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Online Education: No Longer Part of the Future… but Here, Today

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If there is one thing America is known for, it is options.  Whether it is cereal brands, toothpaste brands, different car companies and even banking options… the vast array of choices can often be overwhelming.   Now, education has become the same way.

Homeschooling.  Private School.  Public School.

Unschooling.  Online homeschooling…. wait online homeschooling…yes, that is part of NOW.

Online education is no longer the future…. it is here.  Unlike a decade ago, online colleges and universities have quality programs that are not only respected by potential employers but top companies around the world are having their employees do advanced degrees through online learning/distance education.  

According to the “Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States,” an annual report by the Babson Survey Research Group, in 2014, over 5.8 million undergraduate students were enrolled in at least one online class.   Because of the way college education is changing, it is up to us, homeschooling parents, to also change the way we educate our children so that when they get to college they are able to excel.

Open Tent Academy (OTA) is an all-inclusive, online consortium where homeschoolers (and “after schoolers”), grades 3 – 12, can take a variety of interactive classes in traditional or out of the box subjects.  With this said, there are numerous benefits to having your elementary, middle school and high school student participate in online classes now. Several of these are highlighted below:

1. Learning New Technology

Uploading homework assignments. Take online assessments. Logging in. These are just a few of the skills necessary to success in a virtual environment. These terms might give some parents a headache; however, once the child goes through the process, they know exactly what to do. Becoming proficient in using these various technologies will prepare students for college/university work where taking online classes is often required.

At Open Tent Academy, we are using two amazing systems for our online classes:  Canvas and Jigsaw.  

Canvas is our Learning Management System, or LMS.    This allows the student to obtain EVERYTHING they need for a class 24/7 with a click of the button. It is like “one-stop shopping”.  Everything is organized, neatly in one place.  

Jigsaw is where our live and interactive classes are held.  Within Jigsaw, teachers hold classes using all sorts of amazing technology: webcams, microphones, chat logs, wipe off boards, PowerPoints, video clips, audio clips etc. The range of what can be done is amazing. Students interact with one another.  Students speak to one another.  Students share projects/papers etc with one another.  

2. Flexibility

This is something that not everyone is born with.  Sometimes, it is a skill that we have to develop within ourselves.  Online classes help with this.

Online classes can be synchronous or asynchronous.  Synchronous classes are live.  This is what Open Tent Academy offers. Before I go on, I do want to say that at OTA we also record all of our live classes allowing OTA students, who miss class, the opportunity to watch the recording, putting into play the asynchronous features.

In addition, OTA offers the asynchronous aspect using our Learning Management System, Canvas.  Asynchronous courses allow for students to complete their work on their own time outside of class.  Our teachers have both the class recording and all class notes within Canvas, as well as the student’s homework.  Students have one week between their classes to go onto Canvas and work through their assignments and turn them in. We do not use our “class time” to complete assignments. This is done asynchronously.

Using both synchronous and asynchronous features of our programs gives students the greatest flexibility allowing them to participate in other opportunities that might arise and will allow you to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Being flexible is the key to successful online education.  

3. Deadlines

This is the one aspect that homeschooling families hate to admit we do not do well.  It is simply too easy to ignore deadlines.  We push them back. We alter them.  We avoid them.  In a world where everything is posted online with concrete deadlines, students know well in advance, in writing when their work is due.   Although the students might not like this, it will certainly help them in the future.   In college, professors are notorious about deadlines.  They are in stone.  Having the practice of concrete deadlines will help your child.  

Please understand, at OTA, all teachers are understanding if true emergencies come up (G-d forbid) like illness or family emergencies; however, for the most part, we try to stick to deadlines to help YOUR child prepare for the future.

4. Variety

Online education allows for tremendous variety.

We can bring in experts from all over the world having them share their expertise with you – the homeschooling family. Digital Photography, coding, cooking, writing, ASL…. you name it and we will find the best – the brightest – the most interactive teacher on this planet to teach your child.

Online classes allow for this.   You no longer have to be limited by time or location.   In addition, many of these unique courses helps enhance a student’s college application!   It is all about experiences and variety!

5. Convenience

Yes, the big joke with homeschoolers has always been, “I can do my work in my pajamas”; with homeschooling education, you can!  I will admit, that while teaching, I might have a nice shirt on; however, I might be in very comfy, flannel pajama pants!   

In addition, not driving your child anywhere …. Saving money on gas…. These are all factors that come into play. Online education is simply convenient!

Here at Open Tent Academy.  we offer semester and year-long class options in online education for grades 3 – 12.  Our unique classes cover a wide variety of traditional subject as well as unique outside the box classes.   Our 2018 – 2019 schedule will be posted mid-February and registration for 2018 -2019 will begin early March.

To learn more about who we are and what we do, please visit us at www.opententacademy.com.


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.

 

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