When Technology and Education meet – We all win.

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This post was actually inspired by three people – my buddies MikeyC and Alby, plus my son JAM_Bell.

MikeyC and I often exchange bits of humor, news and technology throughout the day – and he recently sent over links to KhanAcademy.org and DuoLingo.com, free tools to help both Adults and Children hone their skills in learning languages and Math.

us schools educationAs a parent who is involved in Technology – these appeared on the surface to be excellent tools to help bolster what is being taught in school, and to provide an alternate (FREE) perspective that might help kids who are outside their comfort zone in the classroom.  Plus, for me – they give me an opportunity to improve my German, plus learn Spanish along side my son.

The Khan Academy –

Currently, the United States is embarrassingly behind other countries when it comes to skills in Mathematics. The only way this is going to change, is if we as parents step up and actually become an active part in our children’s lives, and take an active interest in their education.  Even if you yourself are not a “Whiz” with numbers, there are numerous free tools out there that can provide assistance, and the Khan Academy website appears to be just what the doctor ordered.

The Khan Academy’s Mission Statement sums everything up quite well, and should show that slowly the ideas of traditional education are going out the window –

“Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.”

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The site itself is fairly easy to navigate, with a the traditional menu to the left (Containing links to Activity, Badges Earned, Skills Progress and even links to Community interaction).  Meanwhile, from the Dashboard, you can track progress in the right hand pane, as you work through various subjects and gain proficiency.

 

 

What I particularly liked, is the quick adaptive assessment when you start – that allows you to place yourself technically.  No going all the way back to 1+1, when you already know Trig.

During sessions, you can even click on how-to videos on the various subjects.  Granted, they can be a little dry – but they are informative and on task to the topic at hand…making them invaluable if you have forgotten how to do a particular formula and need to brush up.

It appears the Khan Academy is targeting the expansion this “Open Source” learning to subjects outside of Math – and for this, I applaud them.  Its innovative and forward thinking development like this that will definitely put education within everyone’s grasp.

 

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Similar to The Khan Academy, duoLingo is an interactive online source for learning that second language we all talk about, be it German, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

Lessons are based again on a quick assessment that allows you to test ahead based on skill, a language Skill Tree, Vocabulary mastery and even an Immersion option – where you read and translate from the native language.

The Skill Tree lessons are basic, but informative – incorporating reading, spelling, spoken (if you have a microphone) and written to be as all encompassing as possible.  On a whim, I began the German assessment – and quickly realized, that while I speak and understand German….my spelling and grammar needs a lot of work.  Something I am sure I can rectify using the application.

An added bonus is Facebook Integration – allowing you to see friends online who are also using duoLingo, and even compare progress and scores.  In our highly competitive household, I can see this definitely taking off, as JAM_Bell and I try to see who is better.

 

 

Overall, I found both of these sites to be extremely useful and well done.  I will definitely be incorporating them into our afterschool regiment as we try to maintain excellent grades and create an environment of learning by doing.  Since both Math and Language skills are interactive, they play well to this type of learning – and I can see my son definitely benefitting.

 

 

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