NewSchools Venture Fund offers line of online resources

Considering the abundance of online education resources available, any one article that intends to compile them is likely to be incomplete. For a broader look, staff at NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit philanthropy organization, have developed a list of online learning resources that offers more than 40 options across learning content and curricula, teaching tools and guides.

MOOCs can offer students chances at unique opportunities

Massive open online courses, also called MOOCs, offer students the chance to try their hand at many subjects from robotics to philosophy alongside hundreds or even thousands of classmates. Certificate and noncertificate courses are offered, some free, making MOOCs a low-risk way for students to explore areas of interest. These courses can also offer a preview of college rigor. “Students get a firsthand glimpse of what the courses look and feel like, what the quality is like,” Jason Ruckert, vice chancellor and chief digital learning officer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Worldwide, told U.S. News in 2019. Popular MOOC platforms include Coursera, edX and Future Learn.

Social media: The platform, used properly, can be a great guide for discovery

Teens may be notorious for wasting time on Twitter or TikTok, but don’t discount the learning potential of social media. “Social media can be a great place for guided discovery,” Angela Arnold, general manager of OverDrive Education, wrote in an email. She encourages families to follow “famous scholars, authors, other teachers, museums or global learning partners” such as National Geographic or NASA on social media. Pinterest can also be a good place for finding lesson plans and learning exercises, she adds. Social media, done right, can help teach students privacy, online etiquette and digital citizenship, she says. “When parents and children search together, they can make it a safe space and tackle challenges as they arise.”

Foreign languages: Learning aps and websites may ease the pain

While parents may be able to work with their student to answer a question about history or solve a math problem, foreign languages could be a little more challenging. Language learning apps and websites may help ease that challenge for families. One such app is Duolingo, which offers both free and paid versions. Rosetta Stone is another popular language learning tool. Though typically a paid product, Rosetta Stone is offering three months of free online language instruction for students who are homeschooled or whose schools were closed due to the coronavirus.

NASA: STEM is the core of the agency’s mission, and the website offers unique insight

Science, technology, engineering and math – often abbreviated as STEM – is at the core of NASA’s mission. The NASA STEM Engagement site offers hands-on activities for students of all ages, broken down by grade levels. Students can build an edible spacecraft, train like an astronaut or build a rocket that can be launched from their own backyard. According to the NASA website, the commitment to STEM is to help educate students who can one day contribute to the workforce: “The intended outcome is a generation prepared to code, calculate, design, and discover its way to a new era of American innovation.”

Smithsonian: There is no substitute for virtual field trips

They’re no substitute for being there, but virtual field trips can help students explore inspiring worlds. Though Smithsonian museums are closed due to the public safety concerns around COVID-19, virtual tours are available of many museums and the National Zoological Park. New distance learning resources from the Smithsonian are also available online. “The Smithsonian should have a prominent place in every classroom and home in America,” Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch said in a news release. “Whether during the course of everyday learning or in a crisis like this, parents, teachers and students can rely on the Smithsonian’s wealth of expertise and knowledge that is available for free at the click of a mouse.”

Scholastic: Education publisher also offering remote learning

Scholastic, a publisher of books, literacy curricula and classroom magazines, is also offering remote learning options. According to its website, Scholastic’s Learn at Home hub is offering “20 days’ worth of active learning journeys designed to reinforce and sustain educational opportunities for those students who are unable to attend school.” The website describes available materials for grades pre-K through ninth grade as “day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.”

National Education Association: Parents can receive insight directly from the professionals

Need tips from teachers at home? Parents can get insight straight from the professionals with curated resources such as webinars on remote instruction and practical advice for teaching online offered by the National Education Association. The advice offered by the teachers union applies to both instructors and parents who suddenly find themselves occupying that role. “Let your child try to solve their problems but be there to help if they get stuck,” Jacqui Murray, a longtime online and traditional classroom instructor, writes for NEA. She also encourages students to use virtual meeting programs to confer with teachers as needed.

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