When you imagine a classroom, what do you see? It’s likely that you conjure up an image of students sitting in desks, looking at a teacher. Perhaps the teacher is at a white board. While this is certainly a fair depiction of a classroom, a new picture is coming into focus. Right now, e-learning is drastically changing the way people choose to learn. Everyone from grade school students to adults can learn online. Some students will take classes for fun or watch educational videos, while others will get their entire education online.
By digitizing the learning experience, we are able to eliminate some of the barriers that previously stopped people from going to school. Stay-at-home parents, children who do not learn well in a classroom environment, soldiers and working professionals can take classes easily. And since more and more businesses are moving their professionals online through the use of webinars and social media marketing, these students might be better prepared for the workforce.
But e-learning brings about its own set of challenges. For instance, how can teachers engage their students when they are not in a classroom? And how can students find the motivation to study, the discipline to stick to a schedule, and the assistance they need when they are struggling? That’s where e-learning tools come in. These tools help students succeed and reach their fullest potential.
Here are some of the best tools for e-learners. When selecting e-learning tools, it's important to take into account a few factors. The best tools are user-friendly for both teachers and students. They should also offer a way for students to either work easily with others, connect in a meaningful way with their instructors, or gain helpful tools to improve their study and learning skills.
Students and teachers can talk face-to-face or over Skype chat. If students are put into small groups for projects, they can easily communicate via Skype to make the most of their time.
PlagTracker is a huge help for e-learners. Since all assignments are submitted online, it’s essential that they are completely original and plagiarism free. PlagTracker compares your work to everything on the Internet to make sure it’s all your own work.
Edmodo is a social networking site to connect students and teachers. Students can easily ask teachers for help, and teachers can grade assignments virtually. Parents can also benefit from Edmodo because it lets them stay up to date about what their kids are learning at school.
Kahoot! creates quizzes and questionnaires that can be accessed from a variety of devices. It’s great for teachers who want to find fun ways to engage their students. The app gamifies the learning experience, so students actually want to participate.
5. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a free online “university” with high-quality videos for online learners. The website is bringing education away from institutions and making it more accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. It recently partnered with College Board to provide free SAT prep to students.
Essay Mama is a really helpful website where students can interact with professional writers online, get advice on better formatting or writing techniques, and then use that information to improve their projects and essays. The site contains an essay writing guide, glossary of essay terms, citation generator and a blog with useful tools and advice for students. There are also quarterly essay writing contests where students can win cash prizes while practicing their writing skills.
Udemy is a collection of e-courses created by educators and professionals. Some courses are free while others cost several hundred dollars. The courses range from creative topics like photography and writing to technical topics like computer engineering and Java. If you are curious by nature, this might just become your favorite website.
If you are interested in learning another language, Duolingo can make it easy. The free site offers lessons in over 30 of the most popular languages to learn. Move through levels, unlock prizes and become fluent without noticing you’re working for it.
9. Crash Course
Crash Course is a YouTube channel that teaches classes like literature, biology, chemistry, history and more. The site is hosted by author John Green and his brother Hank. The videos are 10 to 15 minutes long, and the founders encourage teachers to use them freely.
Prezi lets users easily make presentations they can they share with other users or across social media. Teachers can feel comfortable assigning large projects, and students will learn the fundamentals of design and graphics.
11. Study Blue
Study Blue has a huge collection of study guides and flashcards created for students, by students. The material is geared toward middle school and high school students.
Quizlet is similar to Study Blue insomuch as it allows users to create flashcards, study guides and games to help in studying. But it also lets you access these tools across a variety of devices, so you can study whenever you have a few minutes.
13. Focus Booster
Focus Booster lets you increase your productivity using the “Pomodoro Technique,” in which you work consistently for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. You repeat this cycle as many times as necessary to stay on track and complete your work.
LightSail is a massive online library of over 80,000 books for students. In addition to the books, there are in-text assignments and quizzes. Teachers can assign tasks directly from the library.
As its name promises, RescueTime can save time throughout the work or school day. The app monitors how users spend time online, provides valuable insight and lets users track progress on important projects.
As more people embrace the notion that they can learn anywhere and anyway that they want to, the elearning industry will continue to grow. And learners are only limited by their time and willpower.
Julie Petersen is an educator, a private English language tutor and a content marketing specialist. She runs the educational blog AskPetersen.com.