[r63] Messmer Report: A Classroom, Virtually

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, July 23, 2010

What if your student could attend school online, from home, and for free?

There are still opening's at Indiana's second virtual charter school in Indiana: Indiana Connections Academy.

The academy's purpose, according to news article - what news articles, is to serve "a wide range of [Indiana] students, from those who are ahead or behind academically, to those who simply need a different school environment."

A virtual charter school may or may not be connected to what has been termed a "bricks and mortar" school, but the virtual school itself uses a combination of the internet and phone conversations with teachers to bring education right to students in their homes.

Field trips, gatherings with other local virtual students and phone conversations combine with online learning at these virtual schools to provide students with a comprehensive education.

At Hoosier Academies, younger students are not expected to spend more than one fifth of their educational time on the computer.

The idea of being educated online for grades K-12 may seem foreign, but could prove very helpful to students who, for some reason, are kept at home because of health issues, or who are able to move through material more quickly.

State Superintendent of Public Schools Dr. Tony Bennett has said, "We need competitive partners who are willing to break the molds of traditional education as they provide more learning opportunities for our children. Innovation, improved quality, and lower costs of doing business are the usual results of competition in the economic sphere, and evidence suggests education would improve in much the same way."

I agree with him wholeheartedly.

Indiana's workforce needs are changing, which means that Hoosier students' needs are changing. If we don't adapt to meet those needs, we do our students a disservice.

Innovative charter schools like these are still new, and we will be watching them closely in the coming years to see how effective they are.  If they prove helpful, they may be a good tool and viable alternative to traditional school settings.

For more information about Indiana Connections Academy, visit www.connectionsacademy.com.

And speaking of alternative school settings, consider planning some fun math projects with your kids over the rest of the summer.

Some researchers have found that "children's IQ's drop or stagnate over the summer months when they are on vacation (particularly for kids whose parents don't inflict books or summer programs on them)."

Consider these fun ideas for fighting summer "brain drain". (Some are taken from ABC's Good Morning America):

-Join a fantasy sports league! Drafting and following your team "requires researching averages, problem solving, using statistics and crunching numbers."

-Going on vacation? It's a perfect time to talk about fuel prices and mileage. Even better, teach your kids to calculate the travel time left in your trip, and you'll never again have to hear "Are we there yet??"

-Include the kids on household tasks that require math, like cooking, which requires lots of fractions, measurements and chemistry, too.

-What better way to learn money management than at the State Fair or on a trip to Holiday World? Give your kids a little cash and talk about ways to carefully budget every last penny to cover the things they'd like to buy.

Now, don't worry, there's still plenty of summer left to enjoy prior to starting school!