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Top tech tips for home-schoolers

Top tech tips for home-schoolers

Chris Sainsbury, Founder and Managing Director, UX Connections

With little certainty about how long schools might be off limits, parents are understandably feeling weary and unsure about handling yet more home-schooling. Whether you are new to, or are well-versed in the vagaries of teaching children at home, especially when trying to work, my team figured that since knowledge is power, it would be worth sharing ours. With the caveat that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and that some ages are better suited than others to what we’ve come up with, we have pulled together some ideas about how, and where, the world of technology might be able to help parents and carers feeling less than enthusiastic about what’s ahead. Here are our top tips.

The software

We like Google’s suite, and have found that there’s plenty for both professionals as well as those across all stages of their education journey. Many teachers may be deploying Google Classroom to monitor the pupils’ progress, but there’s more, too. The suite is free to use (up to 15GB) with connected features and an easy to learn user interface. The real-time editing on documents can be useful for parents keen to monitor how their child is progressing from another room if they need to! The calendar can be used to add some structure to the day (e.g. 9-10am for Science) and, Google Drive can be used to store all work completed and can be viewed on multiple devices.

The Apps

Google Socratic, a study app for maths and other topics, enables users to take a photo of a question, which the app identifies, and shows steps on how to solve. In addition, the app not only offers the answer but also useful information as to the method used. A word of caution, however – the app might not know everything and artificial intelligence can lack a certain human touch.

Secondlylet’s be honest, from time to time most of us have been stumped by homework aimed at someone very much our junior in years. But help is at hand in the form of apps like Brainly, a community platform for homework and home-schooling. Users need only post a question or photo onto the app and other users can weigh in with assistance, or search for similar questions that have already been answered in the same topic area for immediate help.

For similarly baffling grammatical problems, Grammarly, a plugin to help with spelling, sentence formation and tone of voice, can help. This may be of particular use to children who need assistance with their spelling and developing their writing skills. The spellcheck is free but advanced features need to be paid for.

The ‘remote teachers’

Many parents, learning from previous lockdowns, might have built up a support network of friends and family to call upon to ‘remote-teach’ via Zoom or Skype for the odd lesson or hour, allowing some uninterrupted time for parents and carers to work. There are more official means of teaching to call upon too, and the Khan Academy, a free, not-for-profit institution providing quality online learning for ages 2-18yrs, is one of the better online learning tools available. TES and Twinkl, are also good, but come at a cost.

The BBC surpassed itself over the previous lockdown with its Bitesize programmes, available via IPlayer and targeted at specific age groups, and these are worth revisiting. Accessible, friendly, and age appropriate, and featuring some popular and familiar faces, there’s something for everyone.

Finally, the last – but possibly most important element of home school – may be the most difficult for working parents. And that is, of course, fresh air. No, the weather has not helped lately, but do try to get out, enjoy some non-digital time, and have a short break. You’ll all be glad you did.

Good luck.

 

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