Online Homeschooling

Online Homeschooling can refer to two different types of homeschooling, both having reference to using the Internet with homeschooling.  This article covers information on online homeschooling through streaming video, software applications, interactive classes, or a combination of these.

Types of Online Homeschooling

One of the most important distinctions in the types of online homeschooling that are available is whether it is synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous interactions take place at the same time. They are like phone calls and in-person conversations and classrooms. Asynchronous interactions take place when one party leaves a message for the other party, who can respond at his or her convenience. Most online homeschooling experiences are asynchronous. This gives the homeschoolers freedom, because they do not have to adhere to a schedule, but it also reduces opportunities for interaction.

Another key aspect of online homeschooling is who is offering it. Various online homeschooling providers include colleges and universities, as well as providers of homeschooling materials, such as Calvert.

Online Homeschooling Through Streaming Video

Though it may not seem clear at first, there are some important distinctions between online homeschooling that is streaming video and online homeschooling that consists of that same video on a DVD. On the one hand, the DVD can be used without an Internet connection, possibly making its use more flexible. If the DVD cracks or has a problem, however, the entire course is rendered unavailable. On the other hand, the streaming video can be updated easily and on the spot, if an error or infelicity is discovered. However, during a power outage or if the sending or receiving ISP (Internet service provider) has an issue, it is  impossible to access.

Streaming video may be made in a studio or it may be recorded as the teacher teaches in a classroom. It may be augmented by a teacher (as well as a parent) looking at and commenting on student work. 

Online Homeschooling Through Software Applications

Another asynchronous form of online homeschooling is similar to having a textbook or worksheets (with or without learning games) online. There is no teacher: the student reads through the instructional material and does exercises, plays games, or answers questions to reinforce and demonstrate learning.
Online Homeschooling Though Interactive Classes

While requiring more attention to scheduling, synchronous online courses offer opportunities for interaction that are not available in asynchronous streaming. For example, a student can ask the teacher a question, or work in a group with peers. Each student gets to hear the questions others ask and hear the answers. This expands the opportunities for learning. 

This type of interactive learning can take place through web conferencing software, instant messaging, videochatting, and/or audiochatting. Web conferencing software allows all these forms of interaction—visual, audible, and messaging, as well as document sharing—to happen. The leader (in this case, likely the teacher), can have an open microphone, or pass control when s/he decides it is appropriate.

Combinations of Methods for Online Homeschooling

It is also possible for an online schooling program to include multiple types of online experience—even all of the types mentioned in this article. Parents may find that different subject areas work well with different treatments.

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