' views (parents and/or teachers from ICT schools and non-ICT schools) on using e-mails and online platforms in order to provide a more context-based understanding of the beliefs influencing the use of digital media for parent-teacher pedagogical communication. The data were obtained from interviews with 30 families and 35 teachers from 11 different schools in Spain. The findings revealed that parents and teachers hold a set of beliefs about the use of digital media: beliefs about the medium (based on the characteristics of e-mails and online platforms) and beliefs about the context (based on their perceptions of the setting and of themselves), with the latter being the most important barriers to the use of digital media, particularly for teachers. The findings also showed that parents and teachers display more positive stances on the use of digital media in schools where the management team promotes the use of e-mails or online platforms for family-school communication. A major implication of these findings is that management teams should take the first step to introducing digital media to communicate with families. These findings are also important for researchers as they provide a framework to guide further studies, and give an insight into a field in which the literature is scarce.