Streamlining Modern Education

My Nebraskan mother tells me she used to walk miles to primary school, in a barn, where she learned in a class of just ten kids, right next to some cows and chickens. I don’t know how much of that story is true but I do know that education fifty something years ago is quite different than education today.

Technology has streamlined the world of education. Online or on campus, technology is ever present. If you walk into a traditional brick and mortar college class, you may see the professor using a projector to present his lecture or show a video. You will definitely see many of the students using their lab tops or tablets to take notes. Assignments are no longer printed out and handed in; they are emailed or uploaded to a shared server such as DropBox. People in classrooms no longer pass notes under their desks while the teacher isn’t looking. They text one another or send a TikTok video during class on their smart phones. The cows and chickens would be so disappointed.

How has Online Education Changed?

With technology continuously expanding and changing the ways our lives, we can expect that technology plays a major role in the online classroom. Email is almost archaic compared to the modernized tools professors and teachers now have access to. Learning online has become more mainstream in the last few years and today, it is everything. We are experiencing a global pandemic that has closed down thousands of campuses across the world. Even though our students cannot learn in a classroom among their peers and teachers, they can still learn from the safety of their homes. An online education for a 9-year-old, 3rd grader, will be much different than that of a college student but with the commonality of the Internet and its infinite amount of resources and data, they can both be successful online students.

There are hundreds of teaching programs available for teachers to help improve the academic administration, encourage collaboration, provide autonomy across all students and facilitate effective communication between student and teacher. Learning long distance, whether a student is brand new to it or has been learning remotely already, can be challenging. Keeping students engaged proves to be one of the biggest obstacles but through the use of modern technology, teachers now have the power to enrich their online classroom and keep their classroom on track. In this article, we will discuss ten online education programs that have helped change the way we learn online.

  1. TedEd – TedEd is an educational platform that allows collaboration of learning materials, such as lesson plans, between teachers, students and outside resources. They offer video lessons on a variety of subjects, video series and blogs. I saw some great video-based lessons plans on explaining coronavirus, what it is like to be a Muslim in America and how the world’s largest underwater tunnel was built. The subjects are fascinating, on point with what is happening in the world today and the lessons are easy to comprehend and fun to watch! TedEd also has tools for teachers and students to create their own video lessons.
  2. ThingLink – This platform gives teachers the ability to create unique learning experiences for their students through the use of interactive images, videos and 360-degree media. Music, sound, text and photographs are hand picked to create unique media that will grasp the attention of their students. Created content is also shareable on social media. This is a wonderful way to engage with your online classroom.
  3. Edmodo – This website is a social academic tool that connects students with teachers. More than 34 million users connect together to create a more interactive learning process that is personalized and enriching. Teachers can share classroom materials and message their students. Students are empowered because they get to be a part of their exciting online classroom community. Edmodo has also created a tool kit in response to the recent pandemic that has free distance learning webinars with use information for students, parents and teachers as they adjust to home education.
  4. Adapted Mind – This website offers hundreds of math and reading lessons from grades 1st through 8th. Friendly animated monsters make lessons visual and fun! Difficulty levels are automatically adjusted based on the child’s answers. Students can even create their own monster and parents are emailed a daily progress report. This website is very cute but they do charge $9.95 per month for up to five different children.
  5. Formative – This assessment application allows teachers to create assignments and get live results from their students. Instructors can curate their own lessons plans from scratch with their own content or they can use one of their pre-made formatives. Results are in live time so the teachers can provide feedback immediately or have the work auto-graded. Formative also provides complex progress reports that can be viewed by individual student or as a whole to look to find trends in the entire classroom’s learning curve.
  6. Schoology – A powerful learning management system packed with distance learning tools geared towards K through 12th grade. Teachers can create engaging content and design lessons. Schoology has instructional tools, communication/collaboration, a mobile app, personalized learning, analytics, interoperability and assessment management. This LMS has millions of users and aims to bring a community of education professionals, tech gurus and lifelong learners together.
  7. VideoScribe – This website is super neat. Educational professionals can build and create their own whiteboard-style animations with no tech or graphic design experience required! Visual and interactive media helps keep students engaged and curates curiosity. Videos can be created on any subject and become personalized revision materials to look back on at exam time. VideoScribe offers a free seven-day trial and packages start as low as $14 per month.
  8. Todoist – This platform gives students the accessibility to organize their school, work and personal tasks in a clear and concise platform. Features include task view by day, recurring due dates, favorite key projects, sections & subtasks, delegation of tasks, notifications, productivity visualizations and access through your desktop or smartphone. Premium costs are just $3 per month.
  9. Trello – This platform has a “drag and drop” environment where students can organize coursework and projects. Trello helps with team projects where multiple people can contribute and edit content. “Cards” give quick information at glance such as due dates, comments and attachments. It is also offered on a desktop or on your smartphone.
  10. Noisli – If you are having trouble focusing while studying, you can create your own listening environment using 28 different background sounds. Enjoy high quality sounds, curated playlists, advanced timer sessions and a distraction-free text editor. Basic packages are free or you can upgrade to a pro account for $10 per month.

There are many more websites, applications and platforms available online right now for educational professionals and students of all ages. If this is your first-time diving into the world of online learning, do not fret! You have access to hundreds of tools that will streamline your planning, organize your work and projects and even provide special study time sounds.

Is Online the New Normal?

It is apparent that real changes are happening right now in the education system. Due to the pandemic COVOID-19 virus, all school campuses (from elementary up through college) have been temporarily closed down. Children of all ages are suddenly expected to modify their daily schedules and routines. Instead of horsing around with their peers at recess; they are in front of a screen, saying hello to their peers and teacher via a Zoom video conference call. Their teacher is no longer by their side, helping them practice their writing or long addition. Suddenly, it is mom or dad (or any caretaker), guiding them through their studies at home. Can a child truly focus and learn from home, on a computer, with no teacher present? Will they be able to pass and move on to the next grade level? Or will they be distracted and unable to absorb their lessons? What about the children that come from low income families and they do not have access to a computer or the internet? How will they complete their education this year? The answers to all of these questions are unknown. Only time, real life experiences, modifications and the new normal will tell.