Because all our online classes are live and interactive, you will need to have some basic online media tools to effectively participate in our courses.
Additonally, most of our online classes are integrated with our in-person classes, so students online will potentially be interacting directly with the in-person class/students. Because of this we need everyone that is participating online to have basic equipment that will ensure that this interaction is possible without distraction for any others participating in the class sessions.
The equipment and tips below will also help improve any online calls that you might have for any other online needs, so investments here can help you in other areas as well.
The list below provides guidelines for the varoius items needed along with specific recommendations.
You will need to have a camera that is capable of producing high quality video images in the light available where you will be participating.
- Minimum: 720p resolution at 30fps (frames per second)
- Ideal: 1080p resolution at 30fps
- Exceptional: 4k resolution at 30fps
Although some cameras provide faster fames per second, sometimes 60pfs of faster, we don't recommend using that as it does not really help the quality of the online video (for classroom purposes) and can slow-down your computer to process that faster speed.
If your camera is not able to display your image due to low light, see the section on Lighting below.
Some recommended cameras:
Special note for classes requiring more than one camera
We have some classes that indicate that multiple cameras are required or strongly recommended for the course. This is due to the fact that the student will need to show both his or her face as well as some other device (electronic equipment, other devices, etc.). Additionally, having 2 cameras in any class where students are doing manual work (i.e. anything hand-written), will be a benefit to allow the student to easily 'show their work' in the class.
In this case the second camera does not necessarily need to be as high quality as the primary camera. This is because the camera can usually be set in a fixed position and provided with extra light. This might be a good use of an older web cam that isn't quite up to par with current standards, but can show a reasonable image.
For this we recommend an inexpensive web cam, mounted on a tripod or otherwise 'suspended' above the 'work area' (desk) with one or more lights (like a desk lamp) aimed directly at the work surface.
Some suggestions for equipment:
- any extra/old web cam you have at home
- if you don't have an extra one check at Goodwill or other resale shops (just make sure that they will work with your computer/operating system)
- you may have an old camera that can connect to your computer via USB cable
- If you have one at home use it, if not check at Goodwill or other resale shops - you can usually find them for around $10
- Camera Clip () these allow you to 'clip' any webcam or camera that has a threaded camera mount (most webcams today have these) to anything above the work surface
- Use a standard desklamp with a 150watt (or greater) equivalent LED light bulb
- NOTE: You can put a 150watt equivalent light bulb in a lamp that that has a 60-watt limit because the LED doesn't actually use 150watts
- If you don't have a desklamp check Goodwill or other resale shops (usually you can find them for around $10)
- Use a standard desklamp with a 150watt (or greater) equivalent LED light bulb
Additionally, you will need to have some software to manage switching between the two cameras. We recommend using OBS Studio. This software is free and works on any operating system. It has become the standard for most video podcasters (and the software that we use in our Online Media class).
Headphones / Ear buds
All students participating must have (and use) headphones or ear buds in class sessions. Using your computer's speakers will often result in feedback or an 'echo' effect and will distract from the class session.
If your computer has Bluetooth then we suggest using a bluetooth wireless device to prevent cords limiting the students movement during class.
The most important part of the decision process is to find ones that can be comfortably worn for the length of the class time (or multiple class times).
NOTE: We do NOT recommend any 'noise cancelling' headphones or ear buds. These use additional sound waves to 'cancel out' external noise. This introduces more audio levels into the students ears and can lead to hearing loss.
Students must also have a microphone other than the microphone built-into their laptop. Laptop microphones can produce poor quality audio and also introduce echo, making it hard to understand the student in a classroom setting.
Ideally the microphone would be placed directly onto the student to ensure the best sound quality.
The best way to do this is to purchase a 'headset', which come in two different styles:
- headphone-style headset - headphones for hearing and a 'boom' microphone for speaking
- wired earbud-style headset - earbuds for hearing and a microphone build into the cable
- earbuds with mic functionality - earbuds that can provide both listening and speaking functionality
(these are common for phones and are usually Bluetooth connected)
NOTE: Be sure to test these before planning to use them in class to make sure that your speach is clear
If your camera is not showing your face well, and the image is dark, you will likely need add more light to your face. You do NOT need to go out and purchase additional lighting equipment (unless you are in the Online Media class). You can just relocate yourself to be close to a south-facing window, or you can move a lamp behind the camera so that it shines light on your face. Usually a 100-150 watt equivalent light bulb will provide enough light for most web cams. If that doesn't work, try 2 lamps or increase the wattage of the light bulb.
If you are planning to participate in the Online Media class you can invest in an inexpensive 'ring light' that you can use for class as well as class projects. These often sell for under $30.
In order to participate effectively in our online live class sessions, you will need to have a 'high speed' connection. This means that you must ensure that your download AND your upload speeds are high speed. Here are some guidelines:
- Minimum suggested:
- Download: 10Mbps
- Upload: 5Mbps
We suggest that you actuall test your speeds and not rely on what your Internet service provider lists that they provide because these are usually their maximum speeds. You can test your upload and download speeds at: https://www.speedtest.net/
Be sure that you are not running any other Internet program on your computer or any other devices in your house when you do the test.
Is this all necessary?
Well, if you want to participate in a live, interactive class and have a chance at a good learing experience, then yes. If you just want to sit and passively watch, then no. However, be aware that if your technology is causing a distraction within our online class sessions, we will have to block you from actively participating until you resolve the issue. Focusing on technology issues will definitely distract you from the class as well. So we strongly encourage you to invest in good equipmpent so that you get the best experience from our online classes.
How can I be sure?
Although you can run tests between yourself and a remote friend (via a Zoom call, etc.), the best way to ensure that your gear works AND to even get some help fixing problems is to participate in one of our pre-class equipment test sessions. We run these a couple times before each semester begins. This allows you to test your equipment direclty with the online system that we will be using in class. And we'll have time to help you work through any issues you might have.
All registered students will receive an invite to these test sessions once they are schedule. So be sure to register for your class early so you don't miss the opportunity to participate in one of these test sessions.
And if you have any questions you can just use our Contact Us form on the web site to ask any tech questions you have.
If you know what career/degree that you want to pursue then you should go directly to our Pathway document for that area.
Click Here to view the Pathways we presently have available
If you don't know where you are headed, then we strongly recommend that you sign-up for the Career Exploration class.
You should begin planning your home school curriculum toward a career as soon as possible - even in grades 1-5.
By being directly involved in your child's education, you can help identify careers that might be appropriate for your child at an early age and expose them to study related to those fields. The earlier that you and your child identify possible careers, the less expensive a process it is to decide. If you wait until college (or even high school) to start identifying potential careers it will cost significnatly more with each year.
Late Elementary or Middle school is a great time to begin narrowing down a major field (i.e. trades, arts, technology, etc.). Then using your late middle-school and early high school to try courses in specific topics. Then your later high school years can allow specialized courses/training preparing for a degree in the field or training needed to jump directly into the workforce after high school.
We encourage you to take a Career Exploration course during middle school or early high school to help narrow the options.
We regularly offer a Career Exploration course specifically for this purpose. Check our Course list to see when the next one will be available.
Most of our classes are taught in a 90-min session once each week for 15 weeks per semester.
There are 4 differnent formats for most of our classes:
Live - In-Person
Most of our courses are made available in a live, in-person format at Mid-Metro Academy in St. Paul. This is the format that we recommend most as it is definitely the best learning environment for almost all students.
Live - On-Line-Hybrid
If you are unable to be present in-person we also offer many of our courses in an online-live format as a'hybrid' version of the in-person course where students participate via online means with the in-person course. The instructor will attempt to engage the on-line student similarly to the classroom students; however, technology limitations and the online nature can sometimes limit the effectiveness of this model.
Live - On-Line-Only
A few of our courses are offered in an online-only format. These classes meet at a designated time and day just like our previous courses; however, all of the class participants are online only with no in-person option.
Flexible - On-Line
A couple of our courses are available in a format where instruction sessions are provided in a recorded format and students can get assistance from the instructor at times throughout the week. This format is recommended only for older students (grades 10-12) and for courses where the student already has some familiarity with the field of the course.
The unique aspect of our courses are that they are taught live, with live interaction with the instructor (and other class members). At times we may offer some courses as an 'encore' course where we make available previous year's courses. We may also provide some classes in a pre-recorded format; however, our primary focus is on live-instructor/interactive courses.
No. All of our class sessions are recorded to allow students to review the materials presented and to catch-up if they have to miss a class.
Our instructors have a complete list of assignements for students throughout the semester. At varous points during the semester, at at the end of the semester, they will provide an update of the percentage of assignments completed as well as the quality of the work.Additionally individual instructors may provide a recommended grading scale; however, it is up to parents to determine the final grade.
As noted in the "Do you provide grades for the students" question, instructors do not assign grades. Additionally, they do not provide a specific grade card for the student. If you need an official record of course completed or a 'transcript' record, we can recommend various other services that will compile grades from various sources and consolidate them on a transcript for your student.
You will likely find online resources that cover the content that you are interested for a lesser amount and probably some that are even free. However, as they say, you get what you pay for.
Live Instructors and Students
All of our courses include a live instructor presenting courses in a timely manner. We generally don't provide courses that were recorded days, weeks or even years in advance. Our instructors present the material new each year and incorporate both a biblical worldview into the topics but also a current day conection to the subject matter.
Similarly, students will be interacting with other students in the class, not just via a chat session during the week (although we do have that), but also in a live manner during the class sessions.
Real Live Reviews of Work
In many other online programs if there is any sort of checking to see if the student learned the material it is often done by simple online, automated quiz. This might work in some fields of study but in the areas we focus it really doesn't provide an optimal learning experience.
In each of our courses a real live human will review all work submitted and will provide specific feedback about the work submitted and tips on how to improve the student's work.
This is crticial in several areas of study, especially in our tech areas.
We don't just schedule zoom meetings and follow-up with emails.
All of our courses use one of the most comonly used Learning Management Systems used by colleges and universities. This allows students to easily follow through each course and know exactly what is happening next. It also allows parents to plan and to review the work of their student throughout the semester. Additionally, all parents have full access to the course materials, allowing them to learn along side of the students.
Additionally, we provide all class participants with various means to interact with both instructors and other students throughout the week. This is done through private/secure communications platforms (not public, insecure social media channels) that help students as they work through the class assignments and protects against potential security and privacy risks.
Although we often to use zoom for our live sessions, we also use other technologies to create interactive class sessions.
We have an established withdrawal policy with a refund rate determined when you withdraw. Please see our Withdrawal Policy (under the About Us link above) for details.