Show Me the Way To Go
"How can you teach your children geometry or biology,
if you don't know the subject yourself?" This is one of
the seven deadly questions of the homeschool mother-in-law.
For years, our family has relied on "We'll get a tutor," or "We'll
take a community college course," or "We'll cross
that bridge when we come to it." Now, thanks to modern
technology, we can respond, "We can always use Ôdistance
HOMER, which stands for the Home Education Resource Network,
is an information service offered by a company called IMSATT.
For an hourly fee, students can take courses, chat with other
students, send electronic mail, or even play games. Designed
to run on newer personal computers, you'll need a 2400 baud
modem and either a standard Apple Macintosh, or a PC compatible
with a color VGA screen, a Microsoft-type mouse, a 40 MB hard
drive, and at least 640K of memory, running MS-DOS 3.2 or better.
Upon accessing the CDC computer,
a map of the United States appeared, surrounded by bright
blue menu buttons. I clicked on an arrow button, and a new
screen full of choices appeared, including "Cybis Courses," "Calvert Online," "Test
Preparation," "Games," "Bulletin Board
Files," and "Software Library."
I selected Cybis, and a new screen full of choices came up:
language arts, mathematics, and so on.
Cybis would not let me start right
in with lessons—I
had to take a placement test first. I worked through the unit
on high school geometry. Many of these questions referred to
line drawings, which appeared on the screen along with the
text. When I finished the pretest, I was assigned lessons on
those units that I failed. After working through each module,
I was allowed to go back and take the pretest again.
HOMER is intended to be an open
forum for any and all accredited educational software, and
will soon have the Calvert program. In addition, Harcourt-Brace
has signed a contract to bring material on-line. All of these
are high-quality secular curricula. Other curricula may soon
be available, if publishers are willing to convert their
courses into "courseware" for the
distance learning market.
A trial kit is available, which allows families to try the
system for several hours for a very modest price. Most families
can access HOMER with a local telephone call. You can contact
IMSATT at (703) 533-7500, or write to 105 West Broad St., Falls
Church, VA 22046, for their brochure and/or their trial kit.#
Scott Somerville is a lawyer who defends homeschoolers' rights
through the Home School Legal Defense Association, www.hslda.org.