Schooled in Streaming

An educational seismic shift that began in the late 1970s continues to grow, providing a unique opportunity for streaming product manufacturers and service providers.

In 1980, only three states (Utah, Ohio, and Nevada) officially recognized homeschooling as a legal alternative to traditional public or private schooling. By 2004, however, public sentiment and key court rulings had created homeschooling opportunities in all 50 states. As of September 2004, an estimated 2.2 million students in the U.S. were being homeschooled; that number is expected to double within six years, based on conservative annual growth estimates.

Several factors have contributed to the rise of homeschooling, but one that is often overlooked is the ability for parents of homeschoolers to easily access key educational materials online that less than 20 years ago were only available in select libraries.

Several companies, including several streaming providers, have taken advantage of this trend and are providing mass-market learning materials delivered via the Internet.

One streaming company actively involved in the homeschooling market is United Streaming. A product of Discovery Education, a division of parent company Discovery Communications, United Streaming hosts more than 40,000 video clips. United Streaming divides the site between traditional public and private school customers and homeschooling customers, going so far as to have two completely independent customer service locations for each of these distinct target markets. United Streaming also targets homeschooling families via direct mail brochures, touting access to all of United’s content for an annual fee of $199 per household.

Another company capitalizing on the growing homeschool market is YourOtherTeacher.com. Based in Arroyo Grande, California, and self-billed as an "online supplemental instruction company," YourOtherTeacher.com offers an array of educational instruction via streaming video as well as live one-on-one Web-based tutoring. Topics and tutorial lessons range from math and English to engineering, Spanish, and the California high school exit exam.

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