An Interview with Andy Harris - The Tech Homeschooler

Hello and blessings! Thank you for visiting The Homeschool Marm!

Today I have the privilege of hosting an interview with Andy Harris, author of the upcoming column - The Tech Homeschooler - which will be featured in the new interactive digital
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

Andy is a homeschool father, author, speaker, and senior lecturer of computer science at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Andy is also the author of several popular books in the "Dummies" series including:
HTML, XHTML & CSS All-In-One For Dummies, 2nd Edition, Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies, JavaScript and AJAX for Dummies, and HTML5 for Dummies Quick Reference.

Andy, along with his lovely wife Heather, and their four children (6, 9, 13, 14), make their home in the Indianapolis Metro area.

Hello Andy. How did you become interested in technology? Did you use computers and
tech items growing up?

Andy: My dad let me play with a teletype-based computer terminal in 1976.  I was
amazed.  My brother and I took the money we had saved for a car and bought a
used TRS-80 model one instead.

We couldn't afford software (and that machine didn't have disk drives any
way) so the only thing we could do with it is write our own programs.

What role do you think technology best serves in the homeschool?

Andy: That depends on the homeschool and the technology.  I don't really think
technology should be central.  The fundamentals of learning have happened
without computing technology for a long time. However, certain kinds of
technology can make a real difference for certain families at certain times.

If there's one computer in the house, it should belong to Mom. A home school
is an organization with many needs similar to small businesses. Word
processing, email, and spreadsheet applications are very handy for any
modern enterprise.

The Web is an incredible resource.  If you're talking about steam engines,
there's a good chance you'll be able to find more than one interactive model
you can play with on line.  It takes some discipline to use the web well,
but it can widen the scope of your school in ways that were unimaginable a
few years ago.

There is some educational software out there, but frankly most of it is
pretty terrible.  A few standout applications are available, especially
typing tutors and a few drill-and-practice games.

I'm a huge fan of simulations - using the computer and appropriate software
to explore ideas that would not normally be available. If your child is
interested in trains, look into a simulator that explores aspects of
building and managing a railroad.  If she's fascinated by fashion, there are
fascinating fashion business simulators available. There are simulators for
nearly everything.

I love the idea of teaching programming to those students who are ready for
it. Lots of kids are excited about being able to make their own video game.
Teach them how to do it, and along the way they're learning all kinds of
math and science. Computer programming can be a challenging subject to teach
(which is why it is all but abandoned by traditional public schools) but
with the right help, it can be done, and it can be one of the most enriching
experiences for some students.

Most forms of technology are one-person activities. How can families

balance their use of technology with togetherness?

Andy: Reading is a one-person activity, too. But people can read together, they
can both read the same book and discuss it, and a certain amount of
one-person activity can be a good thing.

Math is mainly a one-person activity too.  However, it is challenging enough
that people often need to work together to understand what is happening.

Besides, if you look at the trends in computing, it's now really becoming
about communication.  Kids are using technology primarily as a social tool -
to connect with people rather than to disconnect.  Most modern games have a
multi-player social aspect.  Like any other technology, balance is the key,
and that's why parents need to be involved in anything that is part of the
home environment.

Thank you Andy for sharing your wisdom and experience with us today! We look forward to hearing more from you in January 2012 in your new column - The Tech Homeschooler!

I am excited to host the monthly sidebar to Andy's column! Apps in Education will feature a wide range of educational apps that are useful for homeschooling families. Heidi Strawser and the TOS Homeschool Crew will join me in featuring new apps each month.

Have you heard the news?
The Old Schoolhouse® is releasing an app for the iPhone and iPad in the near future, and we are developing an app for the Android market! Currently you can read our digital magazine on both the iPhone and iPad through the web browser.

Our new app will allow the subscribers of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine to fully experience the rich functionality and dynamic media which is coming in January 2012 with the release of our interactive digital magazine! We are very excited and you can stay tuned to our Homeschooling with Heart blog and TOS Facebook page for updates!

Please be sure to check out all of the giveaways and freebies we are featuring on the Homeschooling with Heart blog during our Schoolhouse Birthday Bash!
Each day you can stop by to see all of the featured columnists and bloggers in the blog hop and enter to win our giveaways that we post each day!

Now I am pleased to share a giveaway for my readers!

Giveaway Time!
Today, we're giving away two great gifts from TOS. One winner will receive a one-year digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a second winner will receive a digital copy of the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner.

One-Year Digital Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

What do you look for as you homeschool? Motivation? A little encouragement? Perhaps a unit study? Maybe an art activity? Within each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® you’ll find amazing resources, candid interviews with business owners, glimpses into the routines of other homeschools, articles from the experts in homeschooling, as well as up-and-coming innovators helping our days run a little more smoothly. Find them all in our pages along with their insight, expertise, and honesty as we all homeschool together!

Along with your subscription, you'll receive free access to Teacher's Toolbox, our exclusive, subscribers-only website packed with daily recipes, "This Day in History" lessons, printables, unit studies, and more!

E-Book: The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner

Jump into a great year with The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner! Erase the frazzled feel of disorganization with the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner and bring order and efficiency to your school year. Packed with relevant articles, clever calendars, useful forms, handy lists and so much more, this planner is the key to meeting your many goals for the 2011-12 school year. We put our heart into the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner so you'll have more time to put your heart into your home. Click here to view sample pages from the Planner.

To enter, just a leave a comment here by midnight September 25, 2011! Winners will be randomly selected (using a random number generator) from the comments and will be notified via email.

Rules: Must be 18 or older to enter and provide a valid email address. TOS employees, contractors, product reviewers, and Crew members are not eligible to enter.


jenjoym said…
My husband loves anything tech and as our children get older, he is looking forward to teaching them about programming etc. I would love to win a copy of the planner as organizing is a bit of a challenge for me.
Anonymous said…
I am new to homeschool and have been searching for resources. would love to have this subscription or the planner. there is so much out there it is a bit overwhelming for a newbie. thanks.
Purplemom said…
I'm really looking forward to these article in the new TOS. There are so many conflicting opinions about the place of tech in homeschooling that these articles should start some wonderful conversations.
Anonymous said…
I'm the techie in the family, but I don't know that much! It's always great to learn more. I'd love to win a copy of the planner as I've been really trying to get more organized this year.

ihsj6k34 (at) att (dot) net
Tutor Finder said…
Personalized Schedule is one of the advantage of Home Education. Many parents feel that their kids work better at different times of the day than what a public or private school allows for. So, home schooling allows parents and children to work out a schedule that will best work for the child. Some children work best and learn best in the morning, noon, or evening, so being able to set the learning schedule up in a way that allows the child o succeed is definitely an advantage.