Our country promises students a free education from Kindergarten through 12th Grade, but online resources are quickly turning students into lifelong learners by making education more fun and affordable for everyone. Through top educational websites and award-winning online course offerings, students are able to learn faster, dig deeper into subjects that interest them, and continue learning outside of the classroom.
Inside the classroom, teachers are getting creative using augmented reality to take virtual field trips, 3D printing to create models for engineering students, and cloud computing and document sharing to get students working collaboratively. While traditional brick-and-mortar schools can be limited by economics and geography, technology continues to make education more accessible for everyone, breaking down the barriers between the educational resources available to teachers and the learners who can benefit.
In short, if we can give students Internet access, we can give them a first-class education—both now and for years to come.
Best Education Websites to Enrich Learning and Expand the Classroom Experience
There are countless available online resources designed to both improve and expand education beyond the classroom walls. We’ve rounded up 5 great websites that are particularly innovative, accessible, and effective for students of all ages.
Today Khan Academy, one of the pioneers of free online education, is a household name. But many still think of Sal Khan’s videos as only a tool for individual use—perhaps for students who are struggling with a particular subject. The site is worth a revisit to see just how far it has come since the early days (over 10 years ago) when Sal Khan was sending individual YouTube tutorial videos to his cousin in Louisiana to help her advance her middle school math skills.
Pursuing his mission of providing a “free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere,” Sal Khan quit his job working for a hedge fund and expanded his efforts. Within the last decade, he’s created more videos in more subject areas to reach more learners. What he did not anticipate is the way his videos would transform the classroom. As teachers came across his videos, they evolved from supplementing their teaching with his videos to flipping their classrooms entirely so that Khan Academy videos carried the lion’s share of the lecture portion of a given course. Even more helpful for teachers, Kahn offers common core lessons in subject areas such as math, science, and language arts.
Khan has developed his program so that in recent years, teachers can use his entire program to give classroom students access to lecture material on their own time, at a relatively individualized pace, in the setting most comfortable for the learner. Learners can watch and rewatch instructional videos and then practice skills online. The program tracks their progress, identifying exactly where they are excelling and where they need more attention. This approach frees up instructors to focus classroom time on individual support and attention, maximizing meaningful teacher-student interaction—a phenomenon Khan refers to as using technology to “humanize the classroom.” More collaboration is happening and students are experiencing more academic success because they are able to get the support they need.
What budding filmmaker wouldn’t love a chance to take a film directing class taught by Ron Howard? Imagine improving your hoop skills with Stephen Curry? Ramping up your acting chops under the expertise of Helen Mirren? You can do all of these things and so many more through MasterClass, a website offering online classes taught by some of the world’s greatest minds. The site offers classes in a wide variety of subjects, from cooking to chess, fashion design, and comedy writing.
While Master Classes are not free, they are quite reasonable, especially when you consider that you have direct access to instructors who are among the best in their field. For $90, you can enroll in one class of your choice that you can access at your pace, in your favorite learning spot, and on your favorite device. For $180, you can take as many classes as you like over the course of a year. What a deal! You can even gift a special friend, family member, or student with a class.
MasterClass could be a great way for teachers to help students delve more deeply into a topic that interests them or add some expertise to a Unit Plan. Check out their Free Trial Offer to explore and get started.
If you didn’t much care for reading as a child, or simply had an education that didn’t require a lot of reading of the Classics, then you might be among the many working backwards to expand your literacy and education in Classic Literature. Project Gutenberg is for you—especially if you’re like most of us and love FREE. That’s right, over 57,000 eBooks at your fingertips for free without even having to leave your couch!
Project Gutenberg focus on older bodies of work for which the copyright has expired. The site is completely volunteer driven, with thousands of bibliophiles giving their time and talents to digitize, proofread, and record volume after volume for the sheer love of education. That means no registration or fees for you and me, but they happily accept donations to fund their project. The eBooks require no special apps for access—just your regular Web browser.
And if you discover that you are passionate about not only Classic Literature, but Project Gutenberg as well, they invite you to join their team of volunteers to help expand their offerings by working to digitize and/or record books.
Want to take college courses, but working full time leaves you no time to be a full-time student, or you’re just not into dorm life? Perhaps you hope to transition to a different career path and need a few specialized courses. Many universities now offer complete degree programs online, but one of our favorite online sites for higher education is Coursera, launched in 2012 by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Coursera offers online, pre-recorded video courses from some of the world’s top universities and educational institutions. As of 2017, the site has 149 partners from 29 different countries to bring together a variety of individual courses and course bundles across all kinds of fields and specialized areas of study.
Coursera courses range in price from $29 to $99 and include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. Upon completion of a 4-6 week class, students receive a shareable electronic Course Certificate. Additionally, Coursera offers full degree programs that allow students to “study the same curriculum, learn from the same professors, and graduate with the same credentials as on-campus students” for a fraction of the cost of an on-campus degree.
Coursera could provide an excellent enrichment opportunity for students who excel in certain course areas or have an interest in a particular field. Imagine being able to help students explore topics that interest them for as little as thirty dollars.
Sometimes, online communities can even connect teachers to real-world resources for their classroom. Ask pretty much any teacher if he winds up spending his own money on supplies and materials for his students, and you might be shocked to learn that the average American public-school teacher shells out upwards of $500 a year to stock the classroom with everything it needs to provide kids’ the best experience they can get. This is not the way public education should be, and this is why we love DonorsChoose.org.
Started in 2000 by a public-school history teacher in the Bronx, this nonprofit connects any public school classroom in America with donors just waiting to help out and make educational dreams a reality. The idea is simple: a teacher posts a need, and a donor makes it happen. Anything from books to field trips to technology tools to tempera paints can be posted. Donors get to choose the precise project they want to help fund. It’s a great way to help a school right in your own backyard or meet the needs of kids on the other side of the country in a community where funds are short. As the project comes to fruition, classes send thank you notes, pictures of the project, and a report to their donors. Kids feel the direct support and investment of their communities (be that local or national) while donors experience a full-circle personal connection and get to see exactly where their dollars go.
DonorsChoose.org welcomes every public school in America. To date, over 3 million donors and dozens of organizations have donated over $7,000,000. 79% of public schools are getting in on the deal. What an innovative way to put materials into the hands of students while inviting citizens to support public schools in a direct and personal way! Post your project online to get started.
Our interactive panels make a great foundation for incorporating technology in the classroom. They offer clear, HD viewing, easy to learn software and unmatched interactivity to get each student involved in the lesson plan. Schedule a Live Online Demo to see our panels and software in action.