Make the Most of Online Courses

make the most of online courses

New to the world of online learning? As you know, you’re not alone by a long shot. And while so many of us are navigating online education for the first time, there are thousands of students and parents who use digital platforms and online classes for much of their schooling experience already. These 4 tips will help you make the most of online courses!

Let the course do what it's supposed to do.

Online courses, whether live or pre-recorded, free you to be the parent, guide, and teacher of other subjects that may require you to be more hands-on. When we take advantage of the digital options available to us, we can spend our homeschool hours focusing on what we, the parent, need to provide, and we can let the online courses do their job. Trust that learning is happening, even if you aren’t sitting next to your student and teaching the material yourself.

Once you’ve gotten your learner up and running, it’s okay to let them go. Allow the courses to do what they’re supposed to do.

Don’t fret the absence of busywork.

As a teacher of live, online courses, I’ve noticed something interesting: Parents and students who come out of a traditional school environment inevitably ask me for handouts, worksheets, downloads, and, well, busywork. 

While each of those resources can be helpful, they don’t guarantee that learning is happening. In a school setting where classrooms boast large numbers, busywork can show a teacher that the student knows how to follow through with an assignment, and it streamlines the grading process. While following through is not a bad skill to have, it’s also not necessarily an accurate measure of what a student has learned. 

Instead, think about showing your student how to take thorough notes on the material being presented. Use the study guide and syllabus to ask them what they learned in the day’s video session, and lead them into good discussions about what was taught. Inspire creative projects like storyboards, PowerPoint presentations, graphic representations, essays, mind-mapping, and anything else that will reinforce the material covered but isn’t—dare I say it—just a big waste of the student’s time.

Take advantage of frequent review.

Review of the topics taught in online classes is essential, just as it would be for any other format of learning. Courses from Compass Classroom provide the kind of review that is practical and helpful, and you don’t have to go looking for a way to figure that out. 

Economics for Everybody, for example, includes study questions and answers. Dave Raymond’s history courses (American HistoryModernity, and Antiquity) provide weekly exams that can serve as excellent review material. Quizlet reviews are an interactive way to remember what has been taught in each lesson, and they are already built into several Compass Classroom curricula, such as Visual Latin and Word Up! The Vocab Show

Students remember what they review!

Let your student guide their course choices.

It’s no big secret that we learn best that which we are interested in, and the same applies to our children. Beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic, there is a myriad of choices for our kids to dive in deeply and learn the things that interest them most. 

When presented with online courses and streaming video options, what excites your student the most? If you’re concerned that they’ll only focus on “fluff”, give them several options and allow them to pick. 

Ask your learner something along the lines of, “Do you want to study French, Spanish, or Italian? Are you interested in taking a cooking class or a robotics course? What sounds better to you—marine biology or learning how to start your own business?” 

By giving our kids the reigns early on, we are teaching them to be curious, lifelong learners who know how to pursue an education for themselves. In a world that can now provide an education in virtually everything (and virtually, at that), our kids will need to be equipped with the tools for self-discovery. This, to me, is one of the sweetest facets of parenting children; it’s super exciting to see them take an interest in and ownership over their learning.

Make the Most of Online Courses

Online learning is different and there is a definite learning curve, but if you make the most of online courses, once you’ve become accustomed to them, you’ll find that your student truly is learning! 

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Author, Kendra Fletcher

Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and 22-year homeschool veteran. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Find her here: www.kendrafletcher.com.