My Five Favorite Educational Websites

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Educational Websites

Educational Websites

As a former educator but a lifelong learner, I wanted to take some time to explore a few educational websites that fascinate me, most of which I use every day of my life. I recommend and enjoy all of them. Hopefully you’ll find something in here you can enjoy as well.

* Duolingo

First and foremost, I love Duolingo. And I’m using it (no joke) to learn nine different languages right now. It’s hardly an obscure website, and comes up first in any language learning search. And it’s literally used by hundreds of millions of people.

Opponents of the site point out (accurately) that Duolingo could basically never lead to fluency. It’s an unfortunate fact, although arguably true of any language learning website or program. Fact of the matter is: Fluency is very unlikely to ever be achieved outside of immersion. That being said, the site is fun and engaging, has an extensive array of languages to choose from (including two fictional ones: Klingon and High Valyrian), and with it’s new format, there is so much repetition, you can really walk away from each section knowing your stuff. Fluency is unlikely; proficiency with some time and effort, is highly likely.

Also checkout their newest site, Tinycards. It’s a supplemental flashcard program, and it’s excellent. It also has tons of non-language classes. So if you have been itching to finally master the state capitals, the periodic table, and the names of all the Game of Thrones characters, you came to the right place.

A fun aside: In years upon years of using this site, I’ve never paid a dime, nor have I seen an advertisement. Yet the creator is filthy, stinking rich. Read up on this guy. He’s an evil genius, and millions of us users are so happy that he is!

* CodeCademy

I haven’t used CodeCademy in some time, but I love the format as a way of studying computer programming, and I wish more sites would take a similar approach. I used it to learn HTML and CSS a while back, and found it very effective.

What makes the site great is the split screen effect, where you can study everything on one side of the screen along with instructions for what to try and accomplish. And you see the effectiveness of your coding right there on the other side of the screen.

It’s brilliant in its simplicity, and I’m still shocked this is isn’t the norm.

I do find the site has three faults, which is probably why I haven’t touched it in a while:

  1. They don’t seem to update the site often, which is very problematic in the tech world. There’s no excuse for teaching outdated codes. Nor is there any reason why an activity will have the same issues for a long time, without anyone coming around to fix everything up.
  2. When you finish a course, it gives the mistaken impression that you’ve completed studying the subject matter, when there are in fact worlds more to study.
  3. There’s no good direction to go once you’ve completed a topic. You’re kind of left to just figure out the rest of the subject matter on your own.

So, in summary, the site would be perfect if it were always kept up to date and gave a clear path for advancing the studies post completion of a subject. As far as I can tell, for the price tag, it’s the best we’ve got right now.

* Nitrotype

I used to teach typing, and I had a student who was way too advanced for the other students in my class. I didn’t know what to do with him exactly, and I wasn’t about to just let him sit around doing nothing.

Then I had a vision of what I thought would be the perfect way to engage him. Imagine if there were some online program where he could race against other people with similar skill levels.

On a hunch, I hopped onto Google to see if something like that already existed, and I was so happy that I did. Nitrotype is a program where five people compete at the same time to type the same paragraph the fastest. The competitors could be anywhere in the world. And as they type, the speed propels images of cars across the screen. For each race, you get virtual money that you can use to buy other cars to race with.

It’s fun. It’s engaging and competitive. And it’s the absolute best way to learn to improve typing skills.

* YouTube

I know the standard thing to say nowadays in the pursuit of knowledge is “Google it”. Well, I’m not so sure it’s always the right choice. When it comes to learning how to do something, I am still in awe at what’s out there on YouTube.

Unlike the previous three sites mentioned, YouTube hardly comes under the category of “educational websites”. It’s more like a treasure trove of cat videos with a fair amount of useful stuff accidentally tossed in.

And my YouTube rule of thumb is and always will be:

If you want to remain happy, and you don’t want to lose any and all faith in humanity, never ever scroll down. YouTube comments are a cesspool of the worst human behavior you will ever witness.

Nevertheless, the amount I’ve learned from quick YouTube searches is off the charts. I’ll never forget when I needed to move a freezer to my basement, but couldn’t fit it through the hallway because of the freezer door. And removing the door was problematic, since it was connected with all sorts of intricate electric wiring that the movers refused to touch. A simple YouTube search, and the next thing I knew I was dismantling a freezer and putting it all back together. Like a boss!

Search and ye shall find.

Just don’t look down!

* WPbeginner

Here I am, a beginner blogger. Navigating everything from SEO to plug-ins to how to monetize a blog. And it’s beyond refreshing to know that a resource like WPbeginner exists. The name is misleading, however. The amount of information available is so very vast, I would hate to think of myself as still a beginner if I master even small chunk of it.

One thing is for certain: If you start a WordPress blog with little knowledge and you are NOT reading articles on WPbeginner, you are missing out on the single best resource currently available for the task. And you might be a little bit crazy.

 

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