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Information and Q & A about How This Site Works

After considerable research and planning, the SWIHE Steering Committee is pleased to announce a communications hub and web portal for homeschooling families in our area.

The SWIHE Steering Committee gratefully acknowledges that the Yahoo email list and, most importantly, those volunteers who have maintained and administered it, have served the local homeschool community faithfully and well.  We believe that this new web portal will build on that solid foundation and that it will go even further to facilitate communication and encouragement as well as foster even greater community for local home educators

On this page we will explain the features we have in the new site, how this is different (better!) than the previous Yahoo announcements, and then explain how you can sign up. Finally, I'll answer some of the questions that our beta testers have raised in the last couple of months.

Here is what we get with the new www.swihe.org

  • Both public and private, subscribers-only, pages
  • A private calendar where co-op leaders and homeschool families can post their events only to registered homeschool families, with the option of putting individual events on the public calendar
  • Optional online sign-up for events you organize with payments to you through PayPal
  • Discussion forums on the subscribers-only pages
  • Optional private discussion forums for designated co-ops
  • Classified ads where you can sell your stuff or services
  • A private family directory with optional participation
  • A photo gallery for families and co-ops
  • Optional private family websites
  • Oodles of tools to help co-op leaders handle registrations
  • and more

This  site replaces our previous email announcements because it does the announcements for us.  Once a week the system will automatically compile an email of all additions and changes to www.swihe.org.  If someone posts a News and Discussion post with an announcement, the header for that announcement automatically goes into the email.  If someone listed a Saxon math book (or their car) in the Classifieds, the header for that ad goes into the email.  If new Links are posted, or if articles and pages are added to the site a short notice about them also goes into the email.  If CHOICE or Praise Ensembles or TRIPS puts up a page for their co-op, or if Veritas puts up a registration form, then notices about those site changes will also go into the email.  Plus, the weekly update will list, with details, all the Calendar items scheduled for the next 14 days.

SWIHE sees several advantages to using this system.

  • Subscribers will be able to get announcements posted to the group in a more timely manner.
  • The Weekly Update Email will publish the announcements in digest form for quick reading.  You can access details for any you are interested in by clicking the direct link and logging in.
  • The email will post at a consistent time on a consistent day: early on Monday morning.  You no longer need to worry whether or not your announcement will post on time.
  • In addition to the Weekly Update Email, you get to choose how much and how frequently you will receive email from SWIHE. Automatic email updates can be sent daily, or weekly, or not at all. Want a digest of the day's discussions? Sure. Prefer to get complete Classified ad information immediately after it is posted? Yes, if you choose. Can't stand clutter in your inbox? Then stick with just the one weekly update.
  • You can put graphics and formatting and photos in your calendar event descriptions and they will go into the email.

We think that this web portal will make your jobs easier as homeschoolers.  It will facilitate networking among homeschoolers,  remove some bottle-necks in the flow of information, and give tools to co-op leaders.  To get these benefits, you will need to sign up.

You must register before you can access the private site or receive the new weekly email updates.  SWIHE has contracted with Homeschool-Life.com™ for this service.  The annual subscription cost to each family who signs up will be $7.00.

To sign up, click on the option for Request Private Access.  You will see a questionnaire to fill out.

Questions and Answers

Before you sign up, read these questions that we explored as support group leaders and former SWIHE Steering Committee members beta tested the site. By far, most of their questions pertained to privacy and security, so let's address the others first and then spend some time with the privacy/security questions.

General Questions

Do I have to register to be a member of SWIHE?

No.  Some SWIHE members may choose not to participate in the private portion of the website.  But only those who do subscribe may use the SWIHE discount code from HSLDA.

What about News from the Homefront?  Do I need both subscriptions?

No.  This web portal will replace News from the Homefront.

Ok, I've seen Internet forums and they are pretty nasty.  Won't forums need a moderator?

On most Internet forums the participants are anonymous.  We won't be.  We know one another in real life, we go to church together, our kids play together.  So, we think that our homeschoolers are able to be civil with one another on the Internet.  But, if it becomes necessary, the forums can be moderated.  And, if necessary, participants can be banned from the forums or have their website access rescinded.  If you see anything on the website that is inappropriate, please let an administrator know.

I'm a co-op leader.  How can I put up a page?

Contact webmaster@swihe.org.

I'm a co-op leader.  How can I get one of those private Forums for my group?

Contact webmaster@swihe.org.

I'm not a homeschooler, but I receive the Yahoo email announcements.  What about me?

You are welcome to access the Public calendar, and Public announcements.  Plus, if you have a homeschooling friend, they can post a classified ad or announcement for you.  But, your friend may not forward the Weekly Email Update to you as that will violate our Terms of Service.  

I'm a former homeschooler, but I'm still involved in homeschool events.  What about me?

We are still ironing out the details on this, and may need to go on a case by case basis until we can set some guidelines.  There is a box on the registration form to talk to the administrators.  Describe your situation there.

I have a business that targets homeschoolers.  How can I advertise to you all?

We are looking at selling advertising on the site itself.  Contact president@swihe.org if you are interested in that.  Or, if you have a satisfied customer who has a subscription, your satisfied customer can post an announcement or event or classified ad on your behalf.

I want to advertise an event to homeschoolers, but I don't want the whole world to know.

Calendar information has three levels of security.  Items on the calendar can be designated for 1) the public calendar, or 2) for the private calendar only.  Plus, 3) SWIHE has an additional option to list the event on the public calendar but to reserve the  Location and Description information for the private calendar only.  This lets us advertise opportunities, while at the same time keeping the details of those opportunities from strangers in the general public.

But I don't have PayPal.  How can I pay?

You may mail your check or money order to the SWIHE Treasurer, Shannon Ash, 8144 N SR 161, Gentryville, IN 47537.

 
Privacy and Security Questions

OK, I love the site, am excited about the features, but what about privacy and security?

I'm glad you asked!  Homeschool-Life.com (HSL) is a service built by a homeschool dad for homeschoolers.  They think like homeschoolers think.  Privacy and security are top concerns for this company.

How has Homeschool-Life.com™ addressed privacy?

HSL provides two levels of viewing the SWIHE website.  One is for the general public and the other is  for SWIHE subscribers only.  The pages listed as "Public Pages" are for the general public.  Yes, anyone in the world can go there.  However, they cannot see any of your personal information on any of those pages.  Your information will be seen only by SWIHE administrators and the four guys who run this web business.  If you choose, you can also make your information accessible to registered subscribers of SWIHE's website

Does Homeschool-Life have a privacy policy?

Yes.  It is here.   

What type of security does Homeschool-Life provide for their database?

Lots.  This article explains the nitty-gritty.  

If HSL is so interested in privacy, why do they use cookies?

The short answer is that cookies are the only way to have a secure login.  When you close your browser, the cookie will not be saved.  No personal information, not even your username, are stored in the cookies.  A more technical answer is here.

If I make an individual family web page, who can see it?

Only those with access to the private side of the site can see it.  If you want Grandma or out-of-town friends to see your webpage, you can set up a password to allow that when you set up your page. However, Grandma can not get to anything else in the SWIHE private pages except your family's page.  Creating a family webpage is optional. 

I'm not sure I want to put my name and address in a family directory.

Participating in the Family Directory is optional.  During registration you will have the option to answer "no" to a question about having your family information in the subscribers' on-line directory.  If you want your name listed but not address and phone, then simply put NA as the answer to those questions.  You can always go back and update your profile if you change your mind. 

Is there any good reason to be listed in the Family Directory?

Networking.  Being listed helps others find and connect with you.  But it is optional.

What if someone downloads the Family Directory and transfer it or sells it?

Before you are granted access to the private pages, you'll have to agree to "Terms of Service" and agree not to do that and more.  And, yes  we know that won't stop unscrupulous people.  You weigh the risk for your situation.  Your family may decide that the potential benefit of networking with local homeschoolers is more than the potential risk.  If you don't like the risk, then keep your family's name off the directory, or put NA in the questions that seem too risky.

Who owns the information that is uploaded?

Either SWIHE or the individual family.  HSL has specifically said that they do not own the information on the site.

Yikes!  Gadzooks!  Why are you asking for all that information?

Networking.  (I keep saying that, don't I?)  This will help you connect with others using your same curriculum or living in your neighborhood.  But, as before, if you don't like a question, leave it blank (or if it is required, list NA.)

If we won't register our homeschool with the state, why would we register it here?

We aren't an authority that you are reporting to.  We are friends with one another, and we want to use a tool that will help us support and encourage one another.  We want to participate and network with like-minded families in our area, many of whom are already friends, and  with whom our children interact.

Some families have listed their phone number on the public side of the site!  Isn't privacy important to you people???

We have to balance privacy with the opportunity for ministry.  For years and years, homeschool families have voluntarily listed personal contact information on public newsletters, websites, and bulletin boards.  They have done it so that families who need help have someone to contact.  Yes, it's a risk.  But other families in SW Indiana have done it in the past.  It's our turn.

I just don't want to put my children's names on the internet.

Then please don't!  There is no place that children's information is required. You can leave it off entirely, or you can list children on your profile but leave them off the Family Directory.  If you list it voluntarily, then others will have an easier time networking with you.  But that listing is certainly optional.

How will you know that people who sign up are homeschoolers?

Oooh, good question!  Mostly, we will look for a personal connection.   During the registration you will be asked to name one to three homeschoolers who know you—someone who can vouch for you if none of the administrators know you personally.  So, at first, there might be a delay in getting you approved while we confirm your homeschool status.  

It is our heartfelt desire to serve you through this website, to be a better support organization to the community, and, above all, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in this endeavor.  We thank you for your patience during this transition period and sincerely hope that you will take advantage of the free subscription we are able to offer you for this upcoming school year.

 

The SWIHE Steering Committee