"If I'd have had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter" ~Blaise Pascal
As we wind down one of the most interesting summers in recent history, the topic on the top of every parent’s mind with school-aged children is, “When can they go back to school?” Driven, obviously, by their parental desire for their children to get the best education possible, many are eagerly looking forward to the news that schools are open and the kids’ schedules are back to normal.
Unfortunately for some, not all schools will be moving forward with traditional schedules this fall. In conversations around the neighborhood this summer, reviews were, definitely, mixed as to the effectiveness of the various online learning experiences that schools adopted last school year. While some students were engaged and eager to learn in certain classes, the same student may have been perplexed, or even bored, with the content in another class. Clearly, some presenters have adapted more successfully than others to the new forms of delivery of education. While challenges abound, the new reality of education is actually putting more power, more flexibility, and more resources to provide excellent education to all levels of learners in this post COVID-19 environment.
For those with school-age children, check out The Kahn Academy. A non-profit founded in 2008 by Sal Kahn, who was recording videos to tutor one of his cousins in math. The Kahn Academy delivers a full curriculum of subjects by grade level K-8, all for free. Do you have a student who is struggling (or conversely, highly interested and looking to accelerate their learning) with 5th grade math? Click for a video on how to divide fractions. Eager to know more about High School physics? Click to learn about simple harmonic motion, from professional educators, at your own pace. Ready to prep for your SAT? It’s there. Problems using the Laplace Transform to solve a differential equation? Well, maybe it’s time to go outside and play for a while.
Kahn is not the only resource. Several efforts have been developed over the past decade to provide ongoing retraining and higher education for learners of all levels, including those of us that may need a bit of new training to compete and thrive in the post-pandemic business environment. Take for instance Singularity University. Originally designed for executive education, check out their Exponential Families model. It has been designed to create multi-generational learning experiences that bring family members together to explore how exponential technologies may affect your businesses, investments, and philanthropic initiatives.
Check into Udacity, an online university specializing in the education topics of the future, including Data Sciences, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Autonomous Systems, and others. It was started by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig to offer their space-restricted course, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” to anyone, online, for free. Having over 160,000 students in 190 countries register for the class, Thrun and Norvig were inspired to democratize education at a global level. Your student who might not be engaged in their current home economics class might find more to their liking in Udacity’s “Introduction to Programming” course. Many courses are still free, go explore!
Closer to home, Salesforce, the CRM software platform we use at Cascade has developed an extensive online training library called “Trailhead.” It is free for everyone, whether they are a Salesforce customer or not. Trailhead currently offers almost 800 separate learning modules. Not only can you train to be a certified Salesforce administrator (a credential in very high demand among us Salesforce users) but explore other areas as well. Want to build your Apex Coding Skills? Click away. Want to learn to build apps on AppExchange? It’s all there. Want to learn how to develop new implementation of Alexa’s voice interface? There’s a module. Is Blockchain of interest, want to learn more about contact tracing, or become a Slack developer? It’s free.
But wait! I’ve had enough school! I was thinking about taking that “Gap Year” to find myself and pursue my dream of seeing the world!
Got you covered there too! Try a virtual gap year at WorldlyXP.
IN SHORT: The new education environment is changing the way we learn. As with many industries, COVID-19 is driving rapid advancement, for the better, in terms of access to high quality education for learners at all levels, even us “older dogs” who might need to learn a few new tricks to stay competitive. Embrace these new tools, and welcome back to school!
Make it a great day!
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