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Learning and the Web

That’s a great question, Sean. "Why don’t you Google that and see if you can find the answer?” Can you imagine the blank stare that statement might have evoked 20 years ago if a teacher had responded that way to a student’s question?

As years pass, the influence of technology on the shape of education continues to grow. Probably few things have had a greater impact than the Internet. The Internet has been a blessing for teachers in numerous ways. It helps them access information they might not have been able to find before. Educators no longer rely solely on textbooks written by colleagues. Rather, through websites like Pinterest and TeachersPayTeachers, educators can gather ideas from other teachers all over the country with a simple click of a button.

Teachers can also access videos that add interest to lessons. YouTube is one popular and easily accessible resource that features a wide variety of videos. (Some cautions are noted below.) Other video resources are being developed every day.

Through these videos, the window is open to students to view things oth­erwise invisible to the naked eye, such as panoramas from space or teeming life on a microscope slide. In the areas of literature and English, students can view reenactments of stories and songs or memorable explanations of gram­mar concepts. Activities that teach almost any challenging math concept are readily available.

The Internet is also a great help to students as they create projects for their classes. In the past, students searched for resources at their local libraries. The selection often was limited. Through the Internet, students now have the opportunity to access books from all over. Of even greater benefit is the fact that they can access articles, research studies, pictures, explanations, activities, and more that have never made it into a textbook. Google Scholar is one website that helps students find academic articles and books about any topic.

The Internet can also be a blessing for parents and students as they do their routine homework. If they run into problems or concepts they don’t understand, they can probably find explanations or help on the Internet. For example, if parents aren’t confi­dent in their own knowledge of a particular math concept that may be a part of their children’s homework, they can very likely find sources that teach the concept. Just as important is the related learning that takes place through the Internet. As students process their homework, questions may surface about related topics. By having access to a ready source of information, students can explore, adding to the body of knowledge they will take with them as they prepare to lead productive lives—the major goal behind their education.

Of course, a warning is in order. As with most other things that can be good and beneficial, the Internet can also be used for sinful purposes. Parents need to monitor their children’s Internet activity and spend time teaching them the dangers that can exist on the Internet. Also, because anyone can post information on the Internet, the information isn’t always accurate. We have to learn to be discerning and teach that skill to our children. The Google Scholar site mentioned above uses a set of criteria to rank the various articles. That system helps us to have confi­dence in the material that is available there. And though we can learn a lot using YouTube videos, sometimes the language, content, and visuals aren’t appropriate. Parents will want to screen the videos first.

In the hands of discerning educators, parents, and students, the Internet is a tremendous gift from God that enables us to learn more about the magnificence of God’s creation and equips us to use our talents to the best of our abilities.

Below is a list of trustworthy sites that can be of value to parents as they teach their children.

According to Netcraft, an Internet research company, over for anyone anywhere. From any computer with Internet access, a half million active websites currently exist. Most adults parents, teachers, and children alike can explore interactive have learned that not all websites are trustworthy. But finding activities, assessments, and videos. the good ones can be like searching for needles in a haystack. Spellingcity.com acts as a colorful interactive website to help information

Look for a site that has bright colors and children improve their spelling, writing, and captivating graphics and icons but is easy vocabulary. Although the free activities are to navigate. Additionally, there may be a section specifically for parents with information about the company; this creates credibility.  Finally, the website should abide by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which serves to protect children younger than 13 years old from distributing any personal information online without parental consent.

One easily navigable and interactive site for parents of beginning readers is Starfall.com.  Created by Stephen Schutz, who at age 9 still struggled to read, Starfall.com contains many free reading materials that can be printed or viewed online.  This reading program uses research and focuses on phonemic awareness, systematic phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Kahnacademy.org has recently gained a lot of attention.  Many schools use it as a resource for children who need additional help with math and science.  This nonprofit organization provides free quality education for anyone anywhere.  From any computer with Internet access, parents, teachers, and children alike can explore interactive activities, assessments, and videos.

Spellingcity.com acts as a colorful interactive website to help children improve their spelling, writing, and vocabulary.  Although the free activities are limited, for less than 30 dollars per year parents can have access to all activities and games.  The interactive website is easy to navigate and informational.


 

By Emily Seeber and Georgene Hughes, from Parents Crosslink © 2014 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Emily Seeber is a 2014 graduate of Martin Luther College currently called to teach K­8 at Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Georgene Hughes, a 1983 graduate of Doctor Martin Luther College, lives in Watertown, WI, with her husband, Dan, and their three children. She is currently an adult basic education instructor for Madison College.

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