The Web is full of home schooling methods but very few of the sites know about one of the best home school resources available, which is web conferencing. Web conferencing is just a conference call, with video and a shared desktop added.
Web conferencing is the free and easy way to create a virtual classroom.
Creating a virtual classroom is a great way to keep small groups of home schoolers from becoming isolated. Individual "schools" can join forces, even across the globe.
Web Conferencing is not meant to completely replace sit-down group schooling, but it can greatly enhance a homeschool.
Freedom to set up the best school environment
For rural and urban home schoolers alike, travel time, child pickup, and drop-off are significant logistical hurdles. They are also wastes of gas, time, and money. Many children don't need 32 hours a week to keep socially bonded with all their classmates. Some don't even thrive in large classrooms.
Home schoolers who use web conferencing to enhance their educational system with a virtual classroom can choose to run sit-down classes any way they feel is most productive, whether it is three days a week, or mornings only. They can pack in the hours in winter when the kids are feeling cooped up anyways, and thin them out in the spring, when the daffodils are calling.
Once free web conferencing is set up, sick kids don't need to pass their germs around, and drag their tired bodies to and from "school," even if it is at someone's home. They can keep in touch with their schoolmates and keep up with the curriculum at their own pace.
Virtual classrooms are the ultimate learner-centered education environment, adaptable to any child's needs and learning style.
How Virtual Classrooms work
Web Conferencing is free, and the entire infrastructure is in the Cloud, so there are no downloads required. People just log in to the conference call at the appointed time, and start the "lesson." Moderator Controls make it easy to set up a traditional format with one presenter, or facilitate round table discussions between all participants.
The curricula and educational materials are all shared on every student's desktop, and anyone can contribute directly to the common screen. This participatory educational style suits homeschooling well.
Video Web Conferencing is a great tool to put a "Face to Face" feel to virtual classrooms. Conference Call Recording is another handy feature, where an MP3 of the "class" is emailed within two hours, which can be mounted online.
Any child who misses a "lesson" can go over the information when they recover or get back from vacation.
Keeping the learning team connected
Because conference calls are free, students could remain connected through the virtual classroom all day, checking in to the group whenever desired, and working independently when more appropriate. Web conferencing syncs seamlessly with Google Calendar, so everyone can stay on the same page.
For students with learning disabilities or Autism Spectrum issues, web conferencing can really help teachers set up the perfect learning environment for each child.
Teleconferencing uses the audio channel of the phone, too, so sound quality is crystal clear when you need it.
Parents can use the Mobile Conference Call App to keep in touch with their children at any time of the day, or make contributions from their area of expertise. Virtual classrooms don't promote the artificial separation of families common in traditional schooling.
"Mom, what does hypotenuse mean again? Don't forget I have soccer tonight. Love you."
Home schooling in a global village
One thing traditional schools’ environments are great at is getting mobs of kids together where the sheer numbers mean every child should find a few close friends.
Homeschooling parents are often told about the need to keep their children socially connected, even though most home schooled children grow up very well socially adapted.
Adding the capacity for a virtual office to a home school broadens the potential "school pool" to almost any size, cutting across economic and geographical boundary lines.
Students can work alone, in pairs, in small groups, or all together, and remain connected all through the day.