Selecting an online crash course on new-age subjects like coding and robotics for kids: Guidelines for parents

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The unprecedented crisis in the field of education for kids in the past one and a half years has led to the closure of face-to-face classroom learning opportunities and the educational activities have been migrated to a new virtual course platform that has its own pros and cons. When a set of independent self-disciplined learners find it easier to adapt to the changes and perform well, a few who need constant support and guidance through face-to-face coaching and mentoring still lag behind. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

As we are preparing to return to school, we have to accept the undeniable fact that online learning most likely will continue in one form or another and many would start thinking of an online class as a post-school activity. Many parents will look for an online crash course as they benefit their kids in multiple ways by helping them find to find new interests, develop skills beyond the classroom in less time, and above all enhance their classroom performance and learning outcomes.

It is an undeniable fact that choosing a perfect crash course for kids is a challenging task for many parents and when they think of one, computer coding and design engineering often top the list. Researches indicate that innumerable job opportunities are being created in these fields at a rapid pace. There are multiple platforms available for the parents to choose from and many parents feel overwhelmed by the breadth of choices available. Here are a few tips to help parents make more informed decisions.

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  1. Identify the Purpose.

The first principle of selecting a crash course is that you are clear about why you want your child to do this course. Parents have varying priorities and focus on different aspects of their child’s development. Some may want their kids to enhance their academic performance and they need to choose a course that will be an extension of his/her classroom learning whereas some parents may be aiming at their kids being constructively engaged in activities and learn a new skill. There may be a few other parents who will be focusing on the career development of the kids and dream of developing the little ones into Whizz-kids.

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  1. Begin with the End in Mind.

Once you are clear with the purpose the parents can define the outcome. What do I expect from my child at the end of this course? Setting clear expectations will not only boost the morale of the kids but also give them direction and add value and seriousness to what they are learning.

3. Duration

Another important criterion should be the duration and the schedule. As parents know the best suitable time for the kids, how long and when can their kids comfortably learn, it is of utmost importance that they choose a course accordingly. This will help the kids to sustain their interest in the course and achieve the desired outcomes.

3. Delivery-Asynchronous Vs Synchronous.

Is your child self-disciplined, self-motivated, and an independent learner?

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 Does he/she not prefer following specific schedules and processes? Then it is always better to choose an asynchronous online program that is self-paced. The program allows them to complete their work within a stipulated time as is convenient for them, receive immediate feedback on coursework, and schedule group work, if any, when it’s convenient for everyone. They can go through the instructional materials at any time at their convenience. On the contrary, kids who need monitoring and guidance can choose an asynchronous online programme that demands attending online classes as per the schedule and their performance will be constantly monitored by the instructors. These are more rigorous than the asynchronous online programs. 

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  1. Curriculum-Course Structure

The selection of the curriculum involves various factors, not merely the course content. One should know who has designed it. A curriculum designed for kids involving various disciplines including arts will have a scope of catering to the needs of different types of learners. This will help the students to learn better and get the feeling of being involved and engaged in the learning process, which leads to better learning outcomes. Remember to select a course catering to the age group of the kids.

  1. Credibility, Effectiveness, and Accountability.

As in the case of any service provider, the above stated to determine the success and efficiency. Timely delivery of the course materials, quality of the team, timely feedback, and follow-up mechanism play a vital role in determining the effectiveness and quality standards of the program. However, determining the effectiveness of a course depends on the purpose and desired outcome set for the kids, and the course must be assessed according to these. 

  1. The Instructional Team – Who and How

A well-qualified, experienced team with domain expertise is also an important factor. Understanding who is going to teach your child should be well probed into and interacting with them will provide insight into how well your child is going to connect with the faculty members. How well they can connect with the kids is a key to develop an interest in the subject and thus achieve the desired outcome.

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  1. Opportunities for Peer Group Learning and Student Interaction 

One of the major disadvantages of an online program is that kids get very limited or no opportunities for interactions with their peers. This directly or indirectly depends on the class strength. An overcrowded, as well as classroom with very few students, limits the scope for peer group interactions and collaborative learning. A homogeneous age group is to be preferred over a heterogeneous one.

  1. Opportunities for Hands-on Minds-on Activities.

An online coding or design engineering class, if it does not integrate hands-on minds-on activities will prove to be ineffective as they are focusing on developing skills and as we know, skill development requires practical experience and there should be adequate scope for these activities within the structure of the curriculum.

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8. Real Reviews from Real People.

A reliable way to make more informed decisions is to ask other parents whom you personally know about their experiences. Online parent communities are also a good way to gather the required information. Also, research what the reputed and credible organisations with no conflicts of interests say about specific courses offered.

If you keep these things in mind rather than making decisions under the general perception that high costs indicate high-quality standards, you will end up achieving the desired outcomes.

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Siny K Gopinath

Principal, Orchids-The International SchoolAbout The Author: Siny K Gopinath holds graduate degrees in Physics and Education and Post-Graduation in English Language and Literature with a specialization in Linguistics and ELT. She also is a recipient of Certification from the prestigious Cambridge International in Education Leadership. She has a qualitative experience of over 25 years as a progressive educator that includes 14 years as Principal of top branded schools in India.

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