Built-In Tools In EdTech Solutions For Streamlined Translation
The root of many challenges in school settings? Communication. It’s impossible to over-communicate, whether students are young (and prone to breakdowns in communication) or older (and prone to avoidance in communication). Historically, connecting schools and families has presented a host of challenges. The good news? Language barriers no longer have to be one of them. Let’s explore translation services in EdTech solutions.
Parent And Family Engagement And The Role Of Language
Family engagement is important to student success, and yet only 20% of parents report  being actively engaged with their students’ schools. Most communication professionals are dedicated to engaging more families with school activities more often. To that end, translation services built into your student information system (SIS) can bridge communication gaps for students whose families speak a language other than English at home. According to U.S. Census Bureau stats from 2021, up to 30% of students in the Western United States spoke a language other than English at home.
Built-In Translation In EdTech Tools Is Authentic And Mindful
Well-meaning educators may have already created some processes to translate communication into other languages, which is phenomenal leadership. However, if translation services are built into messaging software, the result transcends a manual translation for a couple of reasons:
- The service is available in multiple languages.
- The translation is more conversational with fewer errors.
How to make it happen:
- Use the tools you already rely on.
- Use common browsers for easier access.
- Choose solutions with built-in translation.
Beyond built-in translation via web browser, there are other clues an EdTech interface is built with multilingual users in mind. Look for a large, skimmable font with minimal text effects (think underline, bold, and italics). Longer messages should be broken into chunks instead of bulky paragraphs, which helps users read and skim more deliberately. Detailed buttons and calls-to-action ease phrases lost in translation. For example, it’s easier to understand “submit a request” or “read the newsletter” instead of a more generic “click here.” Add a note to remind users to read over forms before they are submitted—all these instructions add up to a better User Experience no matter what language the user chooses.
Educators are dedicated to reaching all their students regardless of ability. It’s the same spirit with EdTech and accessibility. The decision-makers in your district must adopt the mindset that their choices are powerful and should provide equal access for all types of users. Whether they are users with a complete or tenuous grasp of English and technology, an EdTech solution must contain the tools needed to scaffold users of all abilities. This is called universal design.
The more universal design clues your EdTech vendor follows, the better. Education technology companies have various tools, tests, and services designed to help them maximize the accessibility of their products. There’s really no excuse for ignoring best practices and potentially rendering the solution unusable by certain users. In the event that a user in the district does discover a screen or module that is less than ideal for their needs, consider how easy or difficult the vendor makes the process of requesting assistance. Are they receptive and grateful for the opportunity to improve, or is accessibility treated like an annoyance?
Leave behind the language barrier and get all families involved. Neighbors helping neighbors can start at school by providing a certain level of comfort with communication. When families feel that sense of belonging, they feel comfortable taking part in outreach events and family fun at school.
Beyond connection, closing the language gap brings multilingual families into a higher level of parental engagement: sharing their opinions and priorities about the direction the district should grow toward. Better school-home partnerships not only help students achieve more; they also help district leaders know what families need.
 Parent Engagement: Beyond the Homework Helper