Embrace the New

From the classroom to mall, and all across the country, students are utilizing digital media as a means of connecting, communicating, creating, and learning through digital media can expand your potential with amazing advances in technology. Should your homeschool family be on board as well?

Although our kids may be ready, eager, and more than willing to learn with the help of digital media, it is a concept that induces hesitation for many parents. Technology is advancing so rapidly that we may feel left behind, uncertain, and quite wary of the detriments of “too much digital exposure.” Unfortunately, some parents just don’t understand how learning through digital media can work for their child. It should also be mentioned that we simply may not know how to utilize it at all, and so we continue to delay with its incorporation into our curriculums. Does the phrase, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks” ring a bell?It truly is a judgment call for parents to decide how much time a child should spend involved with learning through digital media. Some educations are gained entirely online – and it can be an effective way to learn. Yet the question remains, “How much time should a child spend outside exploring and playing?” Striking that balance can be hard. The “old school” in us is hard to let go.

Digital Media Is Here To Stay

This is a fact, not a fad, and if we keep our kids from learning through digital media as quickly as technology advances, we are doing them a great disservice. Digital media is increasingly common in children’s educational settings, both in homeschool settings and in traditional classrooms – becoming as familiar as pencils and notebooks were to their parents. The wisest of educators are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to engage their students through natural curiosity and creative thinking. Digital media can also allow our homeschooled students to become civic-ally active, participate in political commentary, as well as permitting them to collaborate with peers across the country or even worldwide.

Empowerment Means Freedom of Choice in Learning

So what excites your child or student? and can be explored or shared with peers in a digital format? Let’s look at some great resources for you to start with.

Peer-to-Peer Collaboration. Students can share and comment on each others’ written work. Such collaborative writing works well in the context of smaller, seminar-style courses. Students can share their essays and leave comments on a specific paragraph (e.g., Google Docs).

  •  Mixedink.com – Can turn any writing assignment into a fun social collaboration!
  •  Writer.zoho.com– Easily share your documents online, with friends on an individual basis and in groups. Collaborate on them in real time.
  •  Docs.google.com– Google Drive gives you a suite of editing tools that makes working together better—even when your teammates are cross-country.

Learn to Give an Outstanding Presentation. Would your child benefit from learning to utilize online resources to put together a nice presentation using various forms of media without the struggle involved with trying to battle old technology? Check these resources out.

  • Prezi.com – Make your presentations ZOOM with this awesome free tool. Use the prezi canvas to visualize your ideas and collaborate across time zones.
  • Animoto.com -Turn your photos, video clips, and music into stunning video masterpieces to share with everyone. Fast, free, and shockingly easy!
  • Zentation.com – Combines video and slides to create online presentations that best simulate the live experience. Easily create high-end webinars, webcasts, e-learning, training and virtual events.

Play With the Big Screen. Let your child get creative with the use of screen-casts to narrate and record short screen interactions and learn through quick walk-through software demonstrations. Some are free, and some have fees involved – depending on the level of quality.

  •  Techsmith.com – Create images and videos of what you see on your computer screen, and then share them instantly!
  •  Screenr.com– Instant screen-casts using a web-based screen recorder that you can create and share in a snap – even on an Iphone!

Live Video and Chat with Other Students. If you have a homeschool group, or wish to collaborate with other parents and homeschooled students, it’s inspiring for students who share a course, curriculum, or topic to do it live – with instant feedback.

  • Skype.com – Talk face to face with live video – for free!
  • Google.com – Chat within Gmail, iGoogle, and orkut, with a video chat plug-in.