Posts tagged with "learning"

Book illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Education Tips For Children

7 Ways to Ensure Your Child Gets a Good Education

The Oxford Method, a tutoring community, offers tips to help your child be successful in school

Over the last year, during the pandemic, there have been many kids who have struggled academically. This is in part due to the millions who have had to do online learning and find the setup difficult. Whether children are learning online, in person, via classroom, or through a combination of the three, there are things that parents can do to help them be more successful. Knowing what to do can help make a world a difference and reduce the struggling.

“Many parents are aware of the way their kids are struggling with school over this school year,” explains David Florence, professor and founder of The Oxford Method, a community that offers tutoring services around the country. “Rather than let them fall behind, it’s a good idea to take action and do what you can to help them keep up and even pull ahead.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 93% of households with school-age children report that their kids have engaged in some sort of distance learning during the pandemic. They also report that the vast shift in the way kids are learning has also caused digital inequality because some kids don’t have access to computers and/or the Internet. Whether students are learning online or in class, there are things parents can do to help them get a good education.

Here 7 ways to help ensure your child gets a good education:

  1. Sleep. It’s crucial for a child to get enough sleep each night, which will help them to be more focused, as well as improve their behavior, quality of life, and mental and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children ages 6-12 should get 9-12 hours of sleep per night, and teens ages 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Teach value. It usually starts at home whether or not a child values an education. Parents who want their kids to get a good education should instill a love of learning in their children and teach them to value the education they are getting.
  3. Get them help. If your child is struggling, you may be able to help them, but there also comes a time when kids need a tutor to step in. A good tutor can make a world of difference in ensuring that a child gets a good education. They can help ensure that students will not fall behind and that they will get the foundation they need to move on in a subject.
  4. Show them how. Oftentimes, kids don’t know how to effectively study for a test or to take notes when they are in class. Take the time to show them how to do it effectively, as well as how to stay organized with their schooling. When students are organized, they are more likely to succeed.
  5. Ask them questions. Be sure to ask your kids how it is going, if they got their homework done, if they need any help, or if there’s anything they need to be more successful. They like to know that you are interested in how they are doing, so it’s good to show an active interest.
  6. Get involved. It’s always a good idea if you can get involved with the school and have good communication with the teacher. That way you will be aware of what is going on and know how to help your child more. Teachers love it when parents take an active interest in their child’s education.
  7. Praise your kids. Help kids to know what they are doing is right or what they are doing is wrong. Praising and encouraging the kids builds their confidence and helps them to succeed as they grow.

“Just about every parent has the ability to help kids succeed with their academics, even if it’s ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed,” added Florence. “We help parents be successful, even those who don’t have the funds to pay for a tutor. Our mission is to help as many students to achieve as we can.”

The Oxford Method has over 100 tutors around the country, covering all subject areas. They offer online tutoring, as well as in-person and in-classroom options. Their tutoring services are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Instructors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, with many of them having a master’s degree, Ph.D., and at least four years of teaching experience. The Oxford Method works with their nonprofit, Social Actualization, Inc., by giving them 10% of all profits. The funds are used to provide free computers, high-speed internet, and instruction to underprivileged families in urban and rural America. Plus, 40% of their instructors are PhDs, 40% have a master’s degree, and 20% have only a bachelor’s degree.

The Oxford Method believes that education is the great equalizer and the best gift you can give the next generation. Subject areas include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as business, social studies, psychology, English, history, public speaking, study methods, test-taking, and more. To get more information about The Oxford Method, visit the website.

Digital Divide illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Digitally Disconnected

DIGITALLY DISCONNECTED

13 TIPS FOR HELPING BRIDGE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR CHILDREN DURING COVID-19

While social, racial, and economic disparities have always existed within the educational system, the COVID-19 pandemic is exasperating these inequities and widening gaps between students at a drastic rate. For families who can’t afford home computers, laptops, or high-speed internet access, remote learning is nearly impossible, and for students who already found themselves struggling before the pandemic, the prospect of more than a year of lost classroom time is a devastating blow. However, there are steps parents can take to shrink this digital divide, and there are resources available via schools, non-profits, and government initiatives that can help children access the technological tools they need to succeed. Indeed, Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, President and Founder of Children and Screens, notes that “the inclusion of 17.2 billion dollars for closing the ‘homework gap’ in the recently passed American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment for digital equity.”   
 
Several of the leading figures in the fields of public health, education, psychology, and parenting have weighed in with their suggestions on the best ways to combat the digital divide, and many will participate in an interdisciplinary conversation and Q&A hosted by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development on Wednesday, March 24, at 12pm ET via Zoom. Moderated by the Director of Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center Lee Rainie, the panel will engage in an in-depth discussion about the digital divide and actionable steps we can all take to bridge the gap. RSVP here.
 
1. DON’T WAIT, ADVOCATE 

While schools across the country are doing everything they can to make sure that children have access to the technology and connectivity they need for remote learning, the unfortunate reality is that many families still lack adequate resources. If your family is among them, says author and MIT Assistant Professor of Digital Media Justin Reich, know that you’re not alone and that there are steps you can take to advocate for what your children need. “Start with your school staff,” Reich recommends. “They’re often overwhelmed during this challenging time but be polite and persistent. If you run into a dead-end with your school system, consider reaching out to school libraries and youth organizations like The Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA to see what kind of support they might be able to offer.”
 
2. SCALE DOWN 

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor Dr. Wayne Journell agrees, pointing out that sometimes, despite their best efforts, teachers and administrators may not always know which students are struggling with connectivity issues. “Let teachers know if you have slow internet at home,” says Journell. “Sometimes detailed graphics and animations that look cute but have little relevance to the actual lessons being delivered can cause problems for students with unreliable internet. If teachers are aware, then they can scale down the ‘frilly’ stuff and still get the important content across.”
 
3. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF  

While it’s important for parents to speak up on behalf of their children, RAND Senior Policy Researcher Julia Kaufman, Ph.D., highlights the importance of encouraging children to express their needs, as well. “If your child does not have access to technology at home and is falling behind, make sure your child’s teacher knows the obstacles they’re facing and ask what accommodations will make it easier for your child to do assignments offline,” says Rand. “At the same time, help your child feel comfortable expressing any technology concerns or confusion to their teachers, including cases where they have the technology but cannot use it well.”
 
4. CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS 

One critical step that educators and policymakers can take in addressing the digital divide is to check their assumptions. They cannot – and should not – assume that students do or do not have access based solely on demographics such as family income level. “In addition, they cannot assume that providing access alone creates equity,” adds Dr. Beth Holland, a Partner at The Learning Accelerator (TLA) and Digital Equity Advisor to the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN). “This is a complex and nuanced challenge that needs both a technical and a human solution to ensure that students not only have access to sufficient high-speed internet and devices but also accessible systems and structures to support their learning.”

5. SURVEY AND MODIFY  

For teachers who are on the ground and in the classroom, checking your assumptions can be as simple as asking a few basic questions at the start of the term. “Survey students to determine the percentage of your population that doesn’t have home Internet access,” recommends former AAP President Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Once you know the divide, you can address it,” adding, “When planning 1:1 projects and choosing devices, for example, you can consider a device’s capacity for offline use. For those without Wi-Fi, a public library in the child’s neighborhood can also be an excellent resource.”

6. VOTE FOR CHANGE 

That parents and teachers need to worry about the digital divide at all is a failure on the part of our elected leaders, says Bates College Associate Professor of Education Mara Casey Tieken. “Contact your elected officials—local, state, and federal—and complain,” she suggests. “Write letters, call their offices, attend their legislative sessions, and make your voice heard. Join with other families whose children are impacted by this divide to amplify your message and use your vote to support lawmakers who understand the impacts of this divide, have a clear plan to address it and are willing to take action.”
 
7. MAKE BROADBAND A UTILITY  

Reich agrees, reminding those families who already have their needs met that they share in the responsibility to advocate for the less fortunate. “It’s our job as citizens to demand that we as a society give families and children the tools and resources that they need for remote learning now and in the future,” says Reich. “We need to advocate for a society where broadband is treated as a utility rather than a luxury good, and young people enrolled in schools and educational programs have access to computers for learning.”

8. CONCRETE INITIATIVES  

Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, advocates four concrete initiatives. “Establish a permanent broadband benefit, increase access to affordable computers, digital literacy and technical support, improve broadband mapping (including residential cost data), and support local and state digital inclusion planning.” By implementing these changes, Siefer says, policymakers can start to mitigate the digital divide. 

9. USE TECH FOR GOOD 

There are many reasons to consider equitable solutions along a “digital continuum” rather than the “digital divide;” a binary description leaves less room for nuanced and customized interventions. It may be imperative to fortify existing institutions, implement new governance structures and promulgate policies to confront disparities regarding working families. Antwuan Wallace, Managing Director at National Innovation Service, suggests that legislators consider a Safety and Thriving framework to increase family efficacy to support children with protective factors against the “homework gap” by utilizing technology to train critical skills for executive functioning, including planning, working memory, and prioritization. 
 
10. LEVEL THE FIELD 

Emma Garcia of the Economic Policy Institute emphasizes that guided technology education will be of great value after the pandemic. She says, “it will need be instituted as part of a very broad agenda that uses well-designed diagnostic tests to know where children are and what they need (in terms of knowledge, socioemotional development, and wellbeing), ensures the right number of highly credentialed professionals to teach and support students, and offers an array of targeted investments that will address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on children’s learning and development, especially for those who were most hit by the pandemic.”
 
11. APPLY FOR LIFELINE 

Research also shows that the digital divide disproportionately affects Latino, Black, and Native American students, with the expensive price of internet access serving as one of the main obstacles to families in these communities. “Eligible parents can apply for the Lifeline Program, which is a federal program that can reduce their monthly phone and internet cost,” suggests Greenlining Institute fellow Gissela Moya. “Parents can also ask their child’s school to support them by providing hotspots and computer devices to ensure their child has the tools they need to succeed.”
 
12. GET INVOLVED 

Learning remotely can be difficult for kids, even if they have access to all the technological tools they need. Research shows that parental encouragement is also an important aspect of learning for children, notes London School of Economics professor and author Sonia Livingstone. “Perhaps sit with them, and gently explain what’s required or work it out together.” She adds that working together is a great way that parents with fewer economic or digital resources can support their children. “And if you don’t know much about computers, your child can probably teach you something too!”
 
13. NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL 

When it comes to encouraging your children, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Reflect on the more nuanced ways your children learn and leverage accessible resources (digital and non-digital) to inspire their continued curiosity,” says University of Redlands Assistant Professor Nicol Howard. Leaning into your child’s strengths and interests will help them make the most of this challenging time.
 
While the move to remote learning may seem like an insurmountable obstacle for families that can’t afford reliable internet or dedicated devices for their kids, there are a variety of ways that parents can help connect their children with the tools they need. For those privileged enough to already have access to the necessary physical resources, it’s important to remember that emotional support is also an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to children’s educational success, especially during days as challenging as these. Lastly, it falls on all of us to use our time, energy, and voices to work towards a more just world where the educational playing field is level and all children have the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of their social, racial, or financial background.
 
About Children and Screens
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, enhancing human capital in the field, informing and educating the public, and advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness. For more information, visit Children and Screens website or contact by email here.
 
The views and opinions that are expressed in this article belong to the experts to whom they are attributed, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, or its staff. 

tech illustration by rita azar for 360 Magazine

JAIN Launches Online Degree Programs

JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) has announced the launch of JAIN Online to offer Undergraduate and Postgraduate Online Degree Programs, in Commerce, Management, Information Technology, and Humanities recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC). JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) is a world-class institution promoted by JAIN Group, with over 30 years of excellence in Education, Research, and Entrepreneurship.

The Chancellor of JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) Dr. Chenraj Roychand stated,

 “The changing landscape of education [has been] globally shaped by disruptions due to the pandemic and technological advancements has caused challenges as well as opportunities for the education sector. When Universities, as we have known them, are being forced to change, online education brings a paradigm change that not only helps in reaching the unreached, but also helps in differentiated program offerings in line with market demands. With JAIN Online, we are extending our commitment to provide high-quality and globally benchmarked education to the masses. The programs are designed in a way that also fulfills the needs of international students. With an industry-driven curriculum and cutting-edge technology, JAIN Online is set to reshape the careers of millions of students, making them global leaders and change-makers of tomorrow.” 

The efficient and robust Learning Management System (LMS) of the University provides a high degree of convenience and flexibility to the learners who can access videos, self-learning materials, virtual labs, assignments, quizzes, discussion forums, and live classes over the weekends from top-notch faculty members are drawn from across the globe. Personalized support is offered to the students to clarify their queries from a dedicated program manager. The learning hours and credits of the online degree programs are at par with the regular programs of the University.

With technology playing a major role in its teaching-learning methodology, the University is all set to deliver an exceptionally engaging and enriching learning experience for its students through its Learning Management System. The learners will additionally get access to live classes on 25 key skills for success and more than 16,000 courses on LinkedIn Learning, where they can learn as per their interests and get certified by LinkedIn and various industry partners like SHRM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, EC Council, IIBA, etc. The University also extends its Career Advancement Services to its students on JAIN Online to facilitate job placements with over 2000 hiring partners.

With this, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University) has become the first University in India to launch online degrees with prestigious Global Professional Bodies like ACCA – UK, CIMA – UK, CIM – UK, CIIS – UK, IOA – UK, CMA – US, and CPA – USA. The students would also be eligible for exemption of papers or get relevant professional memberships from these professional bodies on successful completion of the Online Degree Programs.

To know more about the programs, please visit this website.

 

Wonderworks image by Cher Murphy PR for 360 Magazine

WonderWorks Syracuse Reopens

After a Year of Pandemic Closure, WonderWorks Syracuse Reopens with a New Exhibit

The moment so many people have patiently waited for is here. WonderWorks Syracuse will officially reopen on March 26, 2021. While Canyon Climb ropes course re-opened in August 2020, WonderWorks has been closed for nearly a year due to the pandemic. With the reopening, WonderWorks will have new rules and covid safety measures to help keep people safe and socially distanced.

“We are thrilled to be able to get our doors back open and welcome people to come on in,” says Nicole Montgomery, general manager of WonderWorks Syracuse. “We know that people are ready to get out and do things, and we offer a great mix of fun and educational activities, with something for everyone in the family.”

Some of the changes that patrons can expect when visiting WonderWorks Syracuse include:

  • Being cashless. Be sure to bring an electronic form of payment or purchase your tickets online ahead of time because WonderWorks will no longer be accepting cash.
  • WonderWorks is reopening on a reservation basis only, which will keep its capacity to 50 people. It will only be allowing 50 people inside every 30 minutes.
  • The hours will be limited to start with, which is currently noon–6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and 11 a.m.–7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets will be available for advanced sale soon.
  • There will be COVID measures taken, such as staff health screenings and guest temperature checks before entering. Additionally, guests over the age of two must wear a face covering and everyone must adhere to social distancing of six feet.
  • WonderWorks is providing sanitizer stations throughout.

“Come on out and have some fun,” added Montgomery. “We have a lot to offer, including ropes courses, laser tag, rides, science exhibits and more.”

WonderWorks reopens with its newest exhibit that incorporates student artists. CNY Art: New York Youth Art Gallery held its first annual contest, the winning masterpieces will be on display for a year.

WonderWorks ropes course, called Canyon Climb, is the world’s largest suspended indoor ropes course. It offers three levels and 81 obstacles. Additional attractions include laser tag, where people can have fun strapping on a laser tag vest and competing in a fast-paced, action-packed battle of laser tag, a 4D XD motion theater, and various fun and educational zones. The zones focus on weather, light and sound, physical challenges, space discovery, imagination and art.

WonderWorks Syracuse recently launched some educational programs, including virtual learning labs and homeschool days. It also offers group rates, scouting programs, sensory days, birthday parties and corporate events.

To see a full list of COVID-19 safety measures being taken, visit the site.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the site.

For information on the exhibit, CNY Art: New York Youth Art Gallery, visit their website.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park, combines both education and entertainment into one venue. With over 100 hands-on exhibits, there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 71 mph hurricane-force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make life-sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment and experience zero gravity in our Astronaut Training Gyro. Nail it by lying on the death-defying Bed of Nails. WonderWorks is located in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Panama City Beach, Myrtle Beach, Syracuse and Branson. For more information, visit their website and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

E-Learning Illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Creative Ways of Learning

How the Pandemic Opened Doors for Creative New Ways of Learning

When the pandemic shut down schools in 2020, parents were forced to pay closer attention to what their children were – or were not – learning, and to take a more active role in their students’ education. It made for an unwelcome disruption in everyone’s lives. But within this homelife upheaval, the disruption of school also provided an opportunity to re-evaluate how learning takes place, and what families can do to make things better, says Emily Greene, the author of School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World.

We’ve gained a new perspective, and this is our chance to update our outdated education system for something better, to shift our mindsets, and to rekindle our children’s joy in learning from the inside out,” says Greene, who herself is a working mother of three children. “I think many of us are beginning to recognize and appreciate new ways of learning that do not necessarily conform to the traditional format of school. Outside of the school building, we’re seeing learning happen anytime, anywhere, with anyone, in formal and informal ways.”

But a question arises: If it’s time to rethink education in America, what is the way forward? For Greene, part of the answer involves simply setting aside outdated ideas about learning and embracing a new way of thinking about what school should be.

Parents don’t need to wait for the school board, teachers, or others to act. She says some steps they can take themselves include:

  • Unlearn outdated beliefs about school. The traditional model of education is over 100 years old, which means people need to unlearn it, Greene says. Among other things, school is viewed as a daytime activity in a brick-and-mortar building where children the same age learn the same things, and tests measure how well they’re doing. “Maybe we flip that,” Greene says, “so that we view learning as an anytime activity where kids of all ages have learning options, creative thinking is expected, and success is measured by curiosity rather than test scores,” Greene says unlearning has three steps. “First, we let go of status-quo beliefs that are no longer valid,” she says. “Second, we replace outdated thinking with a new mindset that could work better. Finally, we rebuild day-to-day life around a new way of thinking about school.”
  • Nurture curiosity. Children are naturally curious, but structured education doesn’t always allow them to follow their innate desires to know or learn something, Greene says. Parents can help nurture curiosity by asking children questions about what interests them, she says. Parents should also be sure to listen to their children and elicit questions from them rather than jump in with advice, opinions, and answers. “I remind parents that curiosity is innate. All children are naturally drawn to things they find interesting,” Greene says. “With practice, kids can learn to activate their curiosity to transform everyday learning into a more joyful experience.”
  • Encourage creativity. Schools don’t kill creativity, but the conformity required at school does smother it, “leaving it gasping for air,” Greene says. “Creativity is stifled by standardization, evaluation, and pressure to conform to the structure of the school system,” she says. Interestingly enough, the pandemic helped show children the importance of creativity and innovation, she says. “They saw stores and restaurants adapt to changing conditions by offering curbside pickup and social distancing,” Greene says. “Many kids watched their parents adapt to a new way of remote working. These things make an impression, showing children that creativity enables us to adapt and solve real problems.”

Through this pandemic, we have all suffered, but we also have learned so much,” Greene says. “The disruption of school gives us the perspective needed to make a lasting difference in the way our children learn. What a waste it would be to just settle back into our old ways.”

About Emily Greene

Emily Greene is the author of School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World in which she shares her experience educating her children inside and outside of traditional schools. She developed the Kiddovate program, working with hundreds of teachers and students. She also is co-founder of VIVA Creative, where she and her team create live and digital experiences. When the pandemic shut down the event industry, Greene co-led VIVA in rethinking how to bring people together in a global pandemic. In 2020, she received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year® award recognizing innovation during adversity.

Back to College by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

Emily Green Reinvents Post-Pandemic Education

The COVID-19 pandemic forced students, teachers, and parents to change their ways of doing things almost overnight as schools closed and learning went online. The situation left everyone scrambling – and often grumbling about the limited learning taking place under this hasty reinvention of how schools operate.

But, despite all the downsides, could this moment of school upheaval also be an opportunity to transform the nation’s education system into something better?

In her new book, School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World, author Emily Greene makes the case for just such a transformation as she shares her experiences with her three children and explores ways to encourage curiosity and creativity to create to a radical change in how we approach teaching and learning.

Greene writes: “It often takes a seismic disruption to change the way things have always been done. Before the pandemic, I jokingly said that it would take a cataclysmic world event, like an alien invasion, to truly disrupt education. While I could have never predicted this worldwide pandemic, its absolute disruption of school will change education forever and be studied in the history books for generations to come.”

In this book, readers will learn:

  • How to unlearn the current education system, setting the stage for replacing its outdated methods with creative new ideas that can work better.
  • Why it’s important to embrace the forgotten wonder of unscheduled time, when children can do what they like free from the constraints of school or outside planned activities.
  • How to cultivate children’s natural curiosity, which can lead to limitless opportunities for learning.
  • Why hands-on activities, such as drawing a picture or baking a pie, are critical supplements to the learning that takes place through reading a book or staring at words on a screen.
  • How to help your children follow their heart and find purpose and passion in the world.

About Emily Greene

Emily Greene is author of School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World in which she shares her experience educating her children inside and outside of traditional schools. She developed the Kiddovate program, working with hundreds of teachers and students. She also is cofounder of VIVA Creative, where she and her team create live and digital experiences. When the pandemic shut down the event industry, Greene co-led VIVA in rethinking how to bring people together in a global pandemic. In 2020, she received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® award recognizing innovation during adversity.

General Information

Title: School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World

Author: Emily Greene

Genre: Education, Parenting

ISBN-10: 1642252433

ISBN-13: 978-1642252439

Pages: 248                                    

Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Rolls-Royce Apprentices

Rolls-Royce announced Monday that a brand new intake of apprentices would be welcomed into the company.

18 new minds hailing from all across the UK will join the luxury vehicle titan at its home in Goodwood, West Sussex. They will be known as the “Class of 2020” in a program that began in 2006.

More than 150 aspiring engineers have entered the apprenticeship learning high-level practical and technical skills over the course of two to four years. They learn from Rolls-Royce specialists, gaining knowledge from the best minds in the company.

Of the 18 members of the “Class of 2020,” seven are candidates for the Sir Ralph Robins Degree Apprenticeship scheme, a four-year apprenticeship that grants students a degree from the University of Chichester upon completion.

Rolls-Royce is also providing placements in the industry for over 50 students. The placements last from six to 12 months. It also has a graduate program that makes new positions available every year.

Duolingo Amounts to Four University Semesters

Duolingo’s Spanish and French courses teach the equivalent of four university semesters of language classes in less than half the time, according to a study released today that compares reading and listening proficiency levels of French and Spanish learners. Consumers can sign up for free at Duolingo.com.

Among the study’s findings:

  1. After completing all beginner-level content in Duolingo’s Spanish and French courses, learners on average reached intermediate levels of proficiency in reading in both French and Spanish.
  2. These learners also approached or acquired “Novice High” proficiency level in Spanish and French listening.
  3. College students took four semesters of classes to achieve similar levels of proficiency.
  4. The median number of hours for Duolingo learners to complete the beginner materials was ~112 hours. By comparison, four semesters of university classes require ~240 hours, based on 4 hours of class time a week and 15 weeks per semester, not including hours spent outside of class.

“Our #1 focus at Duolingo is improving how well we teach,” said Bozena Pajak, head of learning science at Duolingo. “After three years of investing into improving our largest courses by aligning them with the CEFR, adding new content and new features like Stories & Tips, we’re proud to be able to share the results of our new efficacy research. The research demonstrates that Duolingo can be an effective tool for learning a language. The broader implications of this research are that online learning is not only convenient, but can also deliver high-quality education that is comparable with classroom instruction.”

Language skill was measured using the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency tests, a widely used assessment tool.

Rita Azar illustrates homeschooling article for 360 MAGAZINE

Homeschool Experts Recommend

Camping as a Virtual Learning Tool

With virtual schooling and family camping both skyrocketing as the result of COVID-19, Hip Homeschool Moms, a Parents magazine 2020 “Best Homeschooling Resource,” and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park have teamed up to help struggling parents create fun, educational learning opportunities.

According to Jellystone Park, reservations are spiking as many schools open virtually and parents work from home, allowing families more flexibility to travel.

“Whether parents are using online curriculums provided by schools or are homeschooling, it’s important that they find ways to make learning fun,” said Trish Corlew, co-founder of the website HipHomeschoolMoms. “Most kids need to do more than sit in front of a screen to learn, which is why we are such big fans of camping. It provides so many great, hands-on educational opportunities.”

Hip Homeschool Moms has these tips for parents on how to include a late summer or fall camping trip in their virtual or homeschool plans:

  1. Look for family friendly campgrounds, such as Jellystone Park.They offer activities that entertain and educate kids, such as Bingo and arts and crafts, which supplement planned learning. They also provide socialization opportunities that are needed with classrooms closed and homeschool field trips and other activities on hold.
  2. Involve the kids in planning and managing the trip.Part of the learning experience is allowing kids to help with researching campgrounds, setting the budget for the trip and buying necessary supplies. And once you’re at the campground, let the kids help take care of the RV or cabin. They love responsibilities like these because it makes them feel grown up. These are life skills they will soon need.
  3. Check the campground’s Wi-Fi in advance.
    Call the campground to make sure it offers sufficient Internet access. If not, rent or buy a mobile hotspot to make sure you have enough bandwidth for online lessons, movie streaming and staying in touch with friends, family and work.
  4. Use online lessons and apps.Online lessons perfect for camping are widely available to help children study leaves, trees, rocks, flowers and wildlife. There also are apps designed for outdoor learning, as well as printable activities and games to take with you.
  5. Read and walk together.Camping provides the ideal environment to spend time as a family. Read aloud together, taking turns on different pages to help reluctant readers improve their skills. Or have the kids read independently and share what they learned. Scavenger hunts with printed or app-based guides encourage togetherness and learning.
  6. Visit local attractions.Many campgrounds are located near natural and historic sites. Consider stopping at some on the way to or from your campground. Museums and science centers can make for great day trips, especially on rainy days.
  7. Encourage your children to share what they learn.Kids love to tell stories, take pictures and produce videos. Have them record the weather, plants and animals they observe, and their activities. Journaling and scrapbooking also are great ways to get the most educational value from a trip and to preserve memories.

“Even before the pandemic, fall camping had become extremely popular with families, especially with most Jellystone Park locations offering special fall events, such as Halloween weekends,” said Trent Hershenson, Jellystone Park vice president of Marketing. He encourages parents to book trips now and to consider weekday visits, as weekends book up quickly. Weekday rates also may be lower.

For more advice on educational camping and links to free lessons and guides, visit here.

For tips on planning a family camping trip and to book a reservation at one of more than 75 Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, visit here.

Links to video of kids learning while camping here and here.

music Ivory Rowen illustration for 360 Magazine.

Music Educators Teaching Online

K-12 musical instruction and performances may look different this fall, but the beat will go on thanks to creativity and music-making technologies, says a Purdue University expert.

“There are so many online tools out there that music educators can use to bring students together during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christopher Cayari, assistant professor of music education in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance at Purdue. “One option is for programs to host online concerts or performances through the recording and mixing of virtual ensembles and individual performances.”

Platforms like Soundtrap by Spotify and Protools are great resources for sound editing. Other softwares like Flipgrid and Adobe Premiere do video editing, while Acapella by PicPlayPost and BandLab are compilation apps available for mobile devices to create musical productions amid the pandemic. Cayari encourages music educators to experiment with these softwares to make music with their students, and the skills they develop while distance learning can then be carried into physical classrooms after the pandemic is over.

 “Putting together a virtual ensemble can be difficult, but I have seen many tech-savvy educators or sound engineers helping music educators create virtual performances,” Cayari said. “Students can also collaborate with one another to create anything from karaoke videos to vlog projects. The great thing about technology is that students can collaborate with others without geographical restraint.”

For the last 10 years, Cayari has researched online music making and virtual performances, focusing most of his attention on YouTube and how the platform has changed the way people create, consume and share music. According to Cayari, online music-making projects, research, technologies and literacies occur within three dispositions:

  • Do-it-yourself: “There are many avenues for do-it-yourself projects thanks to social media or audio recording websites like SoundCloud or Bandcamp. This method is great for students because it allows them to learn for themselves about the aspects that go into music recording projects.”
  • Do-it-with-others: “Online music making isn’t a new concept. For many years, people have been collaborating with others to create music and connect with one another through the production of music.”
  • Do-it-for-others: “These type of performances are organized projects where individuals submit their own performances and someone else pulls it all together. Everyone from the organizer to the performers to the editors have a hand in creating something for the enjoyment of others.”

This week, a special issue of the Journal for Popular Music Education, co-edited by Cayari and Janice Waldron from Windsor University in Ontario, Canada, was released that focuses on learning, performing and teaching, which includes international research about how music teachers are using the internet to teach students.

About Purdue University

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