PPS’ first Parent Engagement Program Academy program, “There’s an App for That!,”was a huge success. Held at Eastern Elementary, parents and students got an overview of new technologies being used in the schools and a chance to participate in hands-on computer and robotics activities.

Lauren Boucher, an instructional technology specialist for Pitt County Schools, brought parents up to date on school technology and the changing digital environment. She noted that 41 percent of third graders now have smart phones, and that students are “digital natives”, having never know a world without computers and smart phones. Many parents, by contrast, are “digital immigrants,” and may be less comfortable with technology. Boucher warned parents about the possible misuses of geotags, which some apps use to locate when and where users are uploading pictures or writing posts, and urged parents to make sure their child has turned the geotag feature off on their devices.

Parents and students rotated through interactive stations where they could test out new forms of technology. Students controlled rolling robotic balls called SPHEROs via an app on their smartphones at one station. At another, participants sketched animals and created new shapes on paper using guided templates from an iPad. Another station let students try their hand at coding.

The presentation was the first of monthly Parent Engagement Program Academy programs. The next Parent Engagement Program Academy event will be held at Pitt Community College on Oct. 24, designed to introduce Pitt County families to Pitt Community College and the many programs offered there, including Early College High School, continuing education, ECU transfer programs and more. Register here.