Before the pandemic, most of us had little experience with distance learning. COVID thrust students everywhere into learning from home and using Zoom, Google Classroom, and a myriad of other online learning tools and management systems. While we may associate distance learning with these platforms, it actually includes any learning that takes place outside the physical classroom, such as learning programs delivered entirely at a distance, or a hybrid blend of in-classroom and at-home learning. Whether you’re a K-12 student or enrolled in college, distance learning is often a flexible and cost-effective option that has the power to benefit students around the world. The internet and availability of high-quality online curriculum and courses have transformed traditional education and resulted in the popular distance learning movement, allowing kids to pursue what they love outside the walls of a classroom.
World Distance Learning Day is a day to be thankful for the many distance learning opportunities we have and countless resources that are available. In honor of World Distance Learning Day, we thought we’d share distance learning programs that help kids with varied interests pursue their passions beyond the classroom.
DigiPen believes every family has personal goals that shape their educational journey. Originally built for homeschool families looking for an educational experience to satisfy their expectations for both academic rigor and personal engagement, DigiPen also offers programs for students who have found that public school isn’t the right fit.
Their online programs offer elementary, middle, and high school students the opportunity to access differentiated and engaging courses from wherever they are. In addition to core general education courses in math, reading, writing, and science, DigiPen Academy offers a rotating variety of electives including debate, theater, video game programming, art and animation, game design, engineering, and music and sound. Families may choose to take as few or as many courses as needed to meet their student’s learning goals. Content is differentiated and instruction is geared for various age groups.
Khan Academy’s mission is to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. It serves as a personalized learning resource that offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a learning dashboard to empower learners at all ages to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.
Khan Academy content includes math, science, computing, history, art history, economics, and more, including K-14 and test preparation (SAT, Praxis, LSAT) content. Kids can get help with what they’re learning in school or learn something completely new. Khan Academy emphasizes skill mastery to help learners establish strong foundations.
Le Sallay Academy is an international middle school for kids aged 10-14 that provides a blended learning model and personalized learning plans for each student. Students engage in a synchronous distance learning and intensive in-person study sessions throughout the year. They study from home for a total of six months and travel to three week-long sessions in France four times a year. Because of the immersive curriculum, small class sizes, and instructors, students receive an international education from the comfort of home.
Le Sallay’s synchronous distance learning program includes 5-6 interactive classes a day with 3-6 classmates. In-person sessions at the Chateau Le Sallay in Burgundy, France bring all students together. Sessions combine classes with games and activities to help students develop their social skills. The Academy’s mentors and psychologists work with students throughout the year to oversee socio-emotional development and foster positive classroom experiences.
Outschool is an online learning platform with live, interactive, online classes geared towards kids ages 3-18. Offerings are led by experienced teachers who teach the subjects and skills they love to small groups via video chat. Kids interact with same-age peers while learning about art, English, life skills,music, social studies, coding and technology, health and wellness, math, science and nature, and world languages. There are also fashion design classes with real fashion designers, acting with real Broadway actors, the chance to work with veterinarians to learn about cats, and so much more. Favorite subjects on Outschool include Dungeons & Dragons, Fortnite, Lego, Pokemon, Minecraft, and even the stock market!
Outschool also ensures that their classes are available for free to any child no matter their family’s financial situation thanks to their non-profit division, Outschool.org.
Leticia Barr is a middle school teacher, a parent, and the founder of Tech Savvy Mama.