Student Life

Online educational tools offer more than just homework help

We are living in the midst of an education revolution.  Over the course of the last few years, technology has made its grand entrance into the classroom, making backpacks lighter, and perhaps instilling into young people a new sense of wonder in what could possibly be next.  These days, education goes far beyond the conventional classroom.  For those who seek to further their learning outside of the school, here are some of the best websites that offer much more than homework help:

KAlogoKhan Academy

First launched in2006 by MIT graduate and educator Salman Khan, Khan Academy grew from its humble beginnings, starting out as a series of YouTube tutorials geared towards Algebra students.  Now, Khan is a man on a mission: to provide “a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” 

Whether you’re perplexed by a new concept in pre-calculus, looking to get in some last minute studying for the SAT, or just curious as to why the earth revolves around the sun, Khan Academy is a surefire way to find the answers you’re looking for and more.  

According to Khan Academy’s website, the non-profit offers a wide variety of subjects, primarily those focusing on math and science, but also includes a selection of courses in the Humanities, including both World and Art History.  Each lesson takes the form of a simple video, shot in a single frame that depicts only a black screen and allows viewers to learn through Khan’s instruction and demonstration – one voice for over 3,000 micro-lectures.

Teachers and students from all over the world are beginning to wonder what all the hype is about.  A new education strategy, “flipping the classroom,” is already becoming a hit in U.S. schools.  The idea is this:  have students watch online lessons for homework so that teachers can spend class time giving individual attention to those who need it.  Not only does the method give teachers more personalized time with students, but it allows students to work and develop skills at their own pace, an increasingly valuable asset in modern education.

Eventually, Khan Academy plans to begin a peer tutoring program, which will allow students from around the world to connect with and assist one another via internet.  This revolutionary concept could potentially allow a student, or even a teacher, from a privileged country to tutor a child from a third-world nation, opening the door to new understanding, and finally bridging the gap between students across the globe.

Until then, Khan Academy has proven that it can offer much more than homework help.

Click here to see Khan’s full segment at TED Talks 2011.

CClogoCrash Course

With over one million loyal subscribers and more than 56 million total views, the Crash Course YouTube channel continuously ranks as one of the Internet’s most-watched educational series.

According to Crash Course, which was launched by self-titled ‘VlogBrothers’ John and Hank Green in early 2012, the channel currently offers six different courses, all with a common goal: making it possible for anyone with internet access to learn basic subjects.

 

John Green, author of The New York Times Bestseller The Fault in Our Stars teaches the humanities: World History, United States History, and English Literature.  His brother, the multi-talented internet entrepreneur Hank Green, focuses on the sciences: Chemistry, Biology, and Ecology, so far.

Crash Course isn’t a conventional way of teaching, nor is it a conventional classroom by any stretch of the imagination.  Each lesson lasts an average of ten to fifteen minutes, and teaches viewers through a combination of humorous dialogue, animated segments coordinated by partner organization Thought Bubble, and connections to modern culture that make learning all the more engaging.

Crash Course is an educational resource with major potential, not to mention considerable payoff.  The channel takes your average classroom lecture and compresses it, so to say, making it easy to digest information with short, visually-appetizing videos.  Not only can it serve as an information-refresher before exams, but it can open up new doors to subjects students might not be able to fit in their busy schedules.  For an avid lover of knowledge, Crash Course is a goldmine.

scishowSciShow

Another product of VlogBrother genius, the YouTube channel “SciShow” takes into account one of the questions that remains central to the human experience:

Why?

According to the SciShow YouTube channel, their aim is to “discuss science news, history, and concepts with equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm.”

Through witty dialogue and clever explanations, YouTube superstar Hank Green covers several different science topics in thrice-weekly videos, ranging from Chemistry to Botany, Zoology to Computer Science.  The videos themselves are clear and concise, and expound upon the questions we ask ourselves every day, but may not have the resources to answer.

Why do we sleep? What would happen to you if you were to be struck by lightning?

Topics not necessarily covered in the everyday classroom are brought to light in incredibly short, yet easy-to-digest videos.  For anyone who seeks answers to the big questions of science, SciShow is resource that can be understood by anyone, almost anywhere in the world.

 

Technology and education have intertwined in a way that has made it possible for anyone to have access to knowledge, anywhere across the globe.  Now more than ever, the world is our classroom.

About Lauren Fisher

Senior Lauren Fisher is an Advanced Journalism student and the Editor-in-Chief. She is involved with Academic Team, Service Club, Thespian Society, and is a student ambassador at McNicholas. Outside of school, she enjoys spending her free time reading, writing, and spending time with her family, friends, and cat.

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Photo of the Week

Theology teacher Teresa Davis' E Bell Comparative World Religions' class celebrates the traditional Indian holiday of Holi on May 15. Students paid $2.50 each to participate, throwing the colors on the practice field in Paradise.

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