The schooling world changed the moment the COVID 19 school closures were announced. Almost every US state has had to immediately close schools, many for the rest of the academic year, majorly disrupting the public education system. The closures have affected close to 55 million public school students across the nation.
This has required school administrators and teachers to think differently about their approach to teaching. And children, the digital natives, have become independent in how they learn and acquire knowledge. This subsequently has resulted in the adoption of virtual learning methods, online learning and applications to keep children engaged at homes.
Several online learning platforms have responded to this need of keeping children engaged and are offering their programs for free or on discount to help children continue learning.
1. Scholastic Learn at Home
Scholastic is offering a free “Learn at Home” program offering daily courses for kids. Everyday, children are given lessons that include age-appropriate writing, reading, and enrichment programs. The programs are active learning journeys designed to reinforce and sustain educational opportunities for those students who are unable to attend school.
Outschool has been use for homeschooling and tutoring, and is offering classes worth $300,000 for free to children aged 3-18 through video chat. The classes cover topics in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Coding, Health and Wellness, Music, Art and World Languages. Kids can use the platform to learn Baking and Video Game Design.
3. Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers several free educational resources for kids and parents. Their offerings include practice exercises, instructional videos and personalized learning dashboards that show students their progress in learning subjects including math, science, computer programming, history, art history and economics from home. For those struggling with creating a daily schedule, the platform offers a detailed daily schedules for children aged 4-18.
4. Peanuts Worldwide
The company that gave us Snoopy and Charlie Brown has brought out educational material that kids can use to learn from home. The website now features material for children in kindergarten through to grade 8. Kids can learn STEM, language arts and social studies together with Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang. The peanut themed lesson plans aim to help parents and guardians create dynamic learning experiences that can inspire children’s minds.
5. New York City Department of Education
New York’s Department of Education released free supplementary learning resources for students. The materials focus on getting students to continue to read, write, do social studies and science activities and work on math problems. The material is grade-specific and includes daily study schedules, guides for instructional activities, recommendations of educational TV shows and links to books, magazines and websites that have content that appeals to children of all ages.
6. Comcast Xfinity Education
Comcast has made available nearly 2,000 hours of programming and thousands of free titles available to Xfinity video customers. This allows children and parents quick access to educational programming by grade level. subset of the education collection is also available on Xfinity Flex and across devices via the Xfinity Stream app and website.
7. Prodigy Math
Prodigy Math is an online math program that uses video game-styled lessons for children from first to eighth grade. Children can create their own avatars and conquer math challenges along the way. Parents/teachers can create an account for themselves to monitor the child’s progress.
8. Dictionary.com Learning at Home Center
Dictionary.com’s Learning at Home Center provides English lessons for students in grade pre-K to 12. The material created has been approved by teachers, which includes spellings, grammar, word challenges, as well as fun family activities and writing prompts.
9. Mystery Science
Mystery Science has a variety of science-related topics for kids in kindergarten through fifth grades and they’re offering a number of free memberships for a year. The platform provides video lessons on practical science, experiments and downloadable activities.
College students looking to study while off-campus, or simply anyone looking to further their education, can use OpenStax. The platform has free online homework products and openly licensed digital textbooks that are available to anyone, anywhere. The platform includes books in math, science, social studies and more.
Several other platforms are giving free access to their learning material, most of them teaching languages, music, art, theater, history, science and so on. This presents a great opportunity for children to learn how they can study independently and research more about the topics and subjects they’re learning.
This shift also presents a new challenge to teachers. As children are aware about the possibility of effective education with apps and virtual sessions, teachers can tap into this and teach their lessons creatively. This will effectively ease their jobs, give them more time and take education beyond the classroom. But it all depends on how teachers step up to this challenge and think of it as an opportunity to deliver excellence in education.