Right now, students and parents around the country are adapting to a new normal. They’re figuring out how to learn from home, creating and keeping new schedules, interacting with online platforms, and following lesson plans. Most students have access to resources provided by their schools, such as articles, workbooks, and textbooks. However, this material can get a little boring, and for students who want to explore subjects more deeply, the material might feel limiting. Fortunately, you’re in control of your education at home. You can make use of outside learning support and supplemental education to craft your own study plan. There are lots of free resources available; you just need to know where to look.
Learn how to maintain your momentum at home with our post full of helpful tips!
Learning Support through Virtual Tours
Museums all over the world are currently closed to visitors. However, you don’t have to go to a museum to see its exhibits. Many major museums now offer virtual tours for online visitors. Through videos, interactive media, and even Google Street View-style walkthroughs, you can access museums from your computer. This allows you to easily incorporate primary source materials into your study plan and explore.
There are loads of virtual tours available, and more are going online every day. Here is a list of some top picks:
- The Louvre
- Smithsonian Natural History Museum
- Sistine Chapel
- Google Arts and Culture
- San Diego Zoo
- Museum of Fine Arts Boston
- Mayflower Society House Plymouth
- Pérez Art Museum Miami
MOOC Supplemental Education
Not to be confused with mooks, MOOCs are “massively open online courses.” MOOCs allow students to easily enroll and study diverse subjects, such as art criticism, economics, and circuit design. Just like other courses you might take, MOOCs come with syllabi, lessons, homework, and quizzes. Also, they’re often taught by university professors. While not all MOOCs are free, many are.
MOOCs are an easy, low-stakes way to study subjects that interest you. Find something you want to learn and go after it. The two most popular MOOC sites with plenty of free material are Coursera and edX.
Online Learning Support and Discussions
If you’re interested in online lessons and discussions, but don’t want to sign up for a full-blown course, there is a wealth of materials available. YouTube channels such as Youtube Learning and TED offer curated videos and playlists from experts in a wide range of fields discussing simple and complex topics. Podcasts, including Philosophize This!, Song Exploder, 99% Invisible, Radiolab, and TED Talks Daily offer free education and insight that is easy to consume at your convenience.
Need test prep and tutoring help? Livius offers effective, personalized, free to low-cost courses that are easy to work into your schedule. This includes AP test prep, ACT and SAT test prep, and an elementary ed booster class.
Local Library and Interlibrary Loan
Social distancing means no browsing at your local library right now (if it’s even open). Fortunately, most libraries are tech-savvy, allowing you to browse and request books through their website for pickup.
Moreover, most public libraries participate in some form of interlibrary loan. If your local library doesn’t have a book you need, interlibrary loan allows you to order library books from other libraries within the system and check them out through your local branch. Some interlibrary loan services allow you to request document scans, as well, if you don’t need an entire book. Just like requesting books for pickup, an interlibrary loan can be completed online.
Note: the availability of these services vary from location to location. Visit your local library’s website for more information.
Free Books Online
We understand you might prefer to own a book than to borrow it. However, buying new books can get expensive. The good news is that most classic books are in the public domain, and so they are widely available for free. Sites such as Open Library and Project Gutenberg provide thousands of freely available books. Formats range from plain text, to downloadable PDFs, to e-reader files. If you’ve been meaning to read Paradise Lost or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, strolling the digital book stacks can be enriching.
Yet another library-like service, the Internet Archive is a huge repository of media. The Internet Archive is full of creative commons and public domain materials, including films, audio recordings, journal articles, books, and even arcade games. Exploring the Internet Archive can lead to lots of interesting discoveries and artifacts, such as early Cold War-era PSAs.
The Internet Archive is also home to The Wayback Machine, a tool that allows users to crawl and archive web pages. Through the Wayback Machine, users can study how the internet has changed over time. Want to see what specific web page looked like when it went live 20 years ago? Want to archive a page that you think may get deleted? Just punch in the URL that you desire.
Language Learning Apps
Apps are a great, convenient learning tool for a variety of subjects, but especially foreign languages. One of the keys to learning a language is regular, consistent practice and exposure. Unfortunately, this is often where most language learners fall short, with many failing to practice daily. Language learning apps such as DuoLingo help simplify language learning. Through the convenience of your smartphone, and through gamification, these apps can supplement your studies and help learn a language.
Don’t let yourself get isolated. Studying with others, having discussions, and sharing resources can be great ways to supplement your studies and fend off loneliness. Social media isn’t just for sharing memes and selfies. There are many general and private Facebook groups built around home study, subjects, and demographics, just for starters. Avoid the urge to endlessly scroll. Instead, log on and search for groups that might help you achieve a goal.
Gather the Learning Support you Need
There are lots of options available for supplemental education, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The best approach is simple and focused. Think about what you need, build your schedule, and supplement it with materials like those above. This allows you to incorporate variety, without trying to cover too much material.