Friday, August 22, 2008

Kindergarten Goes Virtual

by Dian Schaffhauser

Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania will be continuing its Virtual Kindergarten program this year at one of its elementary schools after piloting it during 2007-2008. The program uses Wimba Classroom, a suite of virtual classroom services that include audio, video, application sharing, and content display; and Wimba Voice, which allows the teacher to embed audio, including voice, into a Web page.

The idea of the Virtual Kindergarten is to support and enrich the half-day in-person program and increase parent involvement in their child's education. Goals for the kids include teaching students about online safety and digital citizenship and to build on the technology skills the students already possess when they arrive at school.

Managed by one teacher with experience in distance learning and video production, parents have to opt in to obtain a parent email account. Registration also puts them on the list to receive "Virtual K" announcements with details about weekly extra-curricular activities. The only technical requirement for parents is having a computer with fast Internet access to accommodate video and podcasting.

The virtual school includes interactive lessons to augment literacy, numeracy, technology, and science standards, as well as individual lessons that cater to a specific child's needs. Lessons during the 2007-2008 school year included a dinosaur counting game, story reading, and number counting practice. The site provides links to other online resources for the activities that students and their parents participate in.


Anonymous said...

Virtual Kindergarten sounds very interesting, but I foresee couple of issues with this type of environment, one would be the personal interaction with teacher-student or student-student, the face to face aspect of this interaction is missing. It will very hard for a child to be expressive on the computer, also, how about those families that can not afford a computer, or have to work long hours and can not attend to their children’s education. I remember myself as a parent, I could not wait for my child turn to the age to go to Kindergarten and school so that work longer hours or can decrease the childcare prices.

Yes it offers children great exposure to technology, in which they will when they go to elementary, or high school, but as we try to control the web environment that our children are expose to, how can a parent manage controlling a child in kindergarten that may access a site in error?

Maryam m

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Kelly Gibson said...

Taking Kindergarten virtual does not sounds good, because toddlers need teacher help continuously. If you take the virtually they never able to learn better as they need to learn.

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