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No technological invention in the history of man has connected the people of the world like the Internet. The ability to learn new information or a new skill whenever or wherever you want offers greater opportunities for homeschool education than ever before. Many online learning courses have been researched and tested, and prove to be a great way for students to learn from the comfort of their own home. In addition, online courses and assessments are structured, easy to use, and provide automated reports that track your student's academic success. With online learning, a virtual classroom is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week, allowing students to review assignments, take practice quizzes, chat with fellow students, and study any time they want.
 

April 22, 2009
 

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Supplementing homeschool education with online classes can help students learn self-discipline, self-motivation, independence, time management, and 21st century skills. Your students will learn how to find information, synthesize it, and formulate an answer to any question type on their own.

Top 10 Advantages of Online Learning

1. Students share perspectives

Online courses can provide students with discussion boards and chat functions that allow them to share their own perspectives. Students can view responses from others, and learn through exposure to different ideas. This benefits students because they can evaluate new opinions alongside their own, and develop a solid foundation for learning.

2. Students experience a sense of equality

Web-based learning tools give all students a reinforced sense of equality. Each student has the same opportunity to "speak up" without fear or embarrassment. Shy and anxious students feel more comfortable expressing their ideas via online posts; studies prove that online discussions provoke more direct communication between students.

3. Instructors are more accessible

Online learning also benefits students by providing an additional avenue for instructor contact. This is particularly helpful when a student's schedule conflicts with a teacher's or tutor's hours, or when a question arises at the spur of the moment. Additional online tools, such as ALEKS, a Web-based math program, can provide one-on-one instruction that follows the student's schedule for just a fraction of the cost of an in-home tutor!

4. Accommodations for different learning styles

Every student has a unique learning style. Some students are visual learners and some learn better with a "hands-on" approach. Web-based learning environments often incorporate a variety of resources into a single course, allowing students to utilize materials according to their learning style.

5. Provides opportunities for exploration

Online learning provides an increased opportunity for student exploration and activities by incorporating related Web sites into daily lessons. When courses reference these types of Web sites, content reinforcement is provided as students can see how course material is utilized in "real world" situations.

6. Encourages additional information rehearsal

Additional benefits for students who learn better with a hands-on approach occur when students participate in online discussions since they are exposed to an extra period of information rehearsal. Typically, students rehearse information when they study for exams or complete assignments. However, they also rehearse information when forming thoughts into sentences and typing those thoughts into the computer. This results in reflection and articulation of content, as the very process of reporting and writing about what they have learned engages students in an active learning experience.

7. Provides 24/7 accessibility to course materials

Some students work best in the morning, some in the evening, and some throughout the day. Scheduling time for homework and projects can be difficult depending on each student's classes, outside activities, and personal responsibilities. Online learning eliminates the need to conduct lessons at a specific time and allows your child to work when it is convenient for her/him. ALEKS, for example, is available 24/7 over the Internet, with unlimited online access from both PC and Mac computers. This provides a flexible, mobile educational solution for students.

8. Continual access to materials

When course content and activities are provided online, students no longer need to worry about accessing course materials in a traditional manner. Continual access to course documents ensures that students can obtain materials at any time, removing the opportunity for frustration, such as "The library was closed."

9. Provides just-in-time methods to assess and evaluate student progress.

Assessments are essential in education; results inform the parent whether teaching methods and course structures are successful. Assessments also determine if student progress is satisfactory. ALEKS provides personalized assessments to determine exactly what your child knows, doesn't know, and is ready to learn next. The assessment results are displayed in a color-keyed pie chart, creating an individualized learning path for your child that introduces new concepts gradually, and at the precise moment that he or she is ready to successfully learn the topic.

10. Added educational benefits

Web-based testing features also have many other educational benefits. Practice exams and end-of-chapter reviews can be quickly analyzed to provide you with immediate results. Students can access these tests at any time, and since grading is computerized, students receive immediate feedback. This may also help students who suffer from test anxiety to relax and help to minimize embarrassment for those that do poorly.

Although online courses are great in any subject, they are especially helpful with complex subjects such as math. Math can be a challenging subject for homeschoolers, especially as the content becomes more advanced. A strong math curriculum offering individualized learning tools can be critical for success, while also providing homeschoolers with peace of mind that their mathematics needs are being met. ALEKS, a research-based online math program, uses an artificial intelligence engine to provide individualized assessment and learning for grades 3-12. The integration of Web-based learning programs such as ALEKS, bring added value to traditional education. Parents benefit from the assessment tools and robust reporting features available from the ALEKS Master Account, while students receive a customized approach to knowledge acquisition that suits diverse learning styles and busy schedules.

Homeschoolers like ALEKS because it uses artificial intelligence to provide new learning topics only when your child is ready to learn them; this builds tremendous learning momentum in mathematics. ALEKS can be used as a core curriculum or supplement, and is integrated with all 50 states' standards.

ALEKS provides:

  • Complete explanations for every practice problem, including alternative explanations when appropriate. ALEKS also offers immediate feedback for your child based on his or her response to a problem. Furthermore, multiple-choice questions are avoided, meaning your child must use realistic input tools to demonstrate topic mastery.
     
  • Access to the full online ALEKS course library allows your child to progress through multiple courses during the subscription period. ALEKS QuickTables, a research-based math fact mastery tool for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, is included with every subscription.
     
  • Automated reports track your child's progress in real-time, enabling you to quickly gauge your child's progress. The ALEKS Pie Chart also allows your child to access a graphic representation of his or her progress towards completing a course at any time; filling the ALEKS Pie becomes very motivating to the student.
     
  • Accessibility from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a flexible and mobile educational solution for your children.
     
  • Preparation for success in higher education mathematics courses. ALEKS has been used by millions of students at thousands of K-12 schools and higher education institutions throughout the world. Furthermore, some ALEKS course products are American Council for Education (ACE) credit recommended, meaning that your student may be eligible for college credit at participating colleges. Learn more at www.aleks.com/homeschool/ace_credit

There are even more advantages to online learning than those we have listed here; we encourage you to try an online learning program to evaluate the educational possibilities for your child. A 1-month free trial of ALEKS is available (new users only) to help you explore online learning options for your student. Here are what some of your homeschooling peers have to say about ALEKS:

"I have used at least 5 different math programs during my 5 years of homeschooling and did not find the right fit for both of my children until I found ALEKS. It is the perfect combination of practice and mastery."
 
- Cynthia Wygant, Homeschooling Parent

"Because ALEKS is so diverse, I believe relaxed, classical, and unschooling home educators will be able to use and benefit from the program. It is particularly suited for a visual learner, but auditory or kinesthetic learners will not find it difficult or tiring."
 
- Tina Rice, Homeschooling Parent

"My daughter absolutely loves ALEKS! She wakes up and runs to the computer to start ALEKS - a far cry from working for 3 hours, kicking and screaming, to complete just a couple of problems. She loves the freedom and independence of working on her own. Thank you so much!"
 
-Sudy Graham, Homeschooling Parent

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