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On line Cyber schooling for Children

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  • On line Cyber schooling for Children

    Cyber School
    This thread is to chronicle my family's experiences with cyber schooling. The primary reason for putting our children in a cyber school was our school districts refusal to allow us to temporarily school at home due to the pandemic (SIP) using lesson plans and assignments provided by their current teachers. This same school District had no problem with approval for a trip to Disney World but refused a withdrawal for the same students due to a pandemic. This is NOT Home Schooling! While I have nothing against home schooling and applauded families who do it and do it well I recognize my own limitations. No way do I or my children have the time, discipline or patience for Home Schooling. I live in a state that while it is not encourage the Powers-That-Be do not intrusively regulate the practice much more than needed to ensure at least a minimally acceptable education. Homeschooled children I personally know have had well rounded educations and opportunities that probably rival or surpass those at area private schools. I also appreciated the work their dedicated mother put in to achieve this. I just do not have that level of dedication.

    The on line Public Charter School graduates its students with a Public school diploma not a GED. This school is accredited by the state we live in and provides education for grades k-12. Basically it is an public school that just happens to be accessed via the internet. A representitive from the school said there has been a steady increase in the demand for the schools services.

    Orientation
    Yesterday we attended orientation at the physical location of The on line public charter cyber school. We filled out more forms, talked with the facilitators and guidance councilors. Technical questions were answered and the educational process and student expectations were explained. We (parents & students) were given a short tutorial in how the online interactive system operated. They will have interactive access to live teachers and other students at the school via chat rooms, emails and IM's. According to the new student orientation at the cyber school, other than for the Federally mandated No Child Left Behind tests they do not ever have to go back to a brick and mortar school.

    We came home with what looks like 2 brand new computers with keyboards, flat screen monitors, microphones, headsets, flash drives, one all in one printer scanner & copier (ink for it too) books and art supplies. [B]All of this was supplied free of charge by the state. Supposedly, even with all this technology it is still cheaper to educate sudents via a cyber school than it is to use the traditional brick and mortar schools with their overhead and bussing. DH ran the cables last night.

    First Day
    Today is our first day of Cyber school. There is a learning curve to get used to the computer software. The kids are starting several months into the school year and there is some confusion as to what projects and assignments will need to be caught up. The nice thing is that they are listed on line and the children can work at their own pace. They had live online chat sessions with their teachers and class mates today. Some of the teachers called and spoke directly with us and their new students. One of our first impressions is that this will require structure and an enforced schedule to ensure all the work that needs to get done is accomplished.

    Tests were taken, monitored by the parent facilitator. The test was then scanned into the computer and emailed to the teacher at the school, other written assignments were handled in a similar fashion. Assigned reading was timed and completed. The school only offers the language our child took at their previous school at the high school level. The compromise is this semester they audit the class at the advanced high school level and if they do well they will be enrolled in the regular advanced class next year.
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

  • #2
    Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

    Day 2
    Things learned so far:
    1) Never believe a student when they say their school work is done. Trust and verify.
    2) The online Parent Overview of the students progress provides a detailed status of what has been assigned, what work has been addressed by the students and its status. The dog cannot eat the homework!
    3) Video cams were not included and have been shipped.
    4) There were some security issues. Some chat rooms needed to be unlocked by the school to allow access.
    5) The surprise came when I noticed the kids initial reactions to the change in schooling. The extrovert loved it and was able to tackle the work head on. Our older introvert needed more instruction and missed his friends at the old school.

    Day 3
    1) Security issues have been resolved and the cams are up and running.
    2) Once the older child could access the chats and interact directly with other students and teachers his apprehension over the change lessened significantly. Also finding a class mate from his former school helped.
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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    • #3
      Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

      This is awesome!! Is it available to families in any state? We have so struggled with the issue of school and whether to home school, and knew it would be difficult for us too.
      I have four things to learn in life:
      to think clearly without hurry or confusion; to love everybody sincerely; to act in everything with the highest motives; to trust in God unhesitatingly.

      ~Albert Schweitzer~

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      • #4
        Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

        Originally posted by Cindie View Post
        This is awesome!! Is it available to families in any state? We have so struggled with the issue of school and whether to home school, and knew it would be difficult for us too.
        To answer the question Cindie, I just don't know. You will probably have to check with your board of education or school district to find out if it is available in your state.

        The school my kids are in is relatively new. I think it was started in 2004 in someone's garage. Sounds kind of like Apple or Microsoft doesn't it? Now the school has several thousand students and its headquarters is an impressive facility. I remember reading articles regarding our state Public cyber schools back when they started. There were some fossils in our state legislature that fought the funding for it. It wasn't a hard sell with the reductions in the cost when compared to that of a brick and mortar school, the quality of education provided, safety concerns for students and the flexibility.

        There are still some who wave "Child Socialization!" like a flag in their futile fight against it. That argument only fly's with those totally ignorant of the process. The kids get a lot of interaction on line. Their school offers field trips, dances, proms and other classes offered at the main facility. Students do make friends in school and can get together in real life.

        The flexibility allows parents by themselves or in groups to provide additional educational field trips for the kids. So if I want to take the kids to a museum, historic site or cultural event during what is viewed as "the traditional school day" I can. They better get their work caught up if they want that to happen! It looks like we will even be able to substitute the children's martial arts class for physical education.

        Day 4
        We found some more passwords that need to be updated to allow access to more of the school's online resources. I tried to log onto the school's interactive software designed to let parents keep an eye on what their students have been up to from an offsite compute. It didn't work and another call to tech support supplied the source of the free online software I needed to download to access the school's data. The contact at tech support said we are making good progress for just having started.
        We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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        • #5
          Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

          Day 5
          A teacher emailed a missing text book will be sent. The passwords and site access has been taken care of so the students can get to their class materials. There was even a video on Novel H1N1 (Swine Flu); what it is and precautions students should take during flu season.

          Since the kids are coming in at the end of a marking period it is left up to the discretion of the individual teachers what assignments have to be "caught up on". Another nice thing about cyber school is that now that these have been identified: the kids have access to all the materials they need to do the assignments, teacher are available for clarification on any problems via chat rooms, emails, IM's and phone calls. School policy is that teachers have one day to respond to students or parents emails and phone messages. My teachers were never that accessible! It is very easy to track the status of each student's assignments on line and watch their progress or lack thereof. So far the kids are doing great.

          My youngest informed me he was dressed and ready for school this morning while still in his PJ's. He is very happy about being learning math at his own pace. The teacher at his old school was excellent. Unfortunately, along with being very strict (which I view as a good thing) she had a reputation for hollering at students. Not being yelled at for taking extra time figuring out an answer is appreciated and makes him feel "better inside".

          The oldest met with some of the other students after school at a local book store with an adjoining cafe where they read books and chatted. I was informed in no uncertain terms that "It was not a date!" even though there were girls and boys there. The get together was loosely chaperoned by parents. I didn't like the idea because of the severity of the pandemic still in the area. DH does not see it as a big deal. If it were left totally up to me they can catch up on "socialization" after the pandemic.
          We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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          • #6
            Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

            Day 6
            It has been about a week now the kids have been in cyber school. This was the first day that did not require a call or inquire to the school for some sort of technical or other type of support or clarification. The youngest one loves it. For Art class he painted a piece of unfired clay to look like a flower. They are currently studying ceramics. Music is not his favorite class because he does not enjoy playing an instrument, which he is supposed to do for 20 minuets a day. Luckily it is an elective course and not part of his core study courses. Today he was done most of his class work by about 9:30 in the morning and had no class chats scheduled. He worked a head yesterday on some of his assignments for today. So he earned some time off.

            My oldest on the other hand is having some issues. The missing text book finally appeared. He is not setting appropriate priorities. He has worked a head in core subjects that he enjoys and is lagging one subject he is not as fond of. We insist that the core courses are covered, science, math, English and world history. We also insist that they participate in the school chat rooms for each of their subjects. The chats he enjoys and actively participates in. He has some significant catching up to do with his foreign language course. The language teacher was the only one who insisted he do all the work assignments from the beginning of the year and I have to admit the list is somewhat intimidating. He still misses his friends from his old school and has asked if he could return to it. I told him we will discuss it after the pandemic is over. He wanted to know; "Will that take a week?".

            Being the at home facilitator is not as hard as I initially feared. The easy accessibility to their teachers is a wonderful resource. Usually my job is just to provide assistances in clarifying the assignment requirements and giving a nudge in the right direction here or there. My main input into the process is to make sure the daily assignments are being completed. A quick view of the online student overviews lets me know what the current status is for each of them, so I have no excuses either.
            We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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            • #7
              Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

              End of Week 1
              The first week of cyber school has passed and this is what we have discovered so far.
              1) With the children having such direct access to their teachers we parents actually have less work to do as "Cyber School Facilitators" then we did as concerned parents helping with homework.
              2) There is no "homework" it is all class work and counts as such.
              3) Feedback on a student's progress is available on a daily basis. If there is a problem or issue with a student it can be detected and addressed the same day unlike the brick and mortar school where it might wait for weeks or months until an official parent teacher conference.
              4) It does require that parents access the student overviews and review their children's progress or lack thereof and address issues when they occur.
              5) Socialization was less of an issue then I expected. Responsibility for socialization does fall more on the parents or facilitators. School chats, extracurricular activities, arranging social time with peers and substituting a Martial Arts class for Physical Education have helped.
              6) The technical difficulties have for the most part been ironed out and all needed supplies and equipment have been delivered. Everything was in good order.
              7) Having the state pick up the cost for the high speed internet service is an added plus.
              8) It is nice not to have to worry about the children being physically bullied by other students which was an issue. Not all Socialization is for the good and while it is good for kids to know how to deal with bullies it is not good when they are forced into daily contact with bullies who the school staff cannot prevent from injuring other students, transfer or expel.
              9) Cyber school has significantly decreased the number of exposures the children have on a daily basis. No far no flu.
              10) The kids are no longer wasting two hours a day (sometimes more) on a bus ride to and form school. With winter and icy country roads that is another worry gone.
              11) The teachers have been very prompt about getting back to us facilitators and students when we have questions or issues.
              12) Today I received a call from one of the schools guidance counselors reminding me of the classes and events available at the main school facility. Maybe after this flu wave passes we will consider taking advantage of them.
              We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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              • #8
                Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

                End of first marking period.
                The kids managed to make it though the first marking period. There have been some minor problems along the way.
                Two headsets had to be replaced.
                Lack of a password or two delayed their ability to access some of the learning materials for about a day. The school was quick to ensure they got the proper access.
                Some teaching materials came later than originally expected.
                For the last week the online system has as the kids put it, "been laggy!" for two days they managed to sign on but due to technical problems were unable to do any real work. Needless to say having two days off did not break their hearts. The school is working to resolve their networking problems. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.
                The other side of the coin is while the brick and mortar schools were having off for "snow days" after a particularly heavy snow storm mine still had to do their daily school work.
                DH says the course work could be better organized and that not enough warning is given for certain tests and assignments.
                Mother had to learn the hard way to: trust but verify that all assignments were actually being done.

                Major differences to date:
                Much more flexibility. If I want to take the kids to a cultural event or historic site during a school day, they sign in so their daily attendance is recorded and we go. They still have to get all their school work done for the day, much of it can usually be done a day in advance.
                Problems and issues are more immediate. There is much closer communication between parent/facilitators and teachers. When a problem arises it is usually dealt with the same day with phone calls, online chats and/or emails instead of scheduling a parent teacher conference or waiting for report cards.
                The curriculum is also flexible in that teachers can take advantage of local events and resources pertinent to their class studies and institute field trips so the students can take advantage of them. This can be done on relatively short notice as long as parents have the flexibility to provide transportation.
                Students get no time off due to inclement weather, broken school plumbing, inadequate in school heating or teacher "In Service Days" (I never did find out what they were for). As of now it looks like their school year will end on schedule.

                All in all it has been a good experience for all involved.
                We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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                • #9
                  Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

                  No snow days for Cyber School

                  The teachers are working from home. They have to, roads are closed and many are just dangerous to drive on. I think there has been a little jealousy with all the brick and mortar school closings. I don't think the kids realize the snow days translate into more make up school days in the spring. So far the Cyber School is still on schedule with no make up days.

                  Here the rule is no sledding or playing outside or video games until school work is done. They usually inform me "I am the worst mother in the world!" at least once a day. It lets me know I'm doing my job right.

                  One thing I will have to do is find out the school's policy on black outs and communication outages. We had one yesterday. Luckily the kids were done with their school work by then. I was also surprised at the kids attitude when the school had some communication issues a few weeks ago. They were a little upset and informed me emphatically that it was "not their fault!".

                  For me it is a relief not to have to worry about them in school buses out on ice and snow covered back country roads.

                  Classes at this school support and interact with each other.
                  I cannot speak for other Cyber Schools but there must be a high level of communications between the teachers at the one my kids attend. It is becoming more and more apparent that they set up their assignments to reinforce what is being learned in each other's classes. My husband has mentioned this as well. Yesterday I came across my youngest composing a haiku in his Language Arts class the theme of which was a battle that had been discussed earlier in the history class.
                  We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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                  • #10
                    Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

                    End of our first year of Cyber School

                    The school year was over, the kids were sleeping late and I was on my way to do some shopping. I passed the local elementary school. It's parking lot was filled with cars as school was still in session making up snow days. It reminded me I haven't updated this thread in a while. First off the kids did well and passed all their subjects. They did have a few assignments they had let slid and had to get caught up with at the end of the year. A few nudges from Mom and Dad and they were officially done. The school threw an end of the school year picnic which allowed students to get together and return books and other school supplies and have some fun doing it.

                    Experimentation with class scheduling: During the later part of the year we experimented with just doing multiple lessons in one subject for an entire day rather than in just one lesson a day. Cyber school allows that flexibility. It is a way that students can immerses themselves in a subject, really concentrate on it for a day maybe more before moving on to a new one. We found that for us it did not work as well as it did for other students.

                    Socialization: We found that it did take a little more effort on our part to work on socialization with the kids. Surprisingly not much. In our school district lunch periods are very short and recess is almost nonexistent. In the brick and mortar public schools so much effort is currently being funneled i to rote memorization to pass the "No Child Left Behind" tests needed to obtain funding something had to go. Time for in school socialization such as recess was deemed expendable. Plus we found that our kids had plenty other opportunities for social interaction via the internet, church, local community events, Boy Scouts and extracurricular classes such as martial arts.

                    Safety: I have to admit I was much happier knowing where our kids were and what they were doing in a relatively protected and secure environment. At our local elementary school there was what I feel was an issue with student safety. The school is used as a polling place for government elections which is fine. I do have a problem with having elections while school is in session. The doors of the school gym cannot be secured during elections due to fire codes. There is not sufficient Election Board staff and school security staff to ensure that someone does not slip through those unsecured doors into the school where young students are roaming the halls. The individuals at the local school board claim they cannot be held responsible for this as the date of the primary varies from year to year. The date is determined by Federal guidelines and state law it is calculated by a formula. If I remember correctly it is the second Tuesday in May during a regular election and the third Tuesday in a Presidential election. This simple formula has not changed in decades. I also have issue with local officials in charge of our children's education that are incapable of figuring out a word problem that would not strain an average third grader.

                    Cost: The day to day expense of Cyber Schooling a child is 30% less than a educating a child in brick and mortar schools. To this is tacked on a kick back of an additional 50% sent to the local school district the child lives in. This school district has done nothing to educate the child. So it actually costs taxpayers in my state more to educate a child via cyber school because of these kickbacks. We probably spent more for in home lunches. This expense was more than made up by the gas saved for not having to drive the children to school when they missed the bus. Not having to yell, badger and push kids out bed and out the door to catch the bus every morning: Priceless!!!

                    Summer School: I was not happy with the progress one of our children made in a second language class they were allowed to audit. I requested the school keep the class material online and allow us to keep the book for review this summer. This was not a problem. Flexibility is a nice thing.

                    Quality of Education: As I have posted above, the kids have had what I consider a good academic year with good teachers. I am more aware of what they are doing and am very pleased with the quick feedback and problem resolution when an issue has occurred.

                    Summary: We have had a good experience and we plan to continue with Cyber School next year. The children were given the option of returning to the brick and mortar school system. One seriously considered it but decided to stay with cyber schooling. One wants to stay with cyber schooling next year but switch to another state cyber school offering classes they are interested in which are not available in their current school.
                    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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                    • #11
                      Re: On line Cyber schooling for Children

                      Update:
                      Anyone who worries about socialization need not. This generation is so interconnected electronically and communicating with such speed that it's hard for me to grasp. The kids are passing their subjects and apparently have no desire to go back to regular school. The school year is 3/4 over and we are still pleased with the results.

                      However our local public school district appears to be feeling the heat of competition. They are now trying to put together their own version of an online school. I have a mental picture of them trying to plaster a brick and mortar school onto the internet. Tonight we received a robo-call from the local public school district inviting up to come out and see what wonderful facilities, etc. the local brick and mortar school has to offer. Well that's not going to happen.
                      We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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                      • #12
                        It has been a few years now and I thought another update was in order. One child stayed in online cyber school the other has chosen to go the brick and mortar rout. I asked the one who stayed in cyber school why the choice to stay? I was informed the teachers in the brick and mortar school were mean and unflexible. Getting up late was not an option, neither was working at the student's pace rather than the pace of the class. The occasional field trip with Mom to a ski slope, etc. does not hurt either. My other one prefers the structure the brick and mortar school offers. After doing the online option for two years the joint decision was made for that one to return to the local brick and mortar school.There was some adjustments. My son had to prove he was not a push over and I believe a right hook may have been involved.

                        All in all our experience with online cyber school has been a positive one. However, with tightening budgets there are fossils in the state government still at work trying to chip away at resources needed by cyber schools. I am not to concerned for the future of online schooling. The demand is increasing each year as more and more parents are turning to this option for their children's education. Fuel prices have remained somewhat stable for a while but, maintenance and replacement costs on vehicles and building continues to rise significantly. Even without a spike in fuel costs it is hard to argue against the per student educational cost savings of cyber school.
                        Last edited by Amish Country; June 26th, 2015, 05:20 PM.
                        We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

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