Online Learning Resources: What to Consider

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Now that my son is in kindergarten at a digital school, my family and I are becoming more exposed to online learning resources. Just like apps, there are lots of them out there. Some are great and some are meh, (think New York accent).

Here are my five things to consider when evaluating online resources for learning. The below are geared towards primary learning:

1. Is the website helpful and updated?

This is critical for me. Websites are now the key point of entry for a product and I regularly make decisions about a product in less than 10 seconds. One site I looked at was http://www.literactive.com. It is a learn to read activity site and when I clicked on the parents information page is said “Coming shortly.” Huge fail, in my POV.

Does the company not care about parents? Should I be going to the site? It raises a number of questions and doesn’t make me feel secure.

2. Is the cost worth it?

During computer time my son uses a math game called DreamBox Learning. I won’t lie – it’s an amazing adaptive learning game. We’ve been on a 14 day trial and need to decide if we will sign up for a monthly subscription. Now where I live the cost is $12.95 per month. I didn’t think that was much but my husband almost choked. My husband used to play WoW a.k.a. World of Warcraft and to him it seemed quite high. We haven’t made a decision yet. We’ll see. Will my son continue to play this game after a couple of months? It helps that he uses the game at school but will it translate to continuous home learning?

3. Is it easy to locate the cost on the website?

Pay attention to how easy or hard it is to find the cost of the online resource. The cost for parents on DreamBox’s website was buried. I had to hunt around to find it. I prefer to see the cost upfront as opposed to looking for it. It makes me think “Uh oh, why they are hiding the cost? There must be something wrong.” In this case, I believe the cost is justified. The graphic user interface and learning is amazing. You can easily see the value in the product. I just wish they weren’t hiding it – be transparent.

4. Is the product available across all platforms?

In my family we have smart phones, tablets and computers. I find that I am turned off by products that don’t offer multiple platforms. Sometimes I’m at home or sometimes I’m at the dr’s office with my son. It’s always best to provide me with different platforms that achieve the same learning goals. Two sites that do this well are http://www.ABCya.com and http://www.starfall.com. Both offer products for when my son is at home or on the go.

5. Does it speak to me and my son?

Because these products are online, it’s very important that they are visually pleasing or at the very least, uncluttered. My son and I want to easily understand what is going on, where to start learning and that the product relates to him. Sites such as http://www.abcmouse.com and http://www.starfall.com are good at this.

BTW, the majority of these online resources were recommended by my son’s teacher. To me, it’s amazing to see the collaboration between teachers and parents with online learning. When teachers and parents work together to help children learn – everyone wins!

Now tell me, what online resources do you like and why @weebootMom.

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