Wednesday, October 7, 2009

E Learning ~ a new endeavor

I recently have seen a big change in my 13 year old- he is seeking more independence in his learning. He loves the computer and is a visual and auditory learner. My thought was to find something for him where he could "click and go" at times and still look to have some sort of guidance or teaching time from me.

He absolutely loves technology and typing it is a real strength for him, (since he types much better and faster than he can write we chose to allow him to now that he is older, type a most of his work), thankfully since his learning struggles center around graphomotor trouble and his CAPD. Using a computer can really play an important role in his learning. He is able to re-play things take brief notes on the notepad and work at his own pace for better understanding.
I saw his needs changing a few weeks into our new school year but often take some time to sit back and wait and see how things progress. It doesnt seem to be a "passing fancy" and he has enjoyed working more and more on the computer for his work. I have also found that since he has, his work output has been much higher and much more in-depth.
I think for us, as at home educators it is really important to remain focused on our childrens needs, not the program we bought or that we need to follow. For me, I try to remember it isnt about the program or the textbook it is about the learner and how they feel about their learning and how I can find ways to meet those needs as best I can. ~ Creating a relaxed, flexible learning environment will reap such benefits, in so many ways I cannot even list them all.
I decided to ask around and try to find something a bit different to try out just to see how far this new endeavor of online learning will take us and how it will work for him. ~
I really wasnt looking for a virtual school situation. That would not be a fit either. There are many out there but we were looking for something just a bit different.
I searched a bit and had found a wonderful resource that could be used as our supplement for him in many areas.

Internet4Classroom covers many subjects Art, Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, technology resources, special needs resources and assessment link resources and much more.
I had actually found this site way back when I first started homeschooling and forgot all about it since my boys needed a bit of one on one attention and some remediation work with their struggles with Dyslexia and CAPD.

** update: I recently created a record sheet to keep track of their activities on Internet4Classrooms. You can find the form here, (entitled Record Sheet Internet4Classrooms)

Now that things are running very smoothly I find I need to adjust things just a bit with my older homeschooler. Internet4Classrooms will help allow him to be more independent and responsible with his work and work assignments. I am planning to use this as a supplement only and it will not take the place of our initial teaching time. However, a resource like this can have many advantages to the older learner.
There is also a newsletter you can sign up for which I did just to keep me updated on any new information.
This is a great site and it has many benefits. I realize this may not meet our needs completely as time passes, (especially if I see him really enjoy e-learning) but for now this will be a perfect way to find out how he may adjust and learn with his strengths and abilities using an online teaching model.

Here is an article on the benefits of e-learning. This site also has an article about what kind of learner, e-learning would benefit. They also have an evaluation that explains what to look for in an online program that would be geared for your childs particular strengths.
Why, some might ask, would I want to change things or worry if things are going "ok". One large reason is that I cherish my boys love for learning and their interest in the world and things around them. A child who is forced to learn in a way that enables them to struggle, dislike or become frustrated with material, it no longer is learning. It is a chore it is work. In some cases learning can be work and hard work, however, if everything is not fun any longer their inner self diminishes and their creativity is killed. " I do not wish to educate them out of their capacity."
You can see Sir Ken Robinson speak about how schools kill creativity. *see below video* I do not wish to discourage their creativity in our home. We cherish our right brained learners and I encourage everyone with Right Brained Learners to cherish these children and their gifts. ~ and their creative, out of the box thinking.
I also found another article entitled " The Benefits and Drawbacks of e-learning" by Kevin Kruse.
Here are a few other free online learning sites I found helpful in my search;
E Learning - Free Courses for children globally, I liked this one for my younger learner as well.
MindSpring - a free online program for Math and Reading grades K-3.

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