Online learning opportunities have exploded in recent years, meaning the number of options can be overwhelming. Are you a parent looking for educational experiences your kids can engage in from home? We’re explaining the different types of online learning and sharing some of the best available programs so you can make the next choice for your student!
What are the Different Types of Online Learning?
Online learning is a broad umbrella of many different types of learning that occur on a computer or other electronic device. Within this umbrella are four main categories: virtual learning, online school, homeschool online curriculums, and e-learning.
Virtual learning, which grew during the Covid pandemic when in-person learning was limited, takes components of what happens in a classroom and puts them online. Public school districts may offer virtual or distance learning as an alternative to being in the classroom.
Online school includes public online learning options that are tuition-free and private tuition-based programs. Parents may choose this option because the traditional classroom setting isn’t working for their child’s health, academic, behavioral, or other needs. Find out what online programs are available in your state.
Homeschooling parents take on responsibility for teaching their children while meeting state standards rather than the public school system. Parents may build a unique curriculum or use accredited online homeschool programs that typically have a subscription or tuition fee.
On the other hand, E-learning offers self-paced activities through an educational platform. There are several types of e-learning, including lesson-based, one-on-one, group, video-based, self-paced, or game/activity-based. Most often, these are not accredited classes taken for credit.
Best Online School Programs
Connections Academy offers K-12, tuition-free online curriculum currently in 31 states. Each student follows a Personalized Performance Learning® plan designed specifically for them with individualized online assignments and teacher support as needed. The curriculum has been aligned to local standards, uses certified teachers to support and evaluate students, and students are required to take state standardized tests. Connections Academy does not offer a homeschool option.
Stride K12 offers a similar tuition-free public school available in 30 states, online private school options, tutoring, and individual courses. Their Stride Career Prep offers career readiness opportunities such as internships, career coaching, networking, and career-related courses.
Time4Learning is an online PreK-12 homeschool subscription-based homeschool curriculum. Standards-based, flexible, and student-paced, students can log in from anywhere on their schedule to complete courses. Courses include online learning, printable worksheets, and hands-on activities. Parents new to homeschooling will also appreciate their free Welcome to Homeschooling guide and other helpful resources.
Bridgeway Academy provides fully accredited, tuition-based homeschool programs with unlimited support, scheduling flexibility, and personalized learning plans. Parents and students can join their online community for social connections, clubs, and parent coffee chats. Families can choose between live online classes or inquiry-based lessons.
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Best E-Learning Programs
ABC Mouse provides kids ages 2-8 with interactive learning activities with a monthly subscription. The Step-by-Step learning paths include a learn-to-read system, plus math, science, and social studies lessons. The colorful, gamified platform with incentives makes learning fun and motivating for young students.
Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that partners with schools, teachers, and parents to provide free instructional videos. These lessons include a personalized learning dashboard so students can learn at their own pace outside the classroom. Classes supplement or improve in-school learning for struggling students or challenge those interested in going above and beyond typical school offerings. While course credit is not offered, standard and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are available to help students prepare and improve their grades.
edX provides college-level courses from some of the country’s top institutions, including MIT, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkely. Its vision is a “world where every learner can access education to unlock their potential, without the barriers of cost or location.” Students can access courses from data science to engineering to medicine and earn certificates and degrees online for as low as $166 per credit, no application required.
CK-12 provides free, open-source, high-quality, customizable educational content that accommodates multiple student learning styles and levels. Students can access basic curriculum classes and creative content with videos and practice activities. The Play, Learn, Interact, Explore (PLIX) series teaches complex math and science concepts with interactive graphics and games, for example.
Ready to supplement your child’s current education, switch to online learning, or begin a homeschooling journey? These resources will help you get started!