Using the Internet for Learning
The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.
Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.
What Types of Resources Are Out There?
Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.
If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.
How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?
Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.
Where to Start Searching?
When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.
A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.
If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.
Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond
Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.
Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.