Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Advances in technology and integration with homeschooling


As I mentioned in my last post, we are using Classically-based educational methods to homeschool our children, and those methods are generally not in favor of using "screens" of any kind (such as TV, computers, etc.) as significant educational tools. Children absorb and retain more knowledge when they are actively thinking and reasoning (such as what happens when reading a book) rather than passively absorbing information (such as what happens when watching a TV program or movie). Be that as it may, there are definitely still times when we will use TV or computers to enhance educational experiences (not as substitute). There are too many programs that would be beneficial to educating our children to ignore TV, whether they be about saints lives, the Church, history, science, etc. The same goes for the internet, where there is an incredible amount of resources available to enhance education and teach research skills (though a tight reign will be kept on access to the internet, via passwords or other tools, for obvious reasons - in total I think internet is more dangerous to children's innocence and formation than it is helpful, unless proper controls are put in place).

In regard to the internet, the advent of such a ridiculous amount of information placed at the fingertips of any human being with internet access has fundamentally changed education in my opinion. And, it's hard to predict how new technologies and new uses of the internet will alter education in the future. I would love to have a picture of how we will use the internet in our homeschool 10 years from now, just to see how technology has opened up new opportunities. Below is one such example I recently came across. Watch the video and be amazed...

One can only imagine the possibilities for the technology he used to present an entire newspaper on the screen. Whole encyclopedias could be archived this way, not to mention books and other media (much easier to navigate and read than just computerized text on a screen that you have to scroll through, or click through). And regarding the technology applying people's photos on the internet ( of a specific location and creating a virtual 3D space, awesome! You have got to go to the Microsoft Live Labs page and try this out, it's called "Photosynth" (link here). One of their vitual test environments is St. Peter's in Rome! I loaded the software and was navigating around St. Peter's square, with the ability to see small details since each picture is loaded in its entirety (allowing zooming to fine detail). Every one of the tiny white dots below is a picture of an area of St. Peter's square that has been loaded into the environment and can be accessed by just moving the cursor over the dot. Click the picture to enlarge.
And navigation, zooming, loading, is all completely smooth. The applications to schooling in architecture, art, geography, etc. would be endless. Which is why I'm posting about this. Who knows what new technology will come up next year, or the year after that, or 10 years from now that will radically enhance home education? There's no way to plan for it (or design homeschooling areas for it), but its one of the main reasons I want a computer to be available in our home for education.

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