Plainfield schools new parents platform covers curriculum to AI challenges

Plainfield School District 202 will buy 10,000 laptops this summer for $4.05 million to bolster the district’s Remote Learning system for next school year.

With a focus on technology, Plainfield School District 202 has launched a new online learning program for parents called The Blend.

“The idea of Parent University in an on-demand, online format came to me after COVID,” said Laura Shervino, District 202 director of digital learning and innovation. “With so many changes with technology and how our students use technology, sometimes it is really hard for parents to keep up.

“I am a parent myself, and I don’t always know what programs my own kids are using in their classrooms, as programs vary between elementary, middle and high school.”

In addition to supporting what goes on inside the school, The Blend also will focus on “how we can support parents when our students are home,” Shervino said, as part of the district’s 2023-2028 strategic plan to improve communication with families around academics.

Today, everything from textbooks to student assessments can be available online for parents – if they can access them.

Plainfield School District 202

As the fifth largest public school system in Illinois, District 202 serves almost 25,000 students from areas of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Joliet, Lockport, Naperville, Plainfield, Romeoville and unincorporated Will and Kendall counties, and it provides each student with a computer.

Shervino is part of District 202′s instructional technology coaches who are trained in technology-related issues and who in turn train other teachers.

Through feedback from previous parent/teacher conferences, she said, the district learned that parents were unsure or unable to access resources at home, which led to the creation of Parent University – The Blend.

In addition, the creation of the Parent University – The Blend supports the district’s digital learning initiative vision to provide “equal access to evolving technologies for students and staff to enrich learning experiences, build 21st century skills and promote lifelong learning.”

The program also supports the district’s blended learning initiative used by all schools to combine online and face-to-face learning spaces and experiences.

January’s video addresses Google Chrome and Google Meet, the district’s preferred platform for virtual conferences.

The video includes information on how to log in to a student’s Google Classroom account and on how to set up virtual meetings, Shervino said.

Google Meet is especially beneficial for parents whose work schedules do not permit time to attend a parent/teacher conference in person, Shervino said.

Each video is about three to five minutes, because, Shervino said, “no one wants to spend an hour” listening to an online recorded presentation.

On the first day the videos were released, almost 200 individuals had already viewed the first presentation.

New videos will be posted on the first Monday of each month through May.

For the remainder of the 2023-24 school year, the focus will be on digital learning and innovation and will include:

• January – Google Suite for Parents.

• February – Digital Citizenship-Digital Footprints.

• March – Curriculum Resources.

• April – 21st Century Skills – AI in Education?

• May – Chrome Care – How to take care of your device.

The district already is in the process of looking at future topics for Parent University – The Blend in the fall, which include some in-person training.

Parent University is not the only resource for District 202 parents.

Shervino said that many schools have individualized programs at specific schools for parents such as programming for FAFSA form assistance at the high school level.

Parents can give feedback on upcoming topics through a survey in the spring.

More information is available at