About Virtual Courses

Are you new to the world of virtual (online) classes? If so, please do not fret! It is easy and it will change the way you homeschool! You won’t worry about driving around spending hours upon hours in the car, waiting for classes to begin, dragging kids home, taking lunch to go or even worse, going through a fast food drive through (gasp!)

Seriously, kids are beyond adaptable and LOVE learning virtually! It’s no longer the wave of the future, but the new normal! Many states are now requiring all students to take at least one online class to qualify for an advanced or even standard diploma (examples: Virginia, Florida). Many colleges have now taken their “basic” 101 type classes and students tune in online from their dorm room. Finally, some college have complete online programs. Education as we knew it is changing – and fast!

The flexibility of online education allows the parents and students to take classes from the best instructors IN THE WORLD! Yes, it no longer matters where you live.

There are two types of virtual classes: synchronous and asynchronous.

The word synchronous means working together at the same time, and in the online learning world, chat rooms and online conferences are good examples of synchronous communication. In a chat room, people’s comments to each other are relayed immediately, enabling a real-time discourse. Similarly, online conferencing with the benefit of voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) tools enable real-time conversations to take place online. Learning from synchronous communication is enhanced because real-time conversations allow people to explore, through writing or talking, the class concepts. The act of verbalizing helps students build bridges between different ideas and concepts, thus helping them retain information more effectively.

Asynchronous communication is the relay of information with a time lag. Discussion forums and email are two examples of how asynchronous communication is employed in online learning. It is very helpful to communicate in this way, because students have plenty of time to formulate thoughts. By communicating via email, students are able to respond in detail to a question or topic that they might have answered incompletely in a real-time conversation. This time lag in communication helps students internalize information by giving them time to research certain ideas or merely extra time for contemplation. The main disadvantage to asynchronous communication is time lost waiting for a response.

Open Tent Academy follows the synchronous method.

Simply put, all students register for the courses they want.  The instructors meets with them as well as the other students during their set class time.  Discussions happen.  Interaction occurs.  Information is provided.  Homework is explained. It is basically just like a classroom. Students can see the Power Point presentation (visual), see the teacher (visual) and hear the teacher (auditory).  How students interact back is truly up to the teacher and the class.  Most classes will have the students interacting back via a chat log. Yes, teachers CAN turn on the microphone to hear the student. For example, in any foreign language class ,the teachers WILL have the microphones turned on because the teacher MUST hear the pronunciation of the individual students.  With that said, for your student to be successful in virtual learning, they should have basic keyboarding (typing) skills.

In addition to the virtual classroom, Open Tent Academy will have a Learning Management System (LMS) called CANVAS.  This online environment will be accessible to both students and parents through an ID and PASSWORD that Open Tent Academy will provide you with in mid-August.

The LMS will have all the classes each student is taking. The student will click on the class  they are taking and they enter the world of this class. The link for the virtual classroom will be there.  They click on it and are transported to the classes (on the correct day and time) where their teacher will be ready and waiting.  In addition, all the documents needed for class, along with any assigned homework, PDFs that need to be read, videos that need to be watched, and audio clips that need to be listed to, will be organized by the Lesson Number (Module 1, Module 2, Module 3 and so on).  Students will have EVERYTHING they need at the touch of a button.  No more waiting for teachers to return emails or return calls.  Everything is released in a time sequence order. On top of that, the students will have an “assignment reminder” to do list on their front page with ALL assignments from ANY classes they are taking in order of due date.  Think of it as a “fancy dancy” homework agenda book that we used to carry around as students. Pretty cool – huh? Finally, all students turn in their assignments on the LMS – either by using the built in word processor (yes, they can work right online in the LMS), MS Word on their own computer, OR Google Docs on the cloud.  When they are ready to turn in an assignment, they click “turn in to teacher” and voila! – the teacher receives notification that “Johnny” turned in his assignment.  Once the teacher has evaluated/graded the work online, they submit it back to “Johnny”. Once this happens, “Johnny” will receive an announcement in his email box. The teacher can leave comments within his work, an audio message or a video message for “Johnny” to see.

Remember all classes are presented LIVE in our VIRTUAL environment, but they are also RECORDED for later viewing. Following the original class day and time, you will have access to the recording to watch. Again, there will be a link in the LMS for your child to follow.

Finally, teachers can give online quizzes and tests through the LMS where the student receives immediate feedback. Students can also retest to improve their score!  It isn’t about a grade – it is about mastering material!

Oh – socialization.  We have that covered, too!   Students will be able to interact with projects in “wiki groups” within the LMS.  Yes, they will meet together, work on projects, study together, work on homework together; whatever you (and they) want. In addition, teachers will open the classroom 15 minutes prior to the start of class for a “gathering” period where students are welcomed to come in and visit with one another.  At the end of the class, teachers often provide students with an additional few minutes to hang out with one another.  Yes, cool!

If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. We are not going to leave you hanging. Every parent and student will get directions on how to navigate the system. Kids are so adaptable and will love the system.

Most importantly: Open Tent Academy will be here to help you!  We CARE about your children and their education!

Everything in one place.  24/7.  Student access.  Parent access.  Teacher access.
Be prepared to be AMAZED.

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