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Digital Parenting Outreach and Curriculum. Leveraging technology to support parents and community organizations with an informative parenting curriculum.

Utilizing the deep penetration of cell phones across income levels, including those below poverty level, we seek to be the delivery platform for a thoughtful and leading edge parenting curriculum. Apps, texts and MOOCs (5-7 minute online courses) would be used to serve up stage- and age- appropriate content to parents and local organizations focused on parents and communities. Topics would cover early parenting basics, ideas & reminders, and accelerate the dissemination of cutting edge research. Because we believe the content would appeal to parents of all income levels, we foresee using a self-sustainable business model that would enable ongoing investment in the content, platform and local partnerships.

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The faculty, administration and parent community at Marin Horizon School (a California Independent School) is looking to develop an early childhood parenting "curriculum" distinguished both by the delivery and consumability of the content and in its coverage of some of parenting's most modern and under-researched topics.   
 
Delivery:  The content will be delivered via an App, text alerts/reminders and in the style of MOOCs where more in-depth topics are presented in 5-7 minute video courses that culminate in quizzes to foster interaction with and retention of the content.  Communities would form in virtual classrooms moderated by development experts.  We are looking to transcend content consumption to enable parents to interact and connect with the content, experts and each other in virtual classrooms.  Parents could also sign up for text messaging that delivers tips and reminders during the week on a variety of age-appropriate parenting topics (inspired by the recent Stanford study on Tips-by-Text which suggests that texting parents can boost literacy in preschoolers.)  Additional Apps could also be developed and endorsed for various parenting topics.
 
Content:  A curriculum will be developed to help parents understand the full list of topics they should be mindful of.  Expected developmental challenges for every age, similar to the contact provided in article format by websites like BabyCenter.com, would be delivered in bite-sized highly consumable formats.  Our aim however, is to do more than just 'have some content' on any given topic so we can drive traffic.  Our aim is to push the very best new thinking out to parents on topics across the board.  Ultimately, the program aspires to distinguish itself from other available sources of parenting information by bringing together the best thinking on the emerging science and research on the modern challenges.  The programs will aim to educate and offer suggestions but ultimately let parents decide where they fall on the continuum with an informed point of view. Our hope is that IDEO.org will also advance this research and we will become the delivery mechanism.   
 
Curriculum:   The program will provide a framework of a “curriculum” to ensure that parents can access the full breadth of topics and can be mindful and present in consciously forming their own parenting strategies.  Parents will be able to track the topics they have covered so that they can ensure they are exposed to everything they ought to know in order to be effective and attuned parents at every stage.
 
We envision this program could offer fantastic infrastructure to local, grass roots parent support efforts, particularly in the lowest income areas where internet and cell phones don’t reach every parent.  That said, internet and cell phone penetration is surprisingly high (>50%) in low income households under $15K in annual income, so this program could conceivably directly reach 50% of the people living below the poverty level.  We believe this offering could be relevant at all levels of income and therefore, it has the rare ability to be ultimately self-sustaining as higher income parents could ‘sponsor’ outreach to low income targets. 

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Anyone with a text-enabled cell phone would benefit worldwide. Grassroots organizations working in "off the grid" communities could leverage the program as a backbone for their local work.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

The recent Stanford Study Tips-by-Text demonstrated that the mechanism works. We would conduct focus groups to understand if and how parents would use the information and what kinds of information they would like.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

Expert advice, academic research, etc. to build the curriculum. Funding for technical resources to design and build the App. Funding for production resources to design and build the content and MOOCs. Ongoing access to emerging research on modern parenting topics.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.

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Hi Margret, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Update Entry button on the right of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. We know occasionally people have issues uploading images so let us know by hitting the Feedback button at the bottom of most pages of our site if you face any problems. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.