It is estimated that over 5 million of the country’s 54 million K–12 students are learning virtually. That is 10%. Ten percent. When we were kids in school, would we have ever thought that this type of learning would become mainstream?
But wait… “Virtually.” What does that mean?
Virtual education can mean LIVE classes, such as Open Tent Academy offers (and at OTA we do record our LIVE sessions in case your child misses them), in the comfort of your own home. This is known as synchronous learning. This is in a virtual classroom, which allows students to ask questions that the teacher answers instantly. Rather than taking lessons alone, students associating themselves with synchronous classes can easily interact with fellow students and their teachers during the class.
Below you will find some of Open Tent Academy’s favorite reasons for virtual education.
One of the greatest benefits of live online courses is the availability of a real-life, real-time subject matter expert. Since homeschooling parents rarely categorize themselves experts in all things, it is an advantage to have an expert in the field presenting new information, facilitating the group, working with students and providing homework and projects.
Teach Effectively to Different Learning Styles
Each child has a primary learning style in which they most effectively process information. That is why some kids love watching videos and others prefer a more tactile approach such as building a machine or completing a puzzle. There are three main types of learning styles: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic/Tactile. Some children have a primary style while others are a combination. With online learning, your child will be taught using all three methods. There is ALWAYS a visual component and an auditory component; however, at OTA we incorporate a Kinesthetic/Tactile component through our assignments and projects.
Benefits Child Development
The developmental benefits are many! Virtual classes increase memory capacity, computer/technology fluency, strategic thinking and problem solving, hand-eye coordination and skill building from an online educator.
Integration of Real World Skills
Far beyond just word processing, students are expected to use a rainbow of “real world skills” within their online classes. Teachers help students with these skills as part of the online experience. Presentations, projects and work within the virtual classroom help students to mesh technology and their creativity while simultaneously learning the class’s material. These same skills are often necessary in today’s work environment as it is expected that adults work in a collaborative, virtual environment.
Immersion in the Subject Matter
With flexible homeschooling, students immerse themselves in a collaborative, interactive environment. At OTA, using Jigsaw Virtual Classrooms, teachers and students use videos, whiteboards, images, group note boards, chats, powerpoint presentations, audio and more! With these classroom tools, students can engage with their peers from around the world without ever leaving home.
Peace of Mind
Live online courses provide parents with feedback about what a child can and cannot do independently by with the added benefit of having a teacher available to assist in establishing a path to greater success for the students as they tackle new tasks, lessons and courses. In other words, the virtual classroom is just as much a homeschool parent’s resource as it is a child’s tool. These teachers are there to advocate for the success of the homeschooling parent and child.
With Open Tent Academy, depending on your age and subject matter, your child’s class will go from 75 minutes – 90 minutes. We offer Elementary, Middle and High School Classes. You can choose from traditional classes from the core curriculum or “out-of-the-box” fun electives. In addition, we offer multidisciplinary units that touch upon all subject areas. Parents can easily see their child’s grades through CANVAS, our LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, which you can access 24/7.
Powerful Interactive Tools
Teachers have access and freedom to use any/all of the wonderful features of the virtual classroom.
- An interactive whiteboard that allows both students and teachers to enter content, label diagrams, use graphic organizers, color documents or images inserted by the teacher.
- Live, real-time chat to entice further conversations and questions within the virtual classrooms.
- Student surveys and breakout rooms, which provide teacher-supervised areas for discussing questions and sharing ideas.
- Digital Media such as video clips, audio clips and slide presentations.
- Downloadable documents directly from the virtual classroom while instruction is in progress.
- Group Notes section in the virtual classroom where students can take their notes and convert to a downloadable PDF document during class.
- Live-streaming via webcam so teachers can teacher and students can share projects in a creative, engaging environment.
Once a student transitions out of the homeschooling learning environment into college, trade school or a career, it is essential that students understand what it means to be accountable for their success. Live online courses provide a natural environment for students to acquire greater self-discipline, responsibility and self-advocacy.
We welcome YOU to come try out Open Tent Academy. We offer a-la carte classes! Take one course. Take a full schedule. The choice is yours. If you would like to observe any classes, please ask! We’d love for you to stop in and visit us!
Eva Goldstein-Meola, is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium. In addition to teaching, Eva enjoys cooking, baking, playing Settlers of Catan, traveling with her husband Jonathan, Broadway Musicals and reading. Eva teaches a variety of literature and IEW writing courses for Open Tent Academy.
Some other articles by Eva: