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Online course providers and virtual schools have researched the market thoroughly and are familiar with a broad range of products. Individual schools or districts cannot feasibly research the best practices in virtual academic solutions, but can tap into a resource of the people with the research based proven track record. Why reinvent the wheel and reproduce that intense effort for every small group of students?
Our programs are friendly to teachers and kind to students. We make everything as simplified as possible, with a minimum of clicking necessary before the lesson for the day is on the screen. Our content is customizable, created according to the principles of instructional design - resulting in a product that’s intuitive to users.
We are not looking for textbooks that have been placed online in PDF format. Instead, when we look at computer-based learning, we want a different excitable format.
Online courses offer unique opportunity for real time feedback, personalized instruction and learning paths, and tools such as multimedia and audio that engage learners and especially are helpful in reducing textual barriers to learning.
Each course has unique bells and whistles, however our first checkpoint is the educational standard. We ask, is material being presented according to best practices in education? Will students easily understand what is being taught, will they understand the logic, will they understand the phrasing of the questions in the assignments? Also we look carefully at the user interface and compare it to the grade level of the program. We check that young students will easily be able to progress through the lesson without getting stuck on ambiguous technicalities or screens that only advance if you know how to read complex instructions or choices.
Since our students all have unique needs, we carry a full course catalog in order to service everyone well. Special education students, visual learners, dyslexic or reading-challenged students - as well as gifted and talented students - all receive courses and materials suitable for their levels and optimal paces of study.
If individual schools wished to build this variety on their own, the costs would pose a hurdle. By contracting their educational technology services to Melamed Academy. schools have a low-risk, low-commitment entry into the growing world of virtual learning.
Religious schools have additional aspects to consider when selecting online courses. Their school board that reviews all paper textbooks carefully also wants to ensure that the computer-based material maintains the same exclusive moral standard. Melamed Academy, as a Torah institution, is sensitive to the needs of Orthodox Jewish schools, and only offers appropriate coursework to its students.
All curriculum meets national standards, and can also be customized to specific state standards.
Well, the first ingredient in educating students is to be passionate about reaching the children and helping them accomplish their potential, to help them reach their educational goals.
We started Melamed Academy because we wanted to join hands with the expert educators in traditional classrooms and the devoted parents of homeschoolers. We want to work with them, using our tools as another component in the learning process.
Of course, it's important that our teachers be technologically proficient. But, most importantly, they must be educators with vision who believe that every student has enormous potential. All we have to do is ignite the flame and the student will burst forth with an innate love of learning.
Online teachers receive practical education in creating a teacher-student bond that can reach across cyberspace. The teachers also receive in-service training in the curricular software and in the iNACOL recommended practices for online learning.
Every month, teachers receive professional development courses and have opportunities to consult with educational technology mentors.
As such, we go beyond the actual computer technicalities when training our teachers. We support by teaching our master teachers how their teaching skills can be reframed to the online medium.
Still, at the end of the day, it's about people connecting with people. That's always been what makes education a success!
Firstly, computer-based courses can serve as a valuable tool for the special education teacher, enabling individualized progression in a group setting. By adding a computer station into a special education classroom, the teacher can divide the class into different activities. While direct instruction is administered to one group, another group can be working on individually customized lessons on the computer. The computer can be utilized as another source of direct instruction, that can be reviewed as many times as needed. Assessments are another good use, because the data can be easily mined to discover many insights about the student’s skills, strengths, and areas needing extra support.
Also, the review games provide incentives to reward progress.
Melamed Academy successfully services many students with learning disabilities, by removing the roadblocks to their advancement. For example, in a traditional classroom, reading presents a barrier towards understanding history and science. Yet, with cutting-edge multimedia and audio-read-aloud, students can dive right into the subject material without delay.
As online learning grows in popularity, many states offer the option of online public schools. The quality of these schools varies.
Some curricular programs are enjoyable for students; others are cumbersome and outdated. An outdated program will involve many steps of clicking and scrolling before the student can access the textbook.
Also, many online public schools depend on the parent's involvement as a learning coach for an average of 5 hours a day. For example, a 2nd grader may have two pages of instruction for a Grammar lesson. The parent must read and explain the concepts and help the child access his assignment.
At Melamed Academy, every course is built from premium curricular materials designed specifically for computer screens. No need to flip pages in an e-book. Students click directly into their multimedia lessons, maximizing every minute of their study time.
Melamed Academy Elementary School courses are geared to young learners and new readers. Features such as blinking buttons and audio instructions ensure that students move smoothly along their lessons without the need for constant parental involvement. Also, Melamed Academy Elementary school students are not required to print assignments on a regular basis. We equip our Elementary school learners with a set of workbooks, so they can devote all their energies towards active learning!
Most importantly to the Torah-observant consumer, Melamed Academy courses meet high chinuch standards. All course material has been reviewed by Torah educators for suitability. The lessons also are coordinated with themes from the Jewish calendar.
Another point to consider: On state-provided virtual school programs, a student's name and contact information can be easily accessed by other students. Melamed Academy's private LMS (Learning Management System) ensures that our students will remain in a protected environment.
Melamed Academy tuition costs a small fraction of the prices at other online course providers and virtual schools. On the other end of the spectrum, it is true that many educational websites are freely available. However, there is a difference between an educational website and an online course, just like the difference between a textbook and a teacher-led class.
Educational websites are resources that can be used as elements of a course. Some websites are freely available, like Khan Academy; others require paid subscription. This is similar to public libraries which also offer resources at no cost. These resources are useful but do not replace the need for a course in which the student's mastery has been supervised and verified by a teacher.
A course at Melamed Academy includes instruction with knowledge checks to ensure the student's understanding. The lesson includes background and real life examples, with a robust selection of resources. Then the student proceeds to the exercises and applications. If the student answers incorrectly, he will receive hints and additional explanations.
After demonstrating and expanding their new knowledge in virtual labs, games, and activities, students demonstrate their mastery by taking quizzes.
All these steps are supervised by Melamed Academy's online teachers. Feedback is provided for writing assignments, and explanations are added for students having difficulty. The entire educational process is supervised, resulting in remarkable achievement and sustained student interest.
Some things you won't know until you try, and since Melamed Academy has such friendly prices - you won't be taking a huge risk! Seriously, there are certain prerequisite skills needed to succeed.
1) Computer Proficiency: Age appropriate computer skills are important. Younger students will need parental guidance in maneuvering their screen, mouse, and keyboard, and becoming familiar with new programs as they're added. Middle and High school students should be able to type and navigate web links and resources.
2) Computer Confidence: It's helpful if the student enjoys learning by exploration, and by trial and error. Are you willing to click on the link or arrow and discover where it takes you, or do you need step-by-step instruction and someone standing at your side? Our teachers are dedicated, but they won't be able to walk you through the software. You'll need to have someone else at your side, or be brave to go it alone.
3) Independent Learner: Online learning is best suited to a student who is self-directed and independent. It's not necessary to be a motivated student, because our online programs have been proven to increase motivation even in students who were asked to leave school due to their unruly behavior! (That's how they ended up trying out Melamed Academy!) The main thing is to evaluate your personality: do you depend on external cues to focus on your studies? Will you "feel" that a test is coming up even if you're the only one testing on that day? It's also important to be able to pace yourself and stick to your deadlines. Your online teacher will give you due dates but she won't peek in through your webcam to see how you spend your time!
4) Clear Communicator: It helps if you can express your questions and concerns clearly via email. (If you just say, 'it's not working', we won't really be able to help you....)
5) A Bit of Patience: Support issues are dealt with immediately, and are resolved as soon as possible. Some computer glitches may happen but we've never had a problem that couldn't be solved. Teacher support is provided too, but, remember, there are also other students in the class. Sometimes you'll receive an answer to your question right away. But if it's a bit complicated, you may have to wait until the next day for a detailed answer. In the meantime, utilize your resources to see if you can find an answer independently.
6) Realistic Level: The last piece of advice is to check with our academic counselor before enrolling in a course that may demand a certain amount of knowledge. For example, if you weren't good at Algebra, you may not want to enroll in Honors Physics. You can ask for a sample lesson or for a course description if you're having trouble making up your mind.
If you're already enrolled in a course, don't worry if you haven't thought about all these considerations. Learning experiences can come in many shapes and forms - and they always get us to a better place!
The market abounds with online curricular tools, with an array of publishers and also many freely available materials. It takes a bit of sifting to find the right programs suited to the student and the subject. There also exists a great difference between the various types of programs - the best ones combine sound educational theory with a great user interface, geared to the age of the students.
Dr. Ruben Puentedura, ph.D (http://www.hippasus.com) defined the SAMR model as an evaluation tool for online curricular software. S- substituting A-augmenting M-modifying R-redefining.
S: Substituting - Some online material may simply consist of a printed page uploaded as a pdf. The screen serves as a mere substitute for the paper.
A- Augmenting - Or, some online courses can be set up in a very linear format that dictates the student’s learning path without room for individualized expression. The student is enabled to learn in the place of his choice and at the pace that suits his style. Yet, the learning process follows a traditional classroom style, i.e. a list of tasks that the student executes in a linear fashion.
Both the S and A computer-based learning programs are enhancing and facilitating the learning process. They are valuable tools that bring education to a student who otherwise may not have a chance at school. But they are not transformative to his education. The horizons stretch farther, and virtual academic solutions encompass so much more potential. Luckily, many curricular providers have tapped into this flowing source to foster students’ critical thinking and creative process.
M: Modifying - Instead of memorizing scientific laws and accepting mathematical theorems, students are encouraged to see how they work and why they’re true. Software that allows students to interact, perform virtual lab experiments, and draw conclusions - encourage scientific exploration. Publishing tools offer students a venue for conveying their messages in 21st century language and screen presentation style, instead of paper essays.
R: Redefining - History books containing a single narrative of past events limit a student’s perception to a one-dimensional account - while wars and conflicts always have multiple agendas, and the opposing sides often both have some legitimacy in their stands. A quality online history course will present multiple sides to every issue, encourage debate and honest academic research by the students themselves. Instead of listening to the teacher’s lecture on the subject, the student will evaluate the positions and form their own evaluation on past and current issues.
In generations past, Americans were comfortable taking the position of moral high ground vis a vis the other world nations, confident in their status as a benevolent world power.
Today, globalization requires a different mindset. Every nation deserves respect for its traditions and views, and Western philosophies are no longer accepted as a workable solution for every social or global ill. Like, while free elections may work in United States, they prove disastrous in Egypt
Also, the English language is no longer dominant in world commerce. There will be an increasing need for students to study the language and culture of more countries, in order to function in the emerging business world.
Melamed Academy has researched the educational technology market and has tailored its courses to the best practices in online education. Our wide variety of curricular materials allows us to select the best course for a particular student and to substitute if needed.
At Melamed Academy, students are registering for a course - not a subscription to a program. We ensure that our students will gain from the remarkable learning tool called educational technology.
Melamed Kosher Chromebooks are part of our cloud-based school network. The kosher settings are controlled by our systems administrator. These settings cannot be altered by the student. Significantly, these settings apply wherever the device is used; at school, at home, or around the world.
Melamed Kosher technology settings include a combination of whitelisted sites, school-based email, and other unique safeguards that ensure the device is utilized according to the parents' and yeshiva's instructions to Melamed Academy.
After a student's term is completed at Melamed Academy, he is presented with a few options for using the device. If he will be taking another Melamed Academy course, the settings will be adjusted to include the new course material, without the need for the student's involvement. If the student does not plan on studying more courses, he can sell his Melamed Kosher Chromebooks to another student. Or he can continue using the device for other purposes with expanded kosher settings. Alternatively, the parent or yeshiva can contact Melamed Academy and arrange for the device to be removed from the network.
Melamed Academy's courses are studied online. The lessons, virtual sessions, and tests require a computer with a high-speed internet connection. Some assignments and reading materials can be downloaded for use when an internet connection isn't available.
All Melamed Academy courses can operate on a Windows or Mac desktop or laptop, with the Internet Explorer or Google Chrome browser. Many courses are also compatible with tablets. A list of websites and required plugins is provided for courses, upon request, so you can adjust your firewall settings.
Melamed Kosher Chromebooks are programmed to permit access to all educational resources needed for that student's course. Additionally, Melamed Kosher Chromebooks ensure that students receive kosher network settings without needing to hire any technical services.
Firstly, we'd like to clarify that Melamed Academy has the utmost respect and admiration for parents who have chosen to homeschool their children. This decision stems from amazing devotion and requires a high degree of commitment. Children who are homeschooled are receiving extra doses of parental love and attention throughout the day, and that is a definite advantage in their development. Additionally, there are many students whose needs can't be well served in a traditional classroom. By homeschooling, parents have set aside their personal time in order to concentrate on their children's academic success. These parents are dedicated educators whom we can only hope to emulate.
At the same time, we recognize that many parents are homeschooling due to lack of another suitable educational framework. Some families are situated in distant locales, far from a supportive Jewish community. Other families feel that day school tuition stretches their finances in an impossible way. Some children have suffered a traumatic school experience and are staying home for lack of alternative.
Even in cases where the parents wish to be their child's primary educators, they aren't necessarily best suited to teach every subject.
Another common homeschool scenario plays out when a dedicated mother finds herself teaching a one-room schoolhouse with disparate levels and ages.It's a challenge to keep the other children occupied while spending quality study time with one child at a time.
In many homeschool environments, Melamed Academy's virtual academic solutions can fill an important niche.
Melamed Academy doesn't have a certain agenda - we are here to support families in their educational direction. Parents can choose to enroll their children for an entire courseload or for single courses. Or, students can simply enroll for enrichment and receive their main course assignments from their homeschooling parent.
When parents enroll their child in Melamed Academy, they are assured of a supportive partner. Our online teachers are trained in evaluating learning disabilities and can work with students in mastering important reading and mathematical skills. Our programs provide structure and give students the satisfaction of meeting deadlines and goals.
Our staff involves parents in the learning process, and also takes direction from the parents - realizing that parents have the best understanding of their child's temperament and talents.
Working together, we can build worlds.
Today's generation of students snaps right into the computer environment - that part isn't a difficult adjustment. There definitely are certain personalities more suited to online learning. The computer is best mastered by people who are curious and not afraid of learning through experimenting - they'll push and see what happens. A personality that needs to have all their knowledge up front will find it harder to feel comfortable on the computer.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that everyone's learning curve is different. At the beginning, our online teachers demonstrate more patience and understanding with students who are still getting oriented.
As the school year progresses, students are expected to navigate the programs more smoothly. Still, we have a technical support team available every day to help out with any computer glitches. That's what we're here for!
Yes, Melamed Academy courses have been accepted for credit by leading High Schools and Yeshivos in the Torah community. State public schools have also accepted Melamed Academy courses as qualifying credit. Students planning on transferring credit to a specific institution are advised to verify the transfer credit prior to enrollment at Melamed Academy. For specific inquiries, contact your Melamed Academy academic advisor.
Elementary and Middle School students should allocate 3+ hours per day for their Melamed Academy coursework. High School students should designate 4+ hours per day. Exact times depend on the individual student's learning style, and on the complexity of the subjects being studied.
All parents of school children expect to be involved in their studies - even when the children attend traditional classroom-based school. Between getting the child to school on time, helping with homework, and listening to the child read his designated practice sheets - parents spend between half an hour to an hour per day, per child. Homeschooling one's child, even with an online course program, entails a significantly greater degree of parental supervision. That's important in order to compensate for the lack of formality inherent in a home-based education. At regular school, the bell rings, and students know they must arrive on time or face unpleasant consequences. Also, when children are in a school setting, there are myriad built-in stimuli reminding the students to do their homework and study for tests. They see visual reminders on the blackboard, and hear the buzz of their classmates discussing the assignments. A homeschooling parent should likewise create visual reminder which encourage students to focus on their lessons. Setting a designated room or desk for school work is helpful. It may also work to set an alarm as the "school bell". Goals for the day and the week should be clearly listed, and the child can check off the completed activities as he progresses. Often the child has a special situation necessitating the home schooling arrangement. Even so, it's important to set goals, albeit customized to the student's situation, in order to enjoy the satisfaction inherent in achievement when those goals are met.
Melamed Academy is a state-registered nonpublic school, entitled by law to grant high school diplomas in the State of New Jersey. Melamed Academy has verified with numerous colleges, including Touro, that Melamed students can present their diploma as proof of high school completion. In addition, Melamed students receive high quality SAT prep courses, so their scores will ensure all college's doors are open to them.
Virtual academic solutions belong to the newest generation of educational enhancements. It’s important that parents feel a part of their children’s education, and that they feel engaged in the learning process.
Schools find it beneficial to bring parents together for a presentation, followed by a question and answer question. During this time, the school can discuss the program, distribute printed handouts, and present samples of lessons from the planned online curriculum. Also, it’s important that parents attend, so expectations are well matched.
The human element remains the most important link in the learning process, and the computers are merely an updated tool. Difficult subjects will continue to require full concentration in order to be mastered. Students who struggled with distraction and disorganization, may not find the computer to be a magic solution since it merely transfers their impediment to a new medium! Therefore, it’s important that questions such as supervision and tracking, updates and customization, all be addressed.
A good online program will set achievement and tracking goals for the students and monitor advancement and mastery. Ideally, students should receive benchmark testing upon starting the program, and when completing major units, so mastery can be displayed. An established online learning school with a large variety of educational solutions is best equipped to service the diverse needs of a student body.
Both quantitative and qualitative factors are measured when evaluating the quality of implementation. Online courses provide rich data in terms of student achievement, tracking, standards mastery, and pass rates. Also by tracking the number of students who start and complete courses, and who advance to new levels - we can determine if the courses are well suited. We administer benchmark testing as pretests and post-course assessments, to verify mastery.
In terms of customer satisfaction, our expanding enrollment proves a growth in numbers. Word of mouth is our best advertisement, and many school groups and private students have enrolled based on a friend’s recommendation.
Because our program is utilized in schools, it undergoes a tremendous amount of peer review from educators. Principals and teachers can see the program in action, recommended tweaks for their specific students, and observe the students’ interaction with the program.
The feedback we receive from parents and students also helps us assess quality and suitability. As the curricular landscape of computer-based courses keeps growing, we continue to enhance our program and our students benefit from an updated and comprehensive course selection.
Every student is an individual, and a classroom teacher gearing her lessons to the elusive “middle of the class” is bound to have some struggling students and stragglers, as well as some bored and under stimulated students. The goal of all educational programs is to provide the setting that best facilitates the desired learning outcomes.
In the past eras, obedience and traditionalism were thought to be the valued learning outcomes of schools. Yet, today’s world demands a different skill set from its human talent in order to succeed. Rote jobs are increasingly being outsourced to developing countries, leaving Americans with the jobs requiring higher thinking skills, creative problem solving, collaboration, and confident communication. Even more, the platform for executing these skills will definitely be in the computer-based applications.
A virtual academic experience adds a unique dimension to every student’s schooling, merely by its setup. The student’s work and deadlines are clearly defined, yet his time management is his responsibility. Instead of showing up to class and sitting quietly, an online learner is actively engaged during the entire lesson. For some students, this entails an adjustment period while their teachers provide support and guidance. This real-world responsibility has increased the diligence of many formerly laid-back students. No longer can they blame their teacher for their gaps in comprehension or knowledge. The resources are at their fingertips, and they can choose to review them as many times as needed. All that remains is for the student to focus his concentration and invest the time needed to master the material. We have seen that as the bar is raised, the students’ performance lifts and their satisfaction with their school achivements grows.
Melamed Academy coursework is designed to be used by groups of students, even in a classroom setting. As such, many safeguards are utilized in order to ensure that students submit their own work, and that tests are an accurate portrayal of a student's mastery. Some of those methods cannot be publicly revealed, for obvious reasons! Other methods involve tests with randomized questions from a large question bank, so there are multiple variations of every test.
Also, most essay and report assignments are designed to express the student's individual opinions. Every student will write a unique essay according to an individual point of view. As such, the students' motivation remains high, and integrity issues are almost non-existent. Any violation or compromise in academic integrity results in serious consequences for the student, including a disqualification of the assignment, lowering of the course grade, or even dismissal from the course.
Yes, Melamed Academy courses have already been accepted by numerous accredited private schools in the Torah community, and have also qualified for credit at public schools. You can discuss the various options of using Melamed Academy course credit, in a consultation with a Melamed Academy representative.
Teacher salaries are the highest budget item at a Torah day school. Schools often struggle to find quality teachers at affordable rates. Compounding the cost, the schools also want to provide differentiated levels for courses such as Math, or to offer AP options to advanced students - but splitting the class is too expensive. Schools also wish to offer a variety of elective options that accommodates students' individual interests and career goals. At Melamed Academy, there is no overhead cost for your school. There is only a low per-student rate. Also, Melamed Academy courses are a complete packaged solution; without the need to purchase extras such as textbooks or software licenses for Technology courses.