Online Learning For Kids and Adults

Category: Education

Distance learning and online schools are some of the fastest-growing and most useful applications of the Internet for school-age children, adults pursuing continuing education, and anyone who wants to learn a new skill. No matter what your situation or preferred learning mode, there is probably an online school that can accommodate your needs. Read on...

Is Online School the Right Choice?

The phrase "back to school" could very well mean "back to the laptop" for lots of people. Many parents choose home-schooling for a variety of reasons, adults may be looking for new skills to improve their employment prospects, and others are just eager to learn. Here are some online programs for students of all ages. is widely used by public school districts to provide distance-learning to school children who need this option. Consequently,’s programs are free to families, paid for by local school districts.

According to the company, “Master teachers, cognitive scientists, subject-matter experts, technologists, interactive designers, writers, and researchers—who share a deep expertise in their areas of focus and a passion for shaping young minds the right way—develop the K12 curriculum.” Interested parents can find a program that is tailored to their local school board’s requirements at’s site.

Online School options

Private, tuition-charging online schools for the K-12 demographic are also available. They range from religion-oriented home-schooling curricula such as that offered by Heritage Christian Online Homeschooling to K12 International Academy, which is accredited in the U.S. - meaning its diplomas are accepted by colleges, an important factor to consider when choosing an online school.

Adult learners have a vast array of online education options from which to choose. Associate, Bachelor, and Master degrees are available through Ashford University, American Intercontinental University, and many others.

Give Me Some Credit!

See my previous articles Free Online College Courses, Free Online College Courses - Part Deux and Free Online College Courses - Part Three for even more online learning options, from top-ranked colleges and universities.

But be careful when shopping for such a program; read my article, “Are Online Universities Accredited?” to learn how accreditation affects transferability of credits and eligibility for financial aid and scholarships, and how to avoid financial aid scams pushed by some online schools.

MOOCs - Massively Open Online Courses - have proliferated as popular continuing education opportunities that satisfy informal autodidacts as well as career-minded professionals who need certified courses to maintain their licenses. My article, “More Online College Courses” delves into the MOOC world to explain how to get an advanced degree or just stay current in your field.

One of the best-known MOOC providers is Edx, which partners with colleges such as Harvard, CalTech, Columbia, and many other top-tier institutions. Edx’s Global Freshman Academy offers over 500 courses; some are free, the rest cost less than half the typical credit-hour price charged by physical schools. It’s a good option for getting basic freshman course credits or brushing up on skills that may have rusted over the past few years.

Coursera is an online education platform hosting free courses from hundreds of universities all over the world. It’s served nearly 14 million students so far.

Khan Academy offers a wide range of free online courses, with the promise that "you can learn anything." Math, science, computer programming, history, art, economics are just a few of the online classes you can take here. Khan is a great resource for high school or college students who need help with a subject, or for adults who want to learn a new topic or skill.

Udemy offers over 65,000 online courses taught by experts. You can learn computer programming, web design, photography, business skills, music and many other topics. If you have expertise in a certain field, you can even create your own online course at Udemy.

And of course there's Youtube. You can find lots of really helpful "how-to" videos on almost any topic. I find Youtube especially helpful when I need to fix something. I've found instructional videos that helped me repair my own washer, dryer, and lawn mower, without calling in a repair technician. You can find videos that show you show to play songs on the guitar or piano, or how to make a cup of coffee float in the air.

Distance learning options are abundant. While they do not provide “the college experience” of physical schools, many students would prefer to skip the distracting hijinks of a typical college campus. Working adults appreciate the option to take classes at a flexible pace that accomodates their schedules. Overall, online education just keeps getting better.

Have you taken an online course? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Online Learning For Kids and Adults"

Posted by:

27 Feb 2018

The only thing I don't like about this, especially for kids is the lack of real human interaction with others, i.e. not family members.

Now, for homework, it would be a fantastic way to get rid of those military size and weighted backpacks.

Posted by:

Frank K Foster
27 Feb 2018

Thanks for the good info. I am 78 years old and sometimes need to keep up with my 5th grade great granddaughter or fix something. I have been using to learn Spanish for free. Lots of good stuff out there.

Posted by:

David Barber
27 Feb 2018

I have created, taught and taken online courses. It is also important to look at how interactive any online program is. Too many online programs are little more than electronic correspondence courses. These programs are designed to maximize profit by expanding the number or students that can be "taught" by a single teacher. With all the wonderful and creative interactions that can take place in an online environment, it is sad that so many online programs choose to not make use of them. The problem of course is that this means each teacher will not be able to teach as many students increasing the cost of the program. A full-time teacher using interactive capabilities will have trouble handling more than 120 to 150 students at a time. One program I worked with gave each teacher between 800 and 1000 students to "teach". Most programs will give students the opportunity to talk to their teacher, but they also need interactions with other students in both discussion opportunities and group projects. Only a few programs actually offer students these opportunities.
That being said, there is a place for all of these programs as long as students and parents understand their needs and opportunities.

Posted by:

27 Feb 2018

I use two free online schools, and has online photography courses and other technical courses. They run for free when the are first produced and you can buy courses if you want to repeat them. is a British outfit that offers a variety of courses from genealogy, to humanism, to English, etc. They are free when they are first presented and you can buy upgrades and repeats.

Posted by:

28 Feb 2018

I have done about a dozen courses with FutureLearn. Most of those have been presented by universities or top companies in the field. They cover many interesting subjects including astronomy, science, climate change, genealogy and humanities. They are usually short and only require a few hours a week. A lot is gained from the online discussions from those signed on to do the course and you can put in your helpful tips as well.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Online Learning For Kids and Adults (Posted: 27 Feb 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved