The time is right and the technological infrastructure is in place to be able to provide a true class room experience directly to the home. As the homeschooling environment is a vibrant and growing alternative to the traditional classroom setting there exists an opportunity for a web based program providing a true classroom experience. A true classroom experience can provide an excellent teaching environment while preserving the educational integrity desired by parents who home school their children. There are many websites offering guidance and resources for the homeschooler. Most offer teaching aids with interactive searches.
The student interacts with the programs by clicking on a subject and navigates the website (edhelper. com). Others are more dynamic with video and audio programs covering many subjects (school. discoveryeducation. com). Then there are those which offer a variety of tutors that work with students through the internet (tutor. com). However these are all single dimension study environments. What is missing is a true classroom experience. A learning environment where students can participate in a classroom, look into each others eyes and share that wonderful moment of idea exchange.
A U. S. Department of Education report (2007) shows that homeschooling has doubled in the last ten years (nces. ed. gov). One of the major reasons cited for the increase in homeschooling was the parental disappointment with the school environment in general. Parents are not particularly averse to classroom teaching but the general surroundings and the riff raft associated with school yard play. There are, however, developmental advantages to the classroom experience that cannot be duplicated in the home within a one person classroom.
Donna Walker Tileston, in her book, Ten Best Teaching Practices, points out that “…collaborative learning is an integral part of the classroom. ” In her book she cites a US Department of Labor study that places “collaborative skills right up there with math and science. ” The study shows, she said that “…students should be provided numerous opportunities to work together to practice the learning, to develop concepts, to discuss, ideas, and to produce quality products” (2005). There are no interactive classroom websites currently in operation providing a true classroom experience.
The current online school programs are parallels to social networking websites. Students make comments, submit their work and leave. No real student interaction takes place. The energy and dynamic of argument and exchange does not filter through on the page of these programs. An interesting statistic shows that although student enrollment in the traditional schools is declining in some sectors, homeschooling is increasing. Homeschooling increased 3. 5% from 2007 to 2008 (homeschooling. gomilpitas. com). It would seem that homeschooling is finding a place in our society.
It follows then that a homeschooling program that includes a true interactive classroom experience can be an alternative to the static cartoon presentation currently offered to the dedicated homeschooler. The capability to deliver an interactive classroom experience to the home is here today. All the individual components to deliver high speed data between the school and the home are in place. Schools have been wired with high speed data cabling for over ten years. Technology backrooms in the schools already interface with the World Wide Web.
Nearly every home in the US has the capability to be connected to the web. Camera ready computers have been sold in stores for years and add-on cameras sell by the millions. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is offered by service providers routinely as one of their regular products. Video and audio over the internet is available today. The market is ready technologically and homeschooling is taking its place in society. Items to be finalized prior to launching this website include technical and contractual rights.
Additional study is required to determine what courses should be selected in order to place cameras in the classroom. A website would need to be built, hosting agreements, and the establishment of the buying process. Institutional rights of way would need to be established. Contracts need to be drafted for residual sharing between institutions and the website. A further benefit may be gained by looking into a partnership with an educational institution or the possibility of filing for a 501(c) non profit status corporation (501(c)).
The availability of a true classroom experience providing the homeschooler absolute control of the student environment will be embraced by the students and their parents. The technological infrastructure is in place leaving only the logistical requirements left to be worked out. This program will provide the host school with an additional source of revenue and an increased reputation as being a host school. This service is a win for the educational institution, the homeschooler and the website as the infomediary, will benefit from this service.
References 01(c) is a provision of the United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U. S. C. § 501(c)), listing 26 types of non-profit organizations exempt from some federal income taxes. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/501(c) Discovery Education (2009). Retrieved from http://school. discoveryeducation. com edHelper. com is dedicated to providing teachers a single shop for educational resources. (2009) Retrieved from http://www. edhelper. com Numbers of Homeschoolers in USA. A TO Z HOME’S COOL HOMESCHOOLING Retrieved from http://homeschooling. omilpitas. com/weblinks/numbers. htm Participation in Education (2007). – Retrieved from http://www. nces. ed. gov/programs/coe/2009/section1/indicator06. asp Tileston, D. W. (March, 2005) Ten Best Teaching Practices: How Brain Research, Learning Styles, and Standards Define Teaching Competencies, (2nd ed. ). Corwin Press Inc. , Thousand Oaks, CA Thousands of tutors helping students with everything from homework and projects to studying and test preparation. Retrieved from http://www. tutor. com