Online Learning Sites

Faith prepares for her pre-calc class. Textbook? Headset? Graphics tablet to input math work? Knitting?

Busy mamas look for all sorts of ways to multiply themselves as they try to teach a houseful. (Here's a previous post on this topic: "Multiply (Yourself) and Divide Your Work.")

In the olden days we used audio tapes and occasional videos. Technology continues to give us more and more options for teaching subjects that are not our forte or for making it possible to have lots of simultaneous subjects going on at once. And, yes, of course you don't want to park any child in front of a computer or other screen for vast quantities of time! And, yes again, most, but not all of these tools are aimed at older students. Nonetheless, used judiciously, and in age-appropriate ways, these resources can be a help for stretched teachers.

Here are some of the sites we've been using which have been a significant help in our homeschool. They're not just for your kids, either! Nothing helps keep your teaching fresh like continuing to learn alongside your young scholars!

1. The Potter's School
We've partnered with TPS for around 14 years to provide high quality LIVE internet classes for our older children. Starting in junior high, our kids take 1-3 classes each year in subjects from British Literature and Chemistry to Calculus and Electronics. I can't imagine teaching high school without the super TPS teachers and classes.

If you're interested in TPS classes, check them out in the late winter. Registration takes place in March and April.

2. The Khan Academy
Most everyone knows about Khan, which offers free classes in math, business, programming, and  more, but if it has been a while since you checked them out, you may find new content. Recently they've added Spanish and French among other courses. One of my high schoolers is learning computer coding with Khan tutorials. Most of the classes are for older kids, but they do have math tutorials for young students.

3. Mango Languages
While trying to figure out a better language learning situation for one of my high schoolers, I ran across Mango Languages this summer. Mango offers some 52+ courses including Croatian (my 80 year old dad is currently touring that country!) Vietnamese, Biblical Hebrew, and more common ones such as French and Spanish. Faith is taking German and Amanda is dappling in Koine Greek. My girls have several years of Rosetta Stone under their belts, and they say Mango easily surpasses Rosetta.

OK, now here's the amazing part. Mango has partnered with many public libraries to offer their programs for free! Yes - if your library (like ours) subscribes to Mango, you can access these brilliant courses for absolutely nothing! (You can also purchase a single course or access to unlimited courses for a month or a year if your library is not a subscriber. The prices still beat Rosetta.)

For reviews that explain more about Mango try this one or this.

4. Headventure Land
The creative folks at Classical Academic Press have outdone themselves with their fun review site, Headventure Land. Here your kids can play games and take quizzes to review their vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension of Latin, Spanish, and Greek. Lessons are correlated with CAP's courses for children of all ages. My youngest boys use Flash Dance, a game with virtual flashcards, to help them review their Latin vocabulary.

In the past couple of weeks an upgraded version of Headventure Land for Latin For Children, Book A, has come out which requiresa $20  membership fee to unlock all of the games. Many games, including Flash Dance are still free, but the "Full Zone" includes additional content.  Ben has found the site so useful that I have had him go back and work through previously completed chapters to solidify his knowledge or beginning Latin. 

5. Memrise
This one is new to me, and so far I'm the only one in our family testing it out. Memrise is basically a flashcard site which offers tons of community created courses in everything from geography (capitals of African countries, for example) to art history.These flashcards can be built with graphics, sound, and mneumonics, so, depending on the particular program you are working with, it can be quite fun. I'm currently dabbling in Art History and reviewing some German vocabulary.

Memrise introduces each new nugget of information, then quizzes you until you have put that info into longer term memory. It uses garden terminology and talks of "planting" and then "watering" as you nurture your new knowledge. A little bit each day is the key. (And, yes, it has been probably a week since I watered my factoids. They will probably wither and die before I get back to them.)       

Memrise can be used on various devices besides regular computers as it is also available as an iOS and Goggle app. If you want to understand more about the theory behind the site, check out this Wiki article.

6. Future Learn
I'm super excited about the Future Learn class I'm signed up for:  Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier.  Set to begin next week, this class will be taught by a professor from Newcastle University. I'm a bit of an Anglophil, and I have a secret desire to someday ride my bike from coast-to-coast along Hadrian's Cycleway, so this class promises to be interesting.   

FutureLearn is a source of MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) owned by The Open University. Future Learn's courses mostly come from UK universities and the program is in the beta stage.

The jury is still out on the impact MOOC classes are going to have on learning around the globe. There seems to be enormous potential, but some of the application has been disappointing. For example, the completion rate is pretty low overall for MOOC courses. Anyway, I'm looking forward to giving my Hadrian's Wall class a whirl, and seeing what all the fuss is about these type of free courses!

There you have it! Six technological helpers we are currently either using or investigating!


Peter Locke said…
I'm enjoying the Hadrian's Wall course. Thanks for the information! How did you find out about it? How do you find these things online? I feel confident about what choices I'm making when I request books or order curriculum because I can read so many reviews(like yours), but how to you discern what to use online? So far I've only used for my children.
Another benefit of the Future Learn course is that "dendrochronology" is a new word for me. :)
-Kimberly Locke
Peter Locke said…
I forgot to ask, have you found any books to go along with this? Even any picture books that come to mind?
Anne said…
Hi Kimberly! I'm glad you are enjoying Hadrian's Wall! I am too, though this week I have fallen behind. I heard about Future Learn (and Memrise) on a blog that I started reading this summer called "Here in the Bonny Glen" :

The other sites I've found in different ways, often while searching for a solution to a problem such as needing a new foreign language option for a high schooler.

How to know what to trust online? Really there is no substitute for trying a place yourself. Sometimes you can find reviews (like for Mango), but other times you just need to try it. That's why I'm taking the Hadrian's Wall course myself (though I find myself sharing some of the videos with my sons when I think they will be interested.)

Do you mean books to go along with the Hadrian's Wall course? My youngest boys are studying ancient history this year, though we are not yet up to the Romans. But our family has done Ancient Rome studies several times, and here are some books I just pulled from my shelves that have helpful info about Roman Britain:

*A Roman Fort (Fiona Macdonald) - the most pertinent I could find

*Our Island Story (H.E. Marshall)
- Children's history of Britain. ch 2-6 tell of the Romans in Britain. This book is public domain, so you can find free copies online

*Usborne Internet Linked Romans and Usb. Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World
(It looks like Usb. also has a title called Roman Britain, which I don't have)

* The Eagle of the Ninth (Rosemary Sutcliffe) - fiction set in Roman Britain north of Hadrian's Wall. Been a while since I read it, but we're going to later this year. This is the best known of a Roman Britain trilogy.

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