Today's technologies offer many resources to keep active young minds busy and learning!
Post collaboratively written with Abbas Hussain.
Just yesterday morning, there was an article in USA Today discussing how many of today’s students don’t feel particularly challenged by their school work. In this technology-enabled age, it is easier than ever to give advanced students the opportunity to pursue learning outside of the standard curriculum. The wealth of resources available across the Internet is expanding constantly, and there are many ways for the advanced student, who may be outpacing his or her regular academic work, to learn more about topics of interest and keep themselves challenged and engaged.
Below are a few different ideas for providing direction and resources to advanced students to keep them engaged and let them pursue a higher level of knowledge about the content you’re covering in class. (Of course, it is also important to consider a student’s age and maturity before allowing them to freely roam the Interwebs, so be sure to keep that in mind and designate resources and structure exercises with this in mind.)
Khan Academy and similar resources
A great resource for learning more about an impressively wide range of topics is the Khan Academy. There's a reason why the thousands of videos Sal Khan has created have been viewed over 160 million times and counting – students like them. Stop by the Khan Academy's YouTube channel and check out videos in the topic area you are teaching and consider assigning a couple of these videos as extra credit work. Add a few simple questions like, “identify two or more new things you learned from this video” or “did you like the way Mr. Khan presented this material, and if so, why?” and you've got an extra lesson for your bright pupil that doesn't take you a lot of work to create. For more academic video resources, check out “A Dozen Great Free Online Video Lecture Sites“.
Online Debate Discussion Forums
There are a variety of free discussion forums available online, like Proboards.com or QuickTopic.com. Microblogging platforms like Twitter can also be used for this (this brings an interesting twist to the process, as posts need to be limited to 140 characters). This type of tool can engage multiple advanced students at once. Once the forum has been set-up, the instructor's next step is to provide the students with the rules of etiquette. After the rules have been established, the students can participate in the online debate. The role of the instructor is to supply the topic and possibly act as moderators. This type of platform will provide the students with another way to share what they have learned, while they also learn from others in the class.
Online Mathematical Games Competitions
Another way to leverage online learning for the advanced student is to promote mathematical game competitions (this approach can be applied in other disciplines as well). This is a good technique to use because most advanced students like a challenge, especially among their peers. Once an instructor has covered a specific portion of the material, they can promote the competition. The competition can be offered to those who want to compete individually or in teams. For those who want to increase their grade average, the results of the competition can be used as a bonus. As for the mechanics to facilitate this, you may already have some online math tools at your disposal, and if not, you can consider competing using online math games – for example, this article offers 5 free iPad math games at a variety of levels, and there are many other math games online for use from PCs, Macs, or smartphones. Highest score or combined team scores win! By having multiple rounds, everyone can get a chance to win.
Online training courses and academic classes have become very popular over the last decade. A recent development in this area is the offering of Massive Open Online Courses, or “MOOCs”. Many of these are free, and some rae self-paced and on demand. These types of courses are predominantly geared towards higher education, but many of them are fine for advanced high school students. Click here to learn more and explore some MOOC resources.
These are just a few ideas – surely our readers have other ideas for how to give advanced students an opportunity to learn independently or in groups with the help of technological resources. If you have a technique you've considered or used in your courses, we hope you'll comment and share it. Thanks!
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
8 Great TED Talks About The Future Of Education And Teaching
The Gamification of Education and Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Learning Benefits
Exploring the Khan Academy’s use of Learning Data and Learning Analytics