Beyond ERIC: The Early Years: Part Two: Curricula, Kids, and Technology-Special Education

Article excerpt

The first installment of this series on the use of technology in education dealt with policy issues and tools that administrators and educators can employ to improve the delivery of education-related materials, track the progress of students and teacher performance, and educate the educators themselves on how to use advanced information technologies. This second installment focuses on online resources for teachers covering specific curricula. It also provides guidance for parents who want to monitor how their children are using the technology and sources for children seeking help with their homework or additional information about subjects that interest them. The last section of the article highlights special education resources for teachers, parents, and students.

Age- and grade-specific subject matter abound on the Internet. Mathematics and science are the subjects of choice for Web site developers, though history, social studies, and language arts are gaining fast. Just recently, we heard of summer courses for students, such as Virtual Dissection and Online Gym ("Online Classes Offer Virtual Dissection, but Gym Still Takes Sweat" by Sam Dillon, The New York Times, August 2, 2005, p. A14). For college-aged students and adults, language development is the focus in many institutions, with some sites supplementing in-class coursework and others substituting online sources where audio- or videocassette tapes, including English as a second language (ESL), were once used. Some sites cover a multitude of subjects, while others are confined to a narrow field, such as Business English Lessons for Adults [http://www.better-english.com/exerciselist.html] and Agriculture in the Classroom [http://www.cfaitc.org/]. Museums offer more than simple advertisements for current exhibits, also providing study materials for students and teachers, e.g., the Truman Library [http://www.tm manlibrary.org/educatio.htm]. The sites highlighted in Table 1 beginning on page 11 represent the range of resource types you might seek, from simple flash cards and self-study exercises to full-blown lessons.

Keeping Kids Safe and Interested

The importance of early education for childhood development has been appreciated for some time, manifested in the sometimes controversial Head Start program [http://www2.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/hsb/]. Parents concerned about the progress of their children have shifted from buying educational toys to using education Web sites to advance the learning of pre-kindergarten-aged children to ensure their readiness for full-time schooling.

With children spending so much time on the Internet, parents and society have become concerned for their safety. This has led to the development of many Web sites designed to help children and parents understand how to avoid problems when using the Internet. Here are some of the sites:

* Kid's Rules for Online Safety [http://www.safeldds. com/kidsrules.htm]

* Kidsmart, a practical Internet safety program Web site for schools, young people, parents, and agencies [http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/]

* CyberAngels, a comprehensive resource focusing on Internet safety, offering guidance for parents and providing information and solutions to common Internet safety issues [http://www.cyberangels.org/]

* Safe surfing guidelines from Yahooligans! [http:// yahooligans.yahoo.com/parents/]

* CyberNetiquette Comix, an entertaining, interactive way for families to learn valuable lessons about online safety [http://disney.go.com/cybersafety/]

* Kidshealth for Parents exhorts parents to "be aware of what your children see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves online" and helps parents share their concerns with their children [http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/fam ily/net_safety.html].

* "The Internet offers kids many opportunities for learning, constructive entertainment, and personal growth. …