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August 2019


Back 2 School? We’re ALWAYS in school! 

It’s that time of year again, when we are either dreading or celebrating the upcoming school term.  Regardless of which side of the fence we fall on, there can be no doubt that a good education is one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves and our children.  And when I say education, I’m not just referring to what happens in a classroom during grades K-12.  Education begins at birth and it should continue until the day we take our last breath.

I was blessed growing up to have a mom who was a teacher and to have experienced many different types of schools: homeschooling, private, public, traditional university, and online university.  In all of these schools, I learned there are many ways to educate myself and that no specific method is better than the other.  Sure, there are pros and cons to each method and we do all have very different learning styles, but I believe that an educated person is one who makes an active choice to be so.

Some of the most intelligent people I know have resumes that will never reflect their level of wisdom.  They are self-taught, well-read, and open to learning from every life experience.  They may or may not have gone to college. They may or may not have had good grades in school.  But what they have in common is a shared belief that learning never stops.

Encouraging continuous learning for all ages is what libraries do best.  It is at the heart of every choice we make, and we are constantly striving to provide ways for you to take charge of your own learning. Whether it is learning to read, cook healthier meals, improve your knowledge on a specific topic, find out what is really going on in the world — the Library can help.  As our world of knowledge continues to appear in new digital formats, librarians can suggest ways for you to learn in the way that you prefer.

I believe everyone knows that we have books, magazines and newspapers.  So I’ll just suggest a few items that you may not be aware of.  These resources are all freely available either through our library or online.  If you don’t see something on a topic you would like to learn, or if you know of other resources not listed here, please let us know — we can all learn together!

FAMILY LEARNING 

Learning Express Library:  www.jdplibrary.org 

Create a free account using your JDP Library card and gain access to a wealth of resources for the entire family. This site includes: skill building for math, English, social studies, science, technology, research and study, as well as standardized test prep and practice exams, adult literacy, US Citizenship, career help, and more! 

K-12 LEARNING 

Miss Humblebee’s Academy: www.jdplibrary.org 

Create a free account using your JDP Library card and prepare your little ones for Kindergarten.  This site helps ensure your 2-6 year olds have the necessary skills before school.

Khan Academy: www.khanacademy.org 

I am a HUGE fan of Khan Academy because it’s always free, easy to use, and offers high quality lessens on pretty much every topic for PreK-12, including Common Core math!  It also includes lessons on personal finance (loans, taxes, debt, car expenses, saving, budgeting, etc.).

Dave Conservatoire: www.daveconservatoire.org 

Fabulous website that teaches all ages the fundamentals of music, including theory, ear training, improv, and music history. 

National Geographic Kids: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com 

Check out this magazine at the library, then let your kids explore online for more learning and fun!

Fun Brain: www.funbrain.com

Offers free online games and activities for grades 1-8, searchable by grade level. 

Whyville: www.whyville.net/smmk/nice 

A unique learning site for ages 8-15 covering many subjects, from art to marine biology, from civics to programming. Through this online community, kids learn about internet safety AND the real world. 

Code:  https://code.org 

Free site dedicated to teaching kids computer coding. This is the agency that administers Hour of Code programs all over the world.

Zearn:  www.zearn.org

Used by public schools in Jeff Davis Parish, this free site offers K-5 students a way to improve math skills.

COLLEGE LEVEL 

Academic Earth: https://academicearth.org 

Academic Earth offers access to free university online courses.  These courses are available through other sites or directly through the universities, but AE brings them all together in one place.

Coursera: www.coursera.org

This site has a large online course library where classes are taught by real university professors. All courses are free (with a paid option for certificates) and the site is very easy to use.

EdX: www.edx.org 

Not everything on this site is free, but it is definitely all top notch!  Courses are from some of the same universities found on the other sites, but edX organizes them into Courses (the free stuff), graduate level, professional certifications, and Xseries (in-depth knowledge).

Open Culture: www.openculture.com 

Open Culture has over 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world.  It’s all free but it has a lot of ads – so be careful not to click on any images.  Use this site when Coursera or Academic Earth aren’t enough.

FutureLearn: https://www.futurelearn.com

This site is based in the UK, so you’ll see courses from European universities.  Many courses are free but there are some that cost.

OpenLearn: www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses

Another site based in the UK that also offers free university courses in an easy to search website.

DIGITAL SKILLS FOR ADULTS 

GCF Learn: www.gcflearnfree.org 

GCF has been helping adults learn 21st century skills for almost 20 years.  All lessons are free and cover topics such as typing, Microsoft software, social media, internet safety, basic math and literacy, and more!

Microsoft Learn: https://mva.microsoft.com 

Microsoft makes it easy to learn all of their software for free through this site.

Learn My Way: www.learnmyway.com

This site is similar to the GCF site, except that it’s based in the UK so some courses might not be relevant.

Codeacademy: www.codecademy.com 

This site is dedicated to teaching computer coding for adults and older teens. Basic features are free, but the more advanced options cost. 

HTML Dog: https://htmldog.com 

Free tutorials for those who want to learn or improve computer programming skills, such as CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. 

Hack Design: https://hackdesign.org/lessons101 

The first 50 lessons on this site are free and give you a crash course in graphic design. A useful list of tools is also included, but be aware they are almost entirely all focused on Apple products. 

Udacity: www.udacity.com/courses/all 

Udacity offers online lessons on technology I’ve never even heard of!  To find the free lessons, filter your search by Type—Free Courses in the left Category menu.  Want to build a self-driving car?  You can learn it here!

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