For many adults, it’s not difficult for us to remember a time in our lives when technology seemed much less important. Whenever I can’t find a place I’m looking for and I pull out my smartphone to help me out, I think, How did I ever manage to find anything when I was a teenager?
And the internet? Most of us can still remember the era of flipping through musty reference books to find answers. Even after the internet became available, it’s easy to recall being kicked off of our connection because someone else in the house picked up the phone. The fact is, it still seems so new to many of us.
As new as technology is to us, that’s how normal it is to our children, students, and other young people in our lives. They’ve grown up using these new gadgets, and we’ve all seen the intuitiveness of a toddler who is handed a smartphone. The little guy or girl simply takes the once-foreign object in his or her hands and just figures it out.
For these reasons, online education is becoming more and more popular for today’s students. Whether it’s in the classroom or at home, most students entering school this year will use some kind of online learning.
Because of our shared “stone-age” experience, it’s easy to be skeptical. As a former middle school and high school Reading and Language Arts teacher, I’ll be the first to tell you that online education cannot replace a good teacher, a caring parent, or a devoted tutor.
However, online education needs to be embraced, not resisted. One of the most popular models this school year is what’s called “blended” learning. In this model, students will be getting some of their instruction and practice in front of a computer, and then the learning will continue with a teacher leading the charge.
This type of practice needs to be continued at home. After your child completes a lesson on the computer, ask him or her what was the “coolest” thing they learned during the lesson. Which of the characters did they like best, and why? The more you show that you believe in the power of online learning, the more likely your child will be excited about their education.
If you have time, try watching a few of your child’s lessons before they take them. Think of a few discussion questions you think they might be interested in, and ask them a few hours later after they’ve taken the lesson. As a teacher, the most powerful thing I witnessed was when a topic I taught about inspired a conversation that continued beyond the walls of the classroom. Great online education should do this too—learning should continue after the monitor is switched off.
Please don’t think of me as an alien from Star Trek saying, “Resistance is futile.” It’s easy for us adults to push back a little against online education because, well, it’s not normal for us. In fact, a little resistance can be healthy, because it can help you ask the questions that will help your child succeed. What do you want your child to get out of online education? How can you enhance your child’s online education? What are the limits of online education, and what can it do that traditional education can’t?
Think about these questions, but most importantly, Think Online Education.
Afterschool Activities and Free Resources from SmartTutor
Article By Jonathon Kus
Photo By sean dreilinger