I think this weeks Blog Cruise question is a good one. The question is:
Do you use technology (iPods, Computers, Videos, Digi. Cams,etc.) in your homeschool?
I honestly can barely imagine running our homeschool without technology. Especially as I am teaching high school age children, we are very open to incorporating technology.
Right up front, I will address the fact that I do believe too much technology can adversely effect your homeschool. Obviously, it is not great for kids to be sitting in front of a computer all day long. I have found it is important to establish some type of schedule for using some of our technology–and the schedules are not just for the kids! They make me get up and go for that nature walk. And I don’t want to hear whining if it’s time to get off the computer learning games…so it has saved my sanity, to have a plan and set timers.
That being said, I do think computers, ipods, digital cameras…items like ebook readers…all of these things can be wonderful teaching aids. I do think that having a college student and teenagers pushes me to be aware of the technology that exists. It seems like every week, I am hearing about new items and/or programs that exist in the world of technology. I woke up to a new operating system on one of our computers the other day…Ubuntu. Apparently, it would make that computer go faster. I am proud of my tech savvy kids. Need a program installed? Need things rewired or the new router installed…who am I gonna call…? My kids. They are amazing critical thinkers when it comes to hooking up tech gear.
So, let’s get down to exactly what tech stuff we use around here..
We have a couple of laptops and itouches that are networked. The kids also have the xbox and tv setup so they can watch netflix on there. I added another free app the other night so I can watch Netflix on my itouch. Pretty neat. I have a digital camera and I let the kids use that on field trips… we also use the itouch as an ereader. We also use podcasts and audiobooks… dvds and videos to reinforce different subjects we are studying.
Now, how do we use that stuff…
We use the internet in so many ways. Our world is amazing and I love being connected to learning communities…downloading ebooks and maps…teaching ideas on really short notice…whole downloadable unit studies–just with the click of these buttons!
We use many internet sites that have teaching programs–both free and subscription based. I have listed some that are great for little kids on my “Fun” page, which you can access by the tab at the top of this page. My five year old especially likes the Starfall page and Mathletics. But there are so many useful things out there for her age.
My older son takes several classes online. Currently he is using the math program ALEKS (you can see my old review for ALEKS) and he is also taking a Potters School Science Class (Apologia Biology) I like the Potters School because they have a safe community for kids to interact. While using the Potters School setup, my son also uses video and speech software to interact with the class. If you take a look at my “Homeschool Helps” page, you will see many of the items are computer based or have some type of tech “connection.”
We like to find stuff on Netflix that goes with our studies–they have a lot of educational movies on there!
One issue I have with having the older children using the tech a lot is that, while I do trust my children…I understand that they are not perfect and they may be doing something they should not (like messing around on email and facebook) when they are supposed to be working. I want to teach them freedom…but also responsibility. So how does Mom not hover over the laptops while they are working?
I have NOT had much luck with using computer protection systems–I find that while I am trying to block some things I consider evil or whatever, I will end up with many of the sites I NEED blocked. This has been an ongoing frustration for me. Just recently I got a TOS review product to check out called Lanschool. So far I am loving this! I will tell more when I really know how to use it, but so far this program allows me to monitor my kids while they are working and lets us send popup messages back and forth. While the kids are not thrilled I can choose to see what they’re doing, they know we are doing this and so they can take the laptops, etc and go off to another room…just whatever. They actually have a lot more freedom within this structure.
Really, I know I’m just scratching the surface here. There are so many ways to use technology in homeschools. I would love to hear from others, too.
Do you have some favorite ways you incorporate technology into your homeschool? Favorite learning sites? Please tell!
And do go by the Blog Cruise and see what other people have to say on this topic.