Making a decision about what online learning platform to choose for your child is important. Prior to COVID forcing schools to go virtual, there were many products available. One beneficial outcome of school closures is that options for online learning have expanded. Caregivers still have questions about quality, safety, and whether their investment has resulted in their child’s learning. Here are a few items for caregivers to consider when choosing an online learning platform:
- A free trial. Any reputable online learning platform should allow a free trial for you and your child to explore and see what it has to offer. A free trial should allow your child enough time to have several opportunities for using it. A free trial is critical to determining the next item, which is….
- Kids like it. Does your child seem actively interested and willing to use the platform? And not just once or twice over 1-2 days. How about 1-2 weeks into the free trial? Ask them – what makes this fun? What makes this not fun? What would make online learning the most fun for you?
- Tracking progress. Look for a feature that provides you and your child with regular feedback on progress within the learning tool, for example, lessons completed, and, more importantly, in the learning of skills and knowledge.
- Safety. Is the platform password protected? How many ads appear and what kind of content do they include?
- Evidence. Testimonials and stories are important; but, actual research conducted by third parties on the impact of the product on student learning should be transparent and easily accessible on the website.
- Overall – does it work for you and your child? Consider if this product fits with your routines, interests, and goals as a family. Does it require a lot of adult guidance to use or can kids be pretty independent, for example? The only way you are going to see if online learning makes a difference for your child is by using it. You have a lot of options so be sure to find the right one that works best for you and your child!