Gaining hands-on, practical experience with technology is critical for building the majority of careers: here are some tech teaching tips for everyone, including those who homeschool
When I graduated from high school in 1994, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career, and I had not even considered education beyond high school. Worse than that, I had no technical expertise at all. My plan was to play professional football or baseball.
After taking a couple years off to serve a two-year religious mission in Canada, I returned home to the reality that I would need to figure out how to provide for myself and my future family. I got advice from lots of different people. Much of that advice centered on the need to learn how to use computers and the importance of developing technical skills.
In 1997, I applied for and was accepted into Snow College in central Utah, where I was planning to walk-on and play football. Football camp started three weeks before the school year officially started.
Instead of just being at the school playing football during that period, I took advantage of the opportunity to take an introduction to programming class that was offered at the school. Over the next three weeks, I found myself very much over my head learning about object oriented programming using C++, but I was also intrigued enough with what I was learning that I decided to continue studying computer science and C++ when the school season started.
Over the next two years, I learned how to program well enough to get a job as a developer. I later learned how to write code in Java on the job as the lead developer for one of the first applications ever to interact with text messaging inputs. My career path at that time seemed very committed to software development, which had me en route to a salary of over $100,000 if I kept my pace for the following five years or so.
But my career path changed when I came across some opportunities for doing ecommerce with eBay and building websites. Instead of being heads down coding, I built several online stores and drop-shipped products.
Along the way, I got married and started having kids. My wife and I have been careful to ensure that we’re assertive about helping our kids achieve their respective potentials in all areas of life. We love the challenge of playing sports and developing athleticism. Our boys all play baseball and other sports. Our girls do gymnastics and other physical activities.
We also love music, so each of our kids plays at least one instrument along with learning the piano. We also have them developing their voices. Each of these endeavors is practical. We integrate them into our homeschool curriculum and set goals for our kids around sports and music.
Something else that is very practical and rewarding is using technology with our homeschool program. Not only is technology stimulating for the mind, gaining hands-on, practical experience with technology is critical for building the majority of careers that are available or that will become available in the next couple decades.
Here are some examples of how we integrate technology into the homeschool routines of our children. Those who are familiar with homeschooling know that it tends to be unstructured and highly customisable, two features of that kind of education that make it possible to include these types of technology, but at the same time demanding discipline to fully develop the skills necessary to master these things.
Graphic design with Photoshop/Illustrator
Each of our children has access to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and they each learn at least the basics of how to use those programs, including optimising images for the web, photo editing, creating logos and other images, and doing a host
Building websites with WordPress
My wife and I have built our financial career by publishing content on WordPress websites and selling products. Our children have followed our lead, building businesses in their areas of interest.
Learning Search Engine Optimisation
A major aspect of building their online businesses has been learning how search engines (i.e. Google) work. They’ve had the chance to understand how Google indexes the internet and organises it into a searchable database. The ongoing instruction (including testing and re-testing content, getting pages to rank and attract traffic) has been very useful for education as well as for earning money.
Using AI for content
Several of my kids have begun to use ChatGPT and Jasper.ai on a consistent basis to help them write article outlines and segments of articles, to create YouTube scripts, and to answer questions for them about things they’re researching.
We’ve been careful to ensure that they don’t have those technologies take over their ability to write and use their own intelligence. AI is clearly becoming more a part of the technology and social landscape of civilisation. Learning how to use it appropriately can be done in a practical setting, such as building businesses and pursuing education.
Music and video production software
After having the opportunity to participate in the recording of a song and accompanying video for a church activity, my daughter decided to make her own video. She recorded her voice along with various tracks of guitar, piano, banjo, and violin, and overlaid them into a song using Logic Pro X. She then made the song into a video by recording scenes and using InVideo to put them together. That video has done surprisingly well, attracting over 10,000 views in the first month of being published on YouTube.
Building YouTube channels
My kids have built several YouTube channels using the skills they’ve developed for graphic design on Adobe Illustrator, and with ChatGPT and InVideo. Two of my younger boys have a channel about animals called “Animal Chanimal”. My oldest son has a YouTube channel (“Robbins Airsoft”) focused on the game of airsoft. My daughter has a channel (“Maylee Robbins Music”) on which she is publishing the music videos she records.
I hope these examples motivate you to use technology in homeschool and other education curriculum for young students. The examples I shared are only a few of the ways that our kids benefit from the use of technology to develop skills and become educated.