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Using the WWW to connect, create, to learn...
Susan Richman, 5/17/2010

[Reprinted from Issue 103, Summer 2008, of the PA Homeschoolers newsletter]

I still remember the summer when my boys were just 6 and 3—and Molly was soon to arrive, back in 1983. My husband Howard had proudly brought home a computer for the summer on loan from the public school where he worked then as a reading specialist, and he was planning on learning how to program learning games and more on it. At that time I saw computers as basically being ‘pacman’ games that cost $1000, and I couldn’t see any reason why I would ever want to use one.

But soon we too had one—an ancient ‘portable’ computer with a black and white screen the size of a filing card. Howard wrote his doctoral thesis on this clumsy little machine (and he still insists we keep it up in our cluttered attic, as it may be ‘worth something’ one day!). I’d heard rumors that some folks predicted that soon people would be able to order their groceries through their computers, but none of us then imagined the Internet and the wealth of educational riches it would bring. I was still resisting even typing on the thing, claiming that I could only think when using a pencil and crossing out and marking arrows on real paper. I actually had a team of typists all across PA—I’d mail them handwritten articles and letters that folks had sent in for publishing in PA Homeschoolers. These busy homeschool moms would then type the pieces up single-spaced, and mail them back to me, and I’d literally ‘cut and paste’ with scissors and glue sticks and cobble together the newsletter. How times have changed—and how homeschooling for almost everyone has changed as we’ve all learned to integrate computers and the Internet into our learning lives!

Today I only write by hand if under duress—and my own kids are pretty similar (and they all type much faster then me—and my younger ones insist that they truly gained speed in typing when IM’ing their friends!). I don’t order my groceries by Internet (usually!)— but I order just about everything else online, and most especially books. And of course I’m now teaching an online website-based AP US History course, along with a whole team of teachers working with us on this Pennsylvania Homeschoolers AP Online project. We’re no longer cobbling together a newsletter through our typewriters-- we’re now working cooperatively to help homeschool families from all over the nation gain access to advanced learning, creating a true learning community for these bright teens. I never would have imagined this possibility 20 years ago.

Who says the Internet keeps people dis-connected?


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