Back to School at Home; Communities, Resources, and Apps to Enhance Education

This sponsored article was written by T.J. McCue, a Seattle-based technology writer and consultant. His work appears in publications including Forbes.com, Small Business Trends, American Express OPEN Forum, and the Harvard Business Review.

As children head back to school, the world of K-12 education is increasingly available at home. Students can supplement their lessons with online programs. Learning from home is not only for those in homeschool programs, but for those in public and private schools as well.

Technology makes it possible to give children access to the best educational resources, from iPad games (such as Tinybop’s adorable anatomy app The Human Body [$2.99, ages 4+]) to the nonprofit Khan Academy which offers over 4,000 free instructional videos and hundreds of practice exercises on various K-12 topics. The Verizon Foundation also has an education-focused website called Thinkfinity that is loaded with ideas and resources.

Collaborative communities like ePals, Schoology, and Edmodo make it possible for parents, teachers, and students to study within safe and protected online environments. Many of these tools are accessible on traditional computers, but also on mobile phones and tablets.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report: Teens and Technology 2013: “Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive.” However, tablet computing is on the rise (which typically leverages at home internet access and not mobile data plans) with one in four teens (23%) owning a tablet, a level comparable to the general adult population.  In addition:

  • Nine in ten (93%) teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.

There is no shortage of online resources, but a simple Google search won’t always get you there quickly, so we listed out a few additional places you’ll want to visit:

When you need to dive deeper on a topic: Many universities offer open courses available for free on the web. MIT has its OpenCourseWare with a special site dedicated to high school learners.

Finally, an incredibly comprehensive list of K-12 resources on almost every topic imaginable, from free audio books to physics comic books, comes from the website Open Culture: 200 Free Kids Educational Resources. As back to school advertisements continue, children know that the best resources are waiting for them when they get home.