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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Computer-based Instruction:

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

According to the 2003 census, more than half of all US households own a
computer.  In some states, ownership is higher than 70%.  It's no wonder
that computer-based learning has become a popular choice for many
homeschooling families.  Whether using CD-Rom encyclopedias, word
processing and other office tools, educational software, interactive CD-Rom
worktexts, virtual academies, online video lectures, online textbooks, or
online tutorials... computer-based learning plays a role in many
homeschooling households.  

Computer-based learning, sometimes called "e-learning", can be used in
combination with most other homeschooling methods.  It is especially
helpful to those who are "pulling together" their own curriculum, such as
Eclectic and Self-Directed homeschoolers.  Resourceful homeschool
parents can find free online alternatives that rival most of the packaged
homeschool curricula.  And, with 98.9% of US public libraries offering free
access to computers and the Internet (according to,
August 15, 2005) almost all homeschooling families have some access to
Internet resources.

Computer-based learning can be a good choice for families when children
need to work independently and for older children who are studying higher-
level materials.  It is also a good choice for children with a visual learning
style, for
Game Based Learning, for Audio/Visual Learning, and for
those who simply prefer a multi-media, high-tech,  fast-paced learning
environment.   In addition, working on the computer can be helpful in
homeschooling children with
special needs, such as  learning disabilities,  
vision impairment, communication impairment, and auditory processing

Here is a website, that helps parents learn how to share
computer adventures with their children.  Developed in conjunction with the
MIT Media Lab,  MaMaMedia has fun activities and games that parents can
play with their children, and short webquests that will introduce them to
Internet surfing.  Click on "For Grown ups" at the bottom of the page, then
click on "21st Century Learning" for tips on introducing your children to

Here are some homeschool curricula, both free and for purchase, that rely
on computer-based instruction, and other resources for online learning.  If
your child enjoys learning on the computer, you may find other interesting
resources listed within each school subject area of the
Homeschooling by
Subject section (especially in Audio/Visual and Independent Research
selections for each subject).  Also check the
Distance Learning and
School-at-Home sections for more online options.

Before you allow your students to conduct any unsupervised
Internet research -- please read this article!

"Caution:  The Internet is not Rated G"

Curriculum Options and Other Resources:

Switched on School House - (3 - 12) a CD-Rom version of the Alpha
Christain curriculum used in some private schools, 90% of school
work is done on the computer thru interactive worktexts l

Robinson Curriculum - K - 12 curriculum, all on CD-ROM,  includes math,
science, and reading, does not include history, geography, or foreign

Time4Learning -- (preK - 8) completely online, standards-aligned
curriculum sold as a monthly subscription.  Includes interactive, self-paced
lessons, activities, printable worksheets, learning games, and assessments.
Children may work at different levels in different subjects, text narration
optional.  Many families with special needs students find this flexibility
helpful.  The focus is on language arts and math with social studies and
science provided as "bonus" items.  

Global Village School for Peace and Diversity Studies -- (K - 12) a
progressive, customizable homeschool program using online worktexts and
text-based curriculum, students may work at their own pace, accredited
diplomas available, "...Our courses integrate peace, justice, and diversity
studies with the core subjects..."

Islamic Virtual School - free online activities and downloads for learning
Arabic and Islamic practices

3D Learn Interactive Academy - an accredited private school offering  a
standards-alligned "multi-sensory 3-D curriculum" for grades 7-12, high
tech interactive online environment - a virtual reality learning framework -
that requires an estimated 4 - 5 hours online each day, plus additional at-
home hands-on activities, offers full or  part-time enrollment, boasts a 14:1
student to teacher ratio, issues accredited high school diplomas

Fogware - standards-based (used in schools) software on CD_ROM,
virtual textbook with interactive exercises and worksheets, tests.  Complete
curriculum for elementary, middle school, and high school

Brain Pop - thousands of educational animated cartoon segments on
topics in all subject areas, humorous and fast-paced, subscription-based,
free trial available - a search tool that helps you find free online expert
presentations and lectures

Discovery Learning Connections - over 30,000 educational video
segments (search by topic) and "brain games", subscription-based, with a
free 2 week free trial

Explore Learning - a collection of short math and science leaning
modules called "Gizmos" available thru subscription, free trial available - this website has a search tool that locates educational
video segments and lets you view them online for free

IPL The Internet Public Library -- a free collection of links in a variety of
subject areas, this is a page dedicated to kids resources, they also have
links arranged by subject area, and links to free online books

National Repository of Online Courses -- a library of free, high-quality
online courses for students and faculty in higher education, high school
and Advanced Placement, includes math, science, and social studies

Connexions by Rice University  -  contains educational materials in all
subjects for all levels, from children to college students to professional.  
Information is organized in small modules that stand alone or can be  easily
connected into larger courses.  Connexions is an innovative environment
for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing
scholarly content on the Web.  All content is free.  
Annenberg Media - (K - adult) educational videos can be viewed free
online using "Video on Demand" , or purchased thru their website

MIT Open Courseware - free online course materials for actual MIT
classes (no credit given)

Colleges and Universities that Offer Free Courses Online (Oct 29,
2007) -- a nice compilation from
United Streaming - a subscription-based "Video on Demand" supplier of
over 30,000 educational videos, used in schools, discounted homeschool
yearly subscriptions available

Thinkwell - college level CD-Rom courses in science, math, and social
studies are presented in 10-minute segments of video lectures,  samples of
each class available for preview on the website, courses are purchased
Bright Minds Critical Thinking Books and CD-Roms- workbooks full of
puzzles, brain teasers and critical thinking activities, and educational

Kid' - reviews and sales of kids educational software, by
Creation Engine - academic discounts on software for schools and

Edventures Online - combines online tutorials with hands-on project-
based learning for interdisciplinary problem solving and critical thinking,
online subscription required

Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons -- free online courses in
all subject areas, K - adult - explanations of how various objects, and
processes,and concepts work  
TechTrekers WebQuests - K-12 - hundreds of free ideas for research-
based learning using the Internet,  

TutorVista -- inexpensive tutoring services out of an Asian call center,
straight monthly fee,  read a article about this service

There are also many
free and subscription online courses, modules and
curriculum -- you will find them within each school subject in the
Homeschooling by Subject section of the Diner.

Related Resources:

Nintenducation – A New Take On Edutainment by AJ Glasser, 12:30
PM on Wed Apr 22 2009, 12,425 views --even schools are seeing the
benefits of computer-based education ;-)
"The most dangerous experiment we can conduct with our children
is to keep schooling the same at a time when every other
aspect of our society is dramatically changing."
-- Chris Dede, written statement to the PCAST panel, 1997