Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, many industries have moved their services online. Especially education. The closures of many schools shifted in-person classes to virtual learning, which was a major change for many families around the world; a change that was not easy and oftentimes unwelcome. And the availability of online resources for children and adults in the area of multidisciplinary learning has exploded.
Online learning has been around at least 15 years, and many of the well established platforms have gained more traction due to the pandemic as well, such as Coursera and Khan Academy. More recently, the education sector has grown in two major areas – how they provide education on their platforms and in making learning accessible to more students.
Here are a number of online resources that can help you meet a wide variety of educational needs for your family.
For Children – Learning Applications, Academies, and Websites
There are many platforms for children to learn from. They include practicing basic skills in literacy and math, or delving into history, social studies, and developing critical thinking skills and socioemotional learning.
- Khan Academy – https://www.khanacademy.org – Personalized learning that helps students learn at their own pace, filling in gaps where students are struggling on a subject, and also helps teachers tailor their instruction to their unique students. This platform provides tutoring videos and activities to help practice in subjects such as reading, math, arts and humanities, computing, economics, and life skills such as personal finance and developing a growth mindset.
- Virtual Elementary School – www.virtualelementaryschool.com – Offers flexible courses that go along with the learner’s specific needs. The courses follow the Ontario Ministry of Education’s curriculum. A great website for Canadian children that has all the main subjects available from Grades 1 to 6.
- Outschool – www.outschool.com – Offers the main school subjects along with unique courses such as Kindergarten circle time, chess, art portfolio development, foreign languages (e.g., Spanish, Urdu, Arabic, Chinese, etc.), and even “life skill” courses geared towards autistic kids, kids with ADHD, escape rooms, puzzles, and more. It is a very diversified website for kids so be sure to check it out!
- Epic Children’s Book Library – www.getepic.com – An online library that has chapter books, story books, educational books, and comics free for parents and teachers alike. I have personally used this website during the pandemic to teach my own online English class. It is very easy to use and quite diverse in topics. I would recommend parents use the reading tracker to motivate kids about reading and to also use discretion on which reading material they are allowed to access.
- Adventure Academy – https://www.adventureacademy.com – This game-like platform is meant for 8-13-year-old children. They get to create their own character or avatar and explore worlds that are subject based such as language arts, math, social studies, and science. There is lots of exciting game-based learning here that is sure to help children who are struggling to learn in a classroom setting.
- Homer Learning – www.learnwithhomer.com – This platform follows a method developed by experts – a four step approach that includes introducing the skill or topic and relevant vocabulary, practice, applying it in a familiar context to demonstrate that they understood the skill, and then transferring the skill to the real world to demonstrate in a new or different context. It includes reading, math, social emotional learning, creativity, and “big thinking,” which promotes critical skills through learning and play.
- Starfall – www.starfall.com – This free website has been online since 2002 and works with your children through letter recognition all the way through to reading plays, nonfiction, and comics. Math is also included. They cover topics designed for children in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
Informative Websites on Facts Related to Science, History, and Life:
Current Events websites tailored to children:
TIME for Kids – www.timeforkids.com – news items regarding the world, science, book reviews, the arts, and entertainment are geared towards kids from Kindergarten to Grade 6.
Dogo News for Kids – www.dogonews.com – detailed current events news stories for kids on technology, the environment, science, civics, and even sports. News articles provide questions and quizzes for students to expand their critical thinking skills. I have used this website to teach my Grade 7 Language Arts class as a student teacher; it was very helpful in keeping students up to date about current events and to develop critical thinking about those events.
Muslim Learning Platforms
There are a number of great websites specifically designed by Muslims for Muslim families.
- Adams World Club – https://academy.adamsworld.org – a very interactive platform for children to learn about Islamic basics, the prophets, and skills such as cooking and artwork. Parents can register for packages that include live online or pre-recorded classes that come with supplemental worksheets, art projects, and recipes. My children have greatly enjoyed these classes especially because the teachers were very attentive and enthusiastic.
- Halal Tube – https://www.halaltube.com – This platform provides videos of various speakers and their lectures. Many of them are the popular speakers we listen to today such as Ismail bin Musa Menk and Yasmin Mogahed.
- Productive Muslim Blog – https://productivemuslim.com/blog/ – Explores and teaches about topics on productivity in all avenues of our life: spiritual, physical, social, and even Ramadan. It provides tools that we can use to build good habits and to become more organized in these arenas of our life.
- 1001 Inventions – https://www.1001inventions.com – Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Scientists with your children through stories, news, videos, online exhibits, and activities. You can learn about Muslim inventors in chemistry, medicine, and engineering, or about Muslim explorers and the Book of Animals. This is a great place to inspire our children about their enlightened heritage.
- Alim – www.alim.org – A “social network focused around various Islamic content, including tafsir, hadith, Muslim history, Quran translations, Quran recitations, Islamic references and provides tools for studying Islam and memorizing the Quran.” It is well-organized and easy to find quick information on any of the topics mentioned above. It also includes funeral services and current Islamic news.
- Yaqeen Institute – www.yaqeeninstitute.com – a unique website in that they provide curriculum topics on the principles of faith on helping to cultivate a God-centered worldview, Conviction Circles with the curriculum provided if you want to start your own halaqah or learning circles with guided group discussions, and Conversation Decks. These a great tools to use with adolescents and young adults especially with the burgeoning movement on atheism among our youth today.
- Al Huda Online – my.alhudaonline.org – this platform provides easy access to authentic knowledge from the Quran and Hadith in the form of courses for diplomas and webinars that include live discussions with instructors and other students. There are also courses that focus on self-development and character building. The platform is flexible in that you can choose courses that suit your schedule.
For Adults - Platforms That Help You Upskill
There are universities and skill-based “academies” that help you gain new skills or receive certificates in various subjects. Many Ivy-League universities such as Harvard or MIT are offering courses and degrees through their own websites or other portal sites such as Coursera. The great thing about this is that you can receive an education for a cheaper price and an authentic certificate from these institutions, and then show it on your resume afterwards as a legitimate achievement.
Moreover, many self-styled web academies have sprung up in the last decade teaching a huge variety of skills including coding, data science, sales and marketing, graphic design, organizational leadership, the creative arts, and more. Again, the skills you gain from these online academies are considered essential and sought-after in today’s workforce. Lastly, an added bonus some of these websites offer is the opportunity to teach in their academy and earn money.
Here is a list of websites that include certificate courses by universities and skill-based academies:
- Coursera – www.coursera.org – earn college/university level degrees or certificates without the high tuition fees or even attending the campus from popular and highly-rated institutions such as IBM, Google, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and more. Programs can include information technology (IT), computer science, business, and digital marketing and e-commerce.
- edX – www.edx.org – This platform offers programs and degrees from universities such as Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, and Boston. You can receive a Higher Education Teaching Certificate, or even certificates in Financial Technology or Real Estate. This website focuses on getting a degree or expanding your knowledge in your current field, upskilling employees in your business, and expanding curriculum for educators.
- Udemy – www.udemy.com – a website with free or highly-discounted courses in coding, business, photography or design, and IT and software. You can run your own business through them as well as teach. These courses are taught by experts, professors, entrepreneurs, and professionals from the aforementioned fields.
- Alison – www.alison.com – this website offers free courses with certificates and diplomas. One can receive education in languages, health, engineering, and management. Some health diplomas include diplomas in caregiving, nursing, workplace safety and health, and even courses in mental health studies.
- LinkedIn Learning – https://www.linkedin.com/learning/ - Based on your LinkedIn profile skills you can have courses recommended to you to help you upskill. Skills can be as small as learning how to use Excel, speaking confidently, or how to market your brand on social media. If you graduated from a certain university or college, then courses from those institutions will be recommended to you as well. There are also live office hours with experts available for whichever skill you are interested in.
- Skillshare – www.skillshare.com – gives “bite-sized” classes so you can learn something new even if you only have 15 minutes a day. It has classes in film, writing, tech, visual arts, productivity, and entrepreneurship.
With these many resources available online, knowledge is genuinely at your fingertips. Enjoy exploring these platforms and happy learning!
Sumayya Khan is a homeschooling mother of two and a teacher. She has worked with several Islamic schools and organizations in the last 10 years. She is currently teaching Literature online with Dawanet and studying the Qur’an through Al-Huda Institute. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, play sports, enjoy nature, and read books. She currently resides with her family in Toronto, Canada.