By Raising Children Network
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Students working online in the classroom credit iStockphotos.com/sturti
 
Online education means using tools like the internet, computer games and apps to develop children’s literacy, numeracy, communication and other skills. Online learning will almost certainly be a part of your child’s experience at school. You can use it at home too.

What online education looks like

Online education comes in many forms. At school your child might use online learning tools to do research, to create content, to work with others, or to work individually.

Doing research
Your child might:
  • use websites and other online tools to get more information about topics she’s studying at school or to do school projects 
  • use a tablet or smartphone on a field trip to look up and identify birds, animals or plants
  • use ‘interactive whiteboards’ in the classroom to access online information.

Creating content
Your child might:

  • do school projects using presentation software, multimedia like video and music files, and internet resources 
  • build and contribute to class websites and blogs
  • post ideas, opinions and feelings on class discussion boards
  • create wikis to share and collectively build knowledge.

Working with others
Your child might:

  • brainstorm classroom projects with other students and get feedback from the teacher in real-time chat rooms 
  • collaborate with other students around the world using online platforms like epals or video conferencing tools
  • be part of a flipped classroom, which means that he watches short video lectures at home, and uses class time to work with peers on exercises, projects or discussions.

Working individually
Online resources and educational websites like Mathletics, Go-Lab or Spellodrome let your child work at her own pace and level.

Online education needs well-trained teachers and expert technical assistance to be effective. It also needs fast internet access and good software to work properly. And students need to learn how to use the technology.

Benefits of online education

When it’s used well, online learning can help students to:

  • actively participate in learning and work collaboratively
  • use different learning styles
  • develop questioning, thinking and problem-solving skills
  • improve communication skills
  • develop creative and presentation skills
  • develop more global perspectives on topics.
Project-based online learning is very effective, and students, teachers and parents enjoy it. Students can find material that suits their learning style, teachers can include flexibility, collaboration and creativity in their lessons, and parents can enjoy helping their children research and find resources online.

Online learning at home

There are lots of ways you can use online education tools and online learning techniques at home.

Some families enjoy setting up a combined Facebook page with everyone in the family contributing information and pictures.

Another option is a family wiki or blog to share interests and ideas. For example, your child could upload links to her favourite websites on the wiki or blog, and explain why she thinks others might enjoy them. She could also add an interactive photo album, a video she has made, or her own movie, music and TV reviews. All these activities encourage your child to write and express herself, as well as enabling her to develop useful technical skills. 

Building a family tree using online resources might stimulate your child and get your family members to do a fun activity together. This project is also educational because it involves reading, research, design and analysis skills. Websites like Family Tree Builder can help.

Blogging is something we do as a family. We discuss story ideas together, then we help Max and Alice with grammar and punctuation. The children enjoy it and it doesn’t really feel like homework, but it’s still building a lot of skills and education for them.
 
 
 
  • Last updated or reviewed 07-12-2016
  • Acknowledgements This article was developed in collaboration with Lee Burton, media and digital educator and Director at imMEDIAte Issues media consultancy.