As technology continues its march towards dominion over our feeble society, socially minded innovators are looking for ways to take the resources available to tech consumers and make them available and beneficial to those who need it the most: our youth
Technology in the classroom is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that is constantly changing and being adopted – in various capacities – by schools that have a means to incorporate innovative learning methods into their budgets.
Perhaps the argument for technology as a means of learning is a moot one – it certainly seems to be the way of the future – however, not every school can offer a tech-based future education to their student bodies and many parents are choosing to home-school their children.
These parents can’t apply for grants that would help them buy touchscreen whiteboards, tablet computers and other popular, in-demand teaching equipment, but there are certainly tools that will help parents turn their homes into classrooms.
Here are a few applications and technological resources that can aide parent-teachers in educating their kids at home.
Though parents may not be able to apply for grants to purchase technology, museums of all types offer an educational experience, and usually a way to teach variegated subjects to people of all ages. Museums are public educational institutions and placing museum visits in the context of family vacations helps illustrate lessons in ways you couldn’t possibly manage, unless you can install a wind tunnel in your backyard that will demonstrate how tornadoes work.
Podcast lessons are available in a wide range of topics for many age groups. iTunes is a popular hub for podcast media, though they can be found all over the Internet. iTunes enables users to search for podcasts by subject and genre. Podcasts come in many flavors including audio and video formats and can be helpful in introducing topics to kids, providing perspective and initiating conversation.
Additionally, library websites often offer a digital collection of audiobooks that can be downloaded to portable media devices for no more than the price of a library card.
Netflix offers literally thousands of films through its mail-order DVD service, and hundreds of these are available for instant streaming a moment’s notice. Perspective on historical topics can be deepened by choosing salient excerpts from appropriate films or screening all or part of a documentary on the subject. Using film to educate helps keep kids engaged, but the entertainment value should not overshadow the educational value. As with any other films, make sure to pre-screen them to make sure no unwelcome surprises reveal themselves during lessons.
Squidoo is a website that allows users a free space on the Internet to do whatever they’d like. This format lends itself nicely to the construction of webpages by students about any subject. Their Squidoo page essentially serves as an online poster board presentation, giving children the opportunity to showcase their knowledge on Egyptian pyramids, cuneiform writing, urban planning and whatever other subjects their lessons focus on.
Geography comes alive with Google Maps, a web application that brings satellite imagery and a literally global perspective to homes through the Internet.
Skype is a popular Internet chat platform and can be used to bridge gaps in geography and lifestyle, bringing kids into face-to-face contact with people from all over the world. For parents interested in teaching their children languages, Skype give them the opportunity to practice with native speakers for free. Anyone polyglot can tell you that learning form a book is simply not the same as actually talking to someone and for languages kids might not have access to in their cities or neighborhoods, Skype is there to transcend the walls of the home and also borders.
The many resources online which link up the home to the classroom are endless. One can literally bring a teacher into the home via video conferencing (Skype) or utilize the many apps and other tools to supplement an ongoing education. Despite what certain educators think about home-school, the same technological advances which have aided public and private schools are becoming more and more available to those who chose an alternative.
Joseph Baker’s business experience in management and technology spans more than 15 years. A leader of development and management teams, he also implemented budget reductions professionally and as an independent contractor. Joseph led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses. He is an advocate for educational reform and a proponent of social media integration.
Check out Joseph’s recent article ‘The 10 Best and Worst Ways Social Media Impacts Education‘
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management. Would you like to write for Edudemic?