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 and many other skills. Online learning is almost certainly part of your child’s experience at school. You can use it at home too.

What online education looks like

Online educational resources come in many forms. At your child’s school, for example, students might:

  • use ‘interactive whiteboards’ to access the internet, and video conferencing tools to connect with students, teachers and experts in other locations
  • research and present projects using software, multimedia (such as video and music files) and internet resources
  • learn more complex information, such as scientific terms, with the help of online testing 
  • build and contribute to class websites
  • brainstorm classroom projects with each other and get feedback from the teacher in real-time chat rooms 
  • post ideas, opinions and feelings on discussion boards
  • create wikis
  • work at their own pace using educational websites such as Mathletics or Spellodrome, to improve their knowledge and skills
  • write and upload content to blogs, which can be a great form of creative self-expression
  • use netbooks, consoles, tablets and smartphones – for example, students might use a smartphone on a field trip to access a website, such as Biodiversity Snapshots, where they can look up and identify birds, animals or plants, record their observations and upload photographs.

Benefits of online education

Online education needs expert teacher assistance and well-trained teachers to be effective. It also needs fast internet access and good software to work properly.

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

  • actively participate in their learning and work collaboratively
  • use different learning styles
  • develop their questioning, thinking and problem-solving skills
  • improve their communication skills
  • develop creative and presentation skills
  • develop a more global perspective 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 child 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. There are websites such as Family Tree Builder that 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 26-06-2015
  • Acknowledgements Content in this article was developed in collaboration with Lee Burton, imMEDIAte issues.