8 Distance Learning Tools and a Few Tips Parents Need to Be Aware Of
48 of the United State’s 50 states ordered or recommended that schools remain closed this academic year. If you have a child, that’s no surprise to you seeing as how you’ve likely had them learning at home since March of 2020.
It has been an exercise in patience for just about everyone to deal with restrictions that have come into effect due to government decisions pertaining to COVID-19. Perhaps most of all, kids have had to take deep breaths while trying to make do with their harrowing routine changes, lack of social interaction, and reliance on distance learning tools. All, mind you, while being expected to maintain acceptable marks in school.
If that has been hard for your child and you’re not sure how best to support them, keep reading. In this post, our team shares some of the best digital resources/ideas that are worth your time to be aware of.
1. Google Classroom
Shortly after shutdowns looked to be less about taking temporary time off and more about being a permanent solution, several software developers jumped in to help out. Predictably, Google was one of the companies that threw their hat into the ring to great avail.
Google Classroom is a collection of free tools students and teachers across the country have used. It has enabled learners to chat via text, video, share documents, present, and even create work that can be submitted to educators.
Google Classroom can seem overwhelming at first, given its suite of features. It’s relatively easy to pick-up with practice though and well worth helping your child master if they haven’t already.
Zoom is perhaps the most obvious of the distance learning tools that have come into focus in 2020. It has one core function, to connect people via video chat, whether that be in large groups, 1 on 1, or webinar-style.
Zoom has a much milder learning curve than Google Classroom. It isn’t free though if you plan on having more than a couple of people in a chat.
Several higher learning classrooms leverage Zoom to conduct class sessions. In our experience, K – 5 classes are using other video tools integrated with broader classroom platforms to video conference.
3. Pear Deck
There are a lot of collaborative presentation tools available on the market. As a matter of fact, options in this space absolutely exploded during lock-downs.
Among your many options, teachers we’ve talked to have migrated towards Pear Deck.
Pear Deck enables students to collaboratively create presentations that can then be submitted to educators. The tool is free and offers a host of interesting teamwork features that are more engaging than similar features used by competing tools like Google Slides.
Ask your child if they use Pear Deck and if so, know that helping them acclimate more fully to the program can aid in their confidence building to a point where they can do their best work.
4. Khan Academy
Khan is among the distance learning tools on our list that made waves well before 2019. It’s a 100% free, online learning platform that has world-class teachers offering instruction on a variety of topics.
For many around the world, Khan is their pathway to education. For others, Khan Academy offers wonderful subsidies when it comes to education which has the power to replace the need to hire expensive tutors.
Navigating Khan’s many online learning resources can be overwhelming for young kids. As a parent, being aware of what your child is doing and curating videos can do wonders for their ability to get the most out of the platform.
While not conventionally a tool that has bubbled to the surface during distance learning, in a world where the work you produce has to shine double seeing as how your child isn’t interacting with their educators, Canva is helpful.
If you’ve never heard of Canva, it’s a free graphic design tool. The tool is powered by hundreds of thousands of templates that allow students to quickly craft several staggering presentations, brochures, flyers, essay backgrounds, and so much more.
Canva is certainly designed with adults in mind. If you have an older youngster and/or you’re willing to help them, leaning on Canva to make your child’s work shine is certainly a path worth pursuing.
6. Epic Books
We all know what Netflix is. But what if there was a streaming platform that streamed educational, imagination-stoking books?
Unbeknownst to many parents (and teachers), there is! That platform is Epic Books.
Epic Books provides several free, engaging titles for kids to download and enjoy as they’re separated from resources they might ordinarily have at the library. These books can help children strengthen their reading outcomes which can push them to be more apt in volunteering to read aloud with their digital classes.
7. Prodigy Math
Anyone that has ever said education isn’t a game probably never played prodigy math. Prodigy has proven itself to be among the most valuable distance learning tools in that it takes complicated subjects in the math arena and makes them accessible through gaming.
Several mini-games make up the Prodigy portfolio, each of which allows students to power up their avatars, online pets, and otherwise improve their gaming experience.
Prodigy does cost money to enjoy the full experience the platform has to offer. Many schools have scholastic licenses though that offer kids free access.
If prodigy is not a tool that’s subsidized by your district and you think it might help your child, its subscriptions are palatable.
8. ABC Mouse
Before online learning was the primary way kids were educated, ABC Mouse was pushing its efficacy. ABC Mouse is an online learning platform that is digital/game based which satisfies general education requirements for several grade levels.
To be clear, ABC Mouse is not a subsidy to your child’s public school education. The service replaces it.
We’ve seen parents that have struggled with teachers that were incapable of transitioning their classes online opt for ABC Mouse. In doing so, they found that their kid’s learning outcomes improved. That’s a byproduct of ABC Mouse mastering distanced learning over several years.
Enhancing Your Learning Tools
You can be aware of all of the distanced learning tools that are available on the market today and still find that your child struggles. After all, remote learning takes more than access to quality tools.
While describing everything that can enhance your child’s digital experience would go beyond the scope of this post, two core resources we’ve found have had the biggest impact on children:
A Solid Computer
You need a good computer in order to run quality learning tools. That truth has proven to be a separator amongst middle class/rich communities and poor ones.
If your child is struggling with their computer, explore desktop deals that are going on year-round which may be able to get them back on track. While desktops are not as flexible as laptops, they are cheaper when you consider the amount of power they’re able to provide.
Another key resource for children in today’s remote era is a distance learning office. Of course, most parents don’t have the real estate to give their child their own office. If that’s the case for you, it would behoove both you and your child to get creative.
For example, partitioning off part of a shared bedroom with a room separator can afford your child the privacy they need.
Getting Help From Your Community
If the tools we’ve mentioned or resources like a quality computer or even internet are hard for you to learn/acquire, ask for help. Several parents are leaning on resources provided by their district offices to stay afloat during these difficult times.
Whether it be checking out a Chromebook from your child’s school or booking a quiet space at a public library, solutions exist that can help you bridge your child’s education gap.
Distance Learning Tools Can Make or Break Learning Outcomes
Distance learning tools and distance learning accessories are important to talk about. The reason being that we’ve seen time and again access to the right things make and break learning outcomes.
Be aware of that and be proactive in helping your child master/acquire the tools they need to succeed. If you can’t drive that process, ask for help. In just about every community there are school and city resources that can do wonders for helping you achieve your desired ends. Still struggling with technological elements of your remote-based life? If so, we welcome you to dive deeper into the multitude of content we have featured in our blog.