You might have heard a little something about e-learning this past month or so?
While the broad term covers a variety of formats (and can often get confused with the different types of online learning), all that means for you and your child is the ability to sample everything that’s available, in hopes of zeroing in on the setup that makes the most sense.
Because let’s face it—every student can learn, they just learn differently.
So, I've gone through and described a lot of what I see out there at the moment, ranging from solo to group learning experiences, and those with two-way interaction versus recorded videos, and more.
Types of e-learning
Here are the most prevalent types of e-learning options available for your child:
- Lesson-based learning
- One-on-one learning
- Group learning
- Course-based learning
- Video-based learning
- Article-based learning
- Self-paced learning
- App-based learning
- Game and activity-based learning
- "Lesson a day" learning
1. Lesson-based learning
One of the most difficult things to combat in the transition from the classroom to online learning is the loss of structure. Meaning, while the web opens an entirely new world with more avenues than your child will ever have time to explore (believe it or not), there is certainly a trade-off in terms of guiding your child’s time and ensuring they’re learning efficiently.
So, if you’re able to find opportunities that are presented with structure, give them a shot. BrainPop is one good example of a lesson-based learning option, and others extend to course-based options and those offering live instruction and self-paced progression as explained throughout this post.
2. One-on-one learning
One huge benefit of eLearning is that it allows users to jump in and learn when most convenient for them. One drawback, though, is that most experiences don’t offer the two-way communication between an instructor and student, with teaching taking place in the form of a recorded video or written word.
In the end, the learning experience is far from personalized, and many student questions might go unanswered...ultimately leading to a decline in engagement. So, to counter, a big one-on-one tutoring benefit includes being able to interact with a live instructor.
It's basically a virtual tutoring session, for example, like iD Tech's private coding tutoring, where your child can sign up for 60-minute learning sessions with custom lessons tailored to their needs.
3. Group learning
To play devil's advocate, one potential negative of eLearning - especially compared to classroom learning - is the social aspect. If kids are by themselves in front of a computer for hours on end, how are they also going to learn vital social skills?
It's a fair point, and to counter I'd say it's all about balance, with parents needing to figure out which levers to pull in order for their children to continue to grow as well-rounded as possible.
But with that said, there are online learning experiences that offer that crucial balance! Virtual summer camps are built to bring the summer camp atmosphere online, meaning yes there is plenty of learning, but also fun and socialization as well.
4. Course-based learning
One big advantage of course-based eLearning is the built-in progression, which inherently adds structure to your child’s learning experience as they complete, say, intro course A and then move on to a more advanced course B, and so on.
So, for instance, homeschoolers learning coding can now logically move from a block-based coding lesson where they're learning about the different blocks available to them, to actually piecing those blocks together in order to program their stories and animations.
5. Video-based learning
Remember, every kid can learn, but each just might learn a bit differently...hence the beauty of alternative learning experiences, right? Those kids who simply don’t absorb book content or don’t test well now have the chance to learn through something like video, and might find that video concepts “speak to them” (no pun intended) at volumes no other teaching source has ever spoken before.
6. Article-based learning
All of that said, maybe your child does, in fact, thrive off the written word—with their brain functioning as a high-performance scanner just taking in loads of written content and committing it to memory.
If that's the case, sites like Time for Kids could be valuable, where the consumption of information feels less like a learning activity, and more like a leisurely activity. Articles also present information differently, and your child might gravitate more towards an idea that's presented as a story backed by quotes and examples.
7. Self-paced learning
Obviously between the different experiences presented above and below, there is going to be some overlap, with many opportunities offering a suite of experiences like self-pacing, courses, videos, and more.
Looking at self-pacing options specifically, though, the benefit here is “loosened structure” if you will, meaning kids can spend as much time as they want when learning, without being timed or having to stick to a schedule.
8. App-based learning
Let’s face it, kids love their devices. And while screen time should definitely be regulated for balance, a potential compromise is presenting a learning opportunity in the form of a mobile app.
There certainly is no shortage of learning apps, which is good and bad, right? Which work, and which don't? Not to mention that anything unfolding on a mobile device will require supreme focus and dedication given the number of distractions that can pop up.
9. Game and activity-based learning
One way to really grab and keep hold of a child’s attention is to link online learning to something they’re already interested in. Thus, you might find that engaging with portals provided by networks like PBS and Nick Jr. is a successful endeavor, given their presentation of learning opportunities through familiar animated characters.
Again, now learning is disguised as entertainment than it is learning, which might lead to increased buy-in.
10. "A lesson a day" learning
Depending on your child’s level of autonomy, they may just need a little nudge to get them going, which is exactly what these "one lesson per day" formats accomplish.
Not to mention that, with so much opportunity in front of you to "learn all of the things," it could get a little overwhelming. So instead, if a child is able to really focus on learning one key piece per day rather than engaging in curriculum that might seem like it has no end, it could really pay off. See Scholastic's Learn at Home to get a better idea of what I'm talking about.
Learning comes in all shapes and sizes
I've said it twice already so I'll finish with a third...
Every student can learn; they just learn differently.
Sure, some may struggle in a particular area or subject, but that's what's great about online and alternative learning experiences. There is no set way; and the "best" option depends on you and your unique circumstances, challenges, and goals.