Internet Brings Families, World Together

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 22, 2005 | Go to article overview

Internet Brings Families, World Together


Byline: Kate Tsubata, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

With the speed of technological advances, discrepancies in educational opportunities are fast disappearing. Just a few years ago, home-schoolers seemed to be hampered by lack of access to specialized facilities such as laboratories for science studies or studios for art instruction. Thanks to innovative and inexpensive tools being produced, we no longer have to be held back by our simple surroundings.

As a result of several requests from overseas and other states, our family recently researched video conferencing and invested in a Web cam. This is a small camera that connects to your computer, which sends your live image to someone else with the same equipment. You sign up for the software, available from a number of sources, and hook up a microphone. Voila - you suddenly are capable of conducting classes in real time, over the Internet, with anyone from anyplace in the world.

The same day we purchased the camera and downloaded the software, our family conducted a training session for a team of teens and parents from the West Coast. Participants introduced themselves, gave reports, asked questions and described problems. We gave some suggestions and did some brainstorming. Then we agreed to follow up the next day with a second session.

This method not only saved us thousands of dollars in the airfares and logistical arrangements of sending speakers and trainers several thousand miles away, but it also allowed all of us to stay close to our resources and responsibilities at home. We can have the benefits of giving and receiving specialized instruction, with almost none of the loss of continuity that sometimes results from long-distance exchanges.

We also have arranged to share a weekly phone call with students from another country. This allows us to learn new languages and exchange information as well. Imagine being able to check your grammar and pronunciation with a native speaker rather than just listening to a recording and trying to imitate it. …

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