• Anand Rao

The Unintended Benefits of eLearning for Kids

Amazingly, the age of COVID-19 is not all doom and gloom. There are some positives that are emerging from this “new” normal.

Working from home during the pandemic has been eye opening in a lot of ways. But one of the most significant has been the role e-learning plays in educating my children. Now that schools are closed, and parents are forced by necessity to homeschool, most of us are naturally leaning quite heavily on technology. Laptops, iPads, Gmail, Google Classroom, Hangouts, and Zoom have become our virtual teaching tools, and many of us spent the first few weeks figuring out how to use them along with our kids. Obviously there was some frustration — learning new tools while being forced to play education supervisor is no walk in the park. I don't know about everyone else, but I have now reached a level of comfort where I can start to see some good in all of this. There are three benefits that I think will have a lasting impact on my kids. They are: 1. Devices as productivity tools: My kids communicate via emails with their teachers, navigate multiple windows and tabs, message friends, and get more efficient at typing on the keyboard — all in the blink of an eye. Wrangling with different devices is exposing them early to computing machines as productivity tools vs. simply gaming or viewing screens. 2. Time management skills: They no longer have a teacher telling them that it’s time for math, or we're going to do a science project for the next half an hour. Assignments listed on Google Classroom are forcing them to learn to manage their daily schedule for themselves. The first few weeks were tough — missed assignments and pressure from us parents to get everything done by dinner time. Now I find that my kids have mastered the art of starting early, staying focused, and getting through their assignments so there is time left to play. Essentially, they are learning to self-regulate with minimal oversight. 3. The value of movement: Not long ago when they attended traditional school, my kids craved screen time. They were sly rascals trying to wrangle iPad time to watch a Netflix show or to play Fortnite. Now, because they’re online so much, instead they crave physical activity. It’s 48 deg F outside as I write this, but they want me to take them bicycle riding. Everything has flipped. I am not seeing as much pull from them for devices to play games or to watch something. In that regard it’s more like when we were kids — we couldn’t wait to get outside and run free. All of these benefits have some practical use in the real world.

Imagine how ready these kids will be when entering the workplace along with how balanced they will be between the real world and the virtual world.

Trust me, I would much prefer that my kids get back to real classrooms, in-person teaching, and physical interactivity with classmates. However, I’ll take the boons I can get at times like this.