Written by Alison Hancox, Principal @ Ignite Centre for eLearning
I am pleased to join the team as founding Principal at Ignite Centre for eLearning. I come to Ignite with 20+ years of experience in Alberta teaching and leading in the K-12 learning environment. Most of that experience has been in home education and online learning.
Many folks over the years have asked me how one makes a decision about home-based learning.
Here are some questions to consider:
What do you mean when you say home-based learning?
Do you mean home education with the parent acting as primary educator or a teacher instructing online following the Alberta Program of Studies? Read more about this here.
How do you decide which online program is best?
Consider whether you want live (synchronous) instruction or self-paced (asynchronous) instruction or a blend of both. What does the student time table and availability look like to meet with a teacher online? Does your student need the course completed over a semester or even sooner? Look for schools that offer the flexibility, and sometimes the structure, that will meet your student’s needs. Ignite offers live, self-paced, and a blend of the two. We offer flexibility to meet student timetabling needs, and structure through scheduled live instruction..
In elementary school and junior high, how do I balance the need for teacher instruction and not too much time in front of a screen?
Look for schools that offer a blend of live and self-paced learning.
At Ignite, teachers will model and instruct as part of the day and then give students the opportunity to move offline to complete projects that may be done outside or at the kitchen table. Teachers may work in full class groups, smaller project based cohorts, or individually throughout the day and week.
This way students are not online all day.
In high school, are you looking to enrol your child as a full-time student or as a concurrent student?
(Concurrent students are enrolled in one “main” school and taking courses at ANOTHER school).
If your student is going to be attending an online school full time, is there flexibility to take courses one or two at a time, instead of a traditional approach for scheduling 4 courses per semester?
Our recommendation based on research is that students take a maximum of two core courses at a time. Students can earn the equivalent number of credits by fast tracking a semestered course. In addition students can be earning credits in off campus programming such as work experience, Green Certificate, registered apprenticeships which takes them away from the computer while still earning highschool credits.
Is your concurrent student one who has time scheduled to take an additional course while attending their brick and mortar school?
Ideally the student will have what is called a “spare”on their timetable which can be dedicated daily and weekly time for successfully completing their online course. In this scenario, this student may need to be prepared to complete the course asynchronously with weekly scheduled time to meet with the teacher.
Students who meet teachers at least weekly have a tendency to complete the course and at higher levels of performance than those who do not.
How do I know if the school will be a good fit for my student?
In all grades (and in home education), I encourage parents to look at the ability to form a partnership with the student’s teacher.
At Ignite, the foundational instructional practice in all our programs and grades is building a teacher – student relationship that supports student learning. We want to know our students. We want to know their interests. We want to know their learning needs, their strengths, and how best we can build a program for them in which they will be successful.
We recognize that not all learning happens online. We use technology and the Internet as a way of connecting our teaching and learning community, for learning, collaborating, sharing and communicating. Our students may be completing a project offline or in the community and then sharing the accomplishments online with their teachers and classmates.
I had a student during the pandemic, who built a skateboard. His family and friends were so impressed he started building skateboards for others. The whole project led to starting a business. This is a perfect example of working with the highschool student to align their interests with an entrepreneurship course so they can earn credits for their highschool diploma.
As you are choosing a school and program that is best for your child?