Cautions About Buying Online Educational Materials

When the Internet first materialized from the ether and teachers discovered its potential as a research and educational tool, it became a teacher responsibility to educate students on the “Good, Bad, and the Ugly” of the Internet. Even today, students still have difficulty discerning fact from just plain garbage on the Internet. They still believe that everything they read there is TRUE. Now I am discovering that many adults have the same trouble. My biggest concern with this is in the area of educational materials.In the real world, most people still feel that teachers should be held to a higher standard and that schools should be “doing right” by their child. Parents are quick to complain if something goes wrong. Teachers today have to be fingerprinted and go through extensive background checks–even teachers who have had perfect records for 30 years.At the same time, parents are buying “educational materials” from the Internet with just the assumption that these materials are appropriate for their child and are correct. Parents are also reading articles and looking at websites and accepting that what they are reading is fact without doing any research of the topic or checking into the background of the author.I recently read an article about becoming a psychologist. Since I have a degree in Psychology, I was interested in what the author had to say. I was shocked to see him write that you can become a psychologist with a 2-year Associates degree. This is simply NOT TRUE! His article ended with a link to a site pushing Psychology programs. It was not his site-he had misread some of the information from the site-and he is not a Psychologist himself. I suspect he has no Psychology training at all.I read a large number of tutoring articles all written by the same person. He had terrible grammar and spelling (he needed a tutor) and some of his articles contained information that was inaccurate. Surprise! Every article ended with a link to an online tutoring site.I don’t have trouble with the concept of using articles to drive traffic to a site to sell products like eBooks on how to get you ex back or how to market an online business or search engine optimization. You, the buyer, realize these sites and/or authors have a vested interest in getting you to buy their product. The important issue is that if you get taken for a ride, only YOU suffer the consequences.This is not the case for educational materials being purchased by parents for their children. If parents buy materials that are not produced by educators, are not based on sound educational practices, or are actually bad materials, it is the CHILD who will suffer the consequences. What you do to yourself is your business, but what you do to a child is everyone’s business. Online educational sites and materials need to be held to that higher standard. Parents need to know that the producers of these materials are “up to date” with their knowledge and can be trusted.A few years ago, when the home-schooling movement began to grow quickly, there was an increased demand for materials they could use. The Internet is now “littered” with sites trying to make a buck off this demand. Typical worksheets are easy, quick, and cheap to produce. But just because someone can type two columns of addition problems doesn’t make the worksheet good for your child. Current science is showing us that worksheets are contrary to the way the brain learns. I have found virtually no websites offering worksheets that are actually good for children. Many sites don’t show examples of their material so you don’t even know what you will be getting.I realize that many people are still going to purchase worksheets and/or other educational materials online for the convenience. For your child’s sake, do research before you buy. Know who is writing the material (is their background in education?), why they are writing it (for a positive impact on your child or to make a buck?), what they are writing (that you can see it and evaluate it), and whether it is brain-friendly. You probably need to research this concept, but at the very least: (1) have lots of color, (2) have many different activities, (3) involve some physical activity, and (4) have NO SKILL AND DRILL! (That’s lists of similar problems.)Remember: (1) Educational materials should be held to a higher standard, and (2) there are much better (for your child) and more effective ways to teach your children. The vast majority of these educational materials are unnecessary. Don’t waste your money.