Educating the heart, mind, and soul in the Catholic tradition with online classes

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Monday, May 16, 2016

How to Succeed with Homeschool Online Classes, Part One

There are two types of online classes. First, there are recorded, independent-learning classes where students watch recorded lectures on their own schedule. Answer keys or grading services are usually provided. Second, there are live, interactive classes where students meet with the teacher and fellow students in real time in a virtual classroom. The teacher is available for assistance outside of class time and typically handles grading. Today we'll talk about live, interactive classes (Part One). Tomorrow we'll talk about recorded, independent-learning courses (Part Two). While we hope you'll sign up for Homeschool Connections' courses, these tips will help you with any online course provider.

How to Get the Most Out of Live, Interactive Online Classes

  1. Make sure you have the necessary equipment. This typically includes a headset with microphone; high speed internet; and a computer. In rare cases you may need a webcam.
  2. Check the course details and collect any course materials that need to be purchased well in advance. 
  3. Read all  information sent to you by your course provider. This will typically include information on how to submit homework; how to message your teacher; student & parent expectations; and more.
  4. Parents need to make sure their student attends class and check that their homework assignments are being submitted in a timely fashion. As with any homeschooling program, self-discipline and parental follow up is important. 
  5. If your live classes are recorded, go back and watch the recording if you need to review.
  6. Always be respectful of your instructor's time by keeping deadlines. If homework will be late due to illness or other unforeseen problem, notify the instructor ASAP and make arrangements for late grading. 
  7. Prepare a notebook for the course to write notes while participating in the classes. Also use the notebook for homework. Review as needed. Handwritten notes help students retain information.
  8. Find a comfortable place and make sure you have everything you need for class before you start: pencil; notebook; textbook; water; etc.
  9. Come to class prepared and use the live time with your teacher productively. Don't be afraid to "raise your hand" to ask questions or request clarification.
  10. Keep distractions to a minimum. Use a headset to help block outside noises. The headset should have a working microphone so you can speak in class.
  11. If you have wireless Internet, ask others in the household to refrain from Internet use during class time. This will open up more bandwidth so your class will stream smoothly.
  12. Take advantage of additional support materials if offered. These can include websites; reading materials; videos; etc.
  13. Make sure to record grades and file for your records. (For help, click here: Free Homeschooling Forms.)
  14. Email your course provider immediately if you have any questions or ever need help.

We hope that these tips help you succeed in your online classes. If you have further tips, please share in the comments below.


Anonymous said...

Don't have another tip, but want to reaffirm your tip about follow up. It's tempting to leave all the responsibility to the online teacher. But that's one of the failures of sending your child to school isn't it: we stop being proactive in our children's education. I learned this the hard way. I now write days and times on my calendar to meet with my son to check on progress. I also make sure I have his password so I can go into his account to make sure he has in fact turned in homework. You can even watch classes with your kids if the classes recorded (and relearn some cool stuff).

Alice said...

I would add that if this is your first ever online class to do a trial run beforehand. Make sure you can log into your student account okay and that you know how to get into the virtual classroom. You don't want to discover problems 10 minutes before the first class is scheduled to start. Also, if your child has any special needs, make sure to message the teacher well in advance of the first class. Let her know if your child needs any accommodations. Or, if you have a gifted child, ask if it's possible to provide extra credit work or a supplementary reading list.