Spring and Summer Learning Options for Students on Lockdown: A COVID-19 post

Everyone’s circumstances are different.  So if you are just in survival mode – physically, mentally, or emotionally – you should not feel like there is pressure from me or anyone else to do more.  This post (and future posts about how to spend lockdown) is for students who might have extra time on their hands, are looking for ways to contribute, or want to learn something new. It is for students whose anxiety about the future may be alleviated by boosting their resumes or doing something productive.

For me, the best way of facing this challenge has been the continued act of counting my blessings. And that leads me to the inevitable conclusion that those blessings are not shared by everyone and I need to help out however I can or, at the very least, take advantage of my privileges by using this time to the best of my ability.     

There are countless resources out there for spending your time at home, but here are my favorite learning opportunities for students Grades 9-12. I hope to send out another email soon regarding opportunities to become a digital volunteer, start a business at home, or work for a company remotely.

Paid Educational Resources

Lockdown Language is a really cool non-profit where anyone interested in practicing languages can purchase conversation sessions from people who are out of work because of COVID-19.

“Spend your summer at Brown” (online) for 3, 4 or 5 weeks. There are some extremely cool courses here, ranging from mythology to neuroscience to cyber security. This is also a great way for Grades 9-12 students to get a feel for real world applications of what they are currently learning in school. Deadline: June 2020

Get chosen to participate in a selective online research program that is a partnership between Pioneer Academics and Oberlin College. There is a rigorous application process that takes 6-8 weeks, but students get to receive college credit and recognition from top universities if they are selected for this program. This is for top students only. Deadline: April 26th 2020

Free Educational

Check out 437 courses offered by the Ivy League universities. These courses typically last anywhere from 4 to 15 weeks and range in price from 0 to 90 dollars.

Here are 600 new courses launched by 190 universities in the areas of Computer Science, Mathematics, Programming, Data Science, Humanities, Social Sciences, Education & Teaching, Health & Medicine, Business, Personal Development, Engineering, Art & Design, and Science.

Take a free Intro to Aviation course with Embry Riddle. The course is low commitment (1 hour per week) and comprises nine video lessons for students who want to get a better feel for the aviation field.

If you are still looking for other options, take a look at this link containing descriptions of and links to Udemy (coding), KhanAcademy (free courses), Better Money Habits (seminars on personal finance), Skillshare (project-based learning), Coursera (free courses), Duolingo (language learning), MIT OpenCourseWare (free courses), Treehouse (tech workshops), edX (free courses), OEDb (free and for credit courses), TEDTalks (videos), Academic Earth (courses and lectures), Udacity (tech skills), Microsoft Virtual Academy (Microsoft training), U.S. Small Business Administration (starting and running a business), Foundation Center (philanthropy), Media Bistro (media, visual arts, marketing).

This takes some searching through, but here are 800 free eBooks for iPad, Kindle, etc. A lot of classics in there: think about starting with Pride and Prejudice, Great Gatsby, Brave New World, 1984, anything Shakespeare, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and much more.  If you don’t like philosophy or the classics, this link probably isn’t for you.

This also takes some searching through, but here are 1000 free audiobooks. This list is super similar to the list of free eBooks i.e. mostly classics and philosophy. You can also sign up for an Audible 30-day free trial and Amazon is offering free audiobooks during the crisis.

Mildly Interesting and Somewhat Educational

Google Earth launched virtual tours of some of America’s best national parks. If you’ve been on Google Earth, it’s basically that, but in pretty places.

Browse 2 million plus works of art from 20+  world-class museums. Maybe make a list of places you want to visit or study abroad when you’re in college.

Watch Broadway plays online.  The classic Broadway plays are only available if you have a US VPN.

Virtually visit some museums, zoos, and theme parks. I used to keep a puppy cam and a zoom com up in different corners of one of my work monitors – it’s surprisingly soothing and really not that educational.

Getting Ahead of Yourself – a list for the super motivated

Think about your college admissions essay.  There are going to be a LOT of COVID-19 essays out there, so see if you can brainstorm different topics.  If you do end up writing about COVID-19, your story needs to stand out, not by shock and awe but by being personal.  Pay attention to nuanced parts of your day while in lockdown.  Consider journaling for 10 minutes at the end of each day so that you can look back at which aspects of this pandemic affected you the most – it may surprise you when you look back.

We have no idea if travel restrictions are going to be lifted and I’m sure many families will have to think about tightening budgets after the lockdown. That said, here are some in-person courses that are scheduled to take place this summer.  You can always read the list to find aspirational activities for next summer!

Here are even more options that are less educational and more enjoyable: cooking, drawing, playing guitar, drawing, creative writing, etc.

This is a list of 1500 free online courses.  There is probably some overlap with the first two free educational resources and I would stick to those links since they contain programs offered by recognized universities. You would probably only use this list if you’re looking for something that is really niche.

I included the Ivy League MOOCs (massive open online courses) in the free educational resources above, but you can also browse all the MOOCs out there.  Be careful – this can easily become overwhelming.

IvyEdge Virtual Initiatives

So I have to spend a little time talking about what we’re developing here at IvyEdge.

Right now, we have CAPE and CSEC Math, Physics and Chemistry virtual teachers on board and even more in training.  We are also working hard to develop a virtual speaker series that will introduce students to specific majors, careers, salaries, etc. to make more informed decisions about their futures. Finally, we will soon be releasing webinars for students and parents addressing the changing landscape of international admissions in the time of COVID and how to best prepare for the storm.

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