Getting Tech Ready: A Back-to-School Primer for Distance Learning

August 5, 2020

In 2020, the school supplies list has changed a lot. Parents are more likely to find themselves downloading educational apps for their child’s new tablet, rather than shopping for backpacks and No. 2 pencils. FOSI is dedicated to sharing guidance that will empower parents and help families manage the many back-to-school challenges at the start of this unprecedented academic year.

For those who are making the transition back to online learning at home, a great way to spend the month of August is by thinking proactively about what will create a successful learning environment. This may mean gradually shifting summer routines into autumn ones by creating more structured activities and re-introducing sources of fun online learning to prepare both parents and kids for a consistent teaching schedule - whatever form that may take for each family.

Below are some helpful articles from Good Digital Parenting, as well as recommendations of trusted names in distance and online learning to help address parents’ concerns about incorporating tech successfully into a new year’s curriculum.

Safety First

Kids may be connecting with teachers, peers, and academic groups through a variety of online sites and video chat platforms. Parents should make sure they’re up to date with the features of those platforms, and how their safety and privacy settings work. This is also a great time to teach young kids online safety basics, set boundaries on appropriate tech use, and teach older kids the importance of maintaining a positive digital footprint.

Online Safety, Security, and Privacy: Talking to Kids About the Basics
What do we teach kids first when they start getting their own devices and accounts? These are some easy ways to help kids see why offline rules apply online, and some tips to help you keep them safer and more secure when they log on.

Digital Reputation Checklist
It is important to have check-ins with your child about their social media use but it can be hard knowing where to start. The Digital Reputation Checklist provides six steps for guiding your child to a healthier digital reputation.

Video Chat and Coronavirus: Keeping Kids Safe While Staying Connected
For many this year, lessons will take place on video conferencing software and not in the classroom. A change like this can leave parents wary about the privacy and safety of their children. Emily Mulder shares safety suggestions for parents about five of the most popular video platforms.

How to Manage Parenting, Screen Time & Digital Wellbeing During COVID-19
As parents make changes in the short-term to cope during this time, it’s important that they consider the habits and policies they are building for tomorrow. Now, more than ever, we need to be consciously connected.

Tackling Schoolwork

When it comes to school itself, connected students have the world at their fingertips. Here are a few places to start with kids as they pick back up with homework and education: learning to cite work, research properly, and think critically about the information they find online.

Keeping Tech in Check with Education
Using technology to learn the basics of math or grammar may leave your child digitally distracted. Adrienne Principe shares tips for parents who notice their child needs a more mindful and focused study solution.

Break the Fake: How to Tell What’s True Online
The Break the Fake workshop for ages 11 and up will teach audiences four quick, easy steps they can take to spot misinformation and find out if something online is true or not.

The Art of the News Article
Before including an article in a school research paper, have confidence your choice is credible and reliable. Alison Lo provides a comprehensive list of questions to consider when reading an online article.

Bibliography and Works Cited Resource Guide
Creating proper citations for works cited pages can be one of the most tricky parts of writing a thoughtful research paper. This FOSI resource guide lists popular online citation services where students can input their information and receive a formatted citation.

Trusted Partners and Experts

The online safety field is full of advocates working to make the online world better and safer during this time. These are just a few of the many organizations, programs, and resources we’d recommend for those who are parenting and homeschooling throughout COVID-19.

‘Teacher Approved’ Apps in Google Play
Google is making it easier for families to find quality educational apps with the addition of a new “Teacher Approved” section to Google Play. All apps found in this section are vetted by a panel of reviewers, including more than 200 teachers across the U.S.

Khan Academy
Khan Academy is an online educational website that personalizes learning and offers lessons created by experts. Their extensive list of tutorials are organized by grade level and class subject and can support your student through distance learning this fall.

Class Dojo
Class Dojo is working to help get classrooms “remote ready” by offering blended learning, classroom management and communication tools all in one place. You can sign up as a teacher, parent, student, or school leader.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt At Home Learning Support
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a textbook publisher that offers free online educational resources from their At-Home Learning Support program. Parents can choose activities from a variety of school subjects that are grade-appropriate to ease their child back into learning.

Written by

Emily Mulder

Emily manages communications and special programs for FOSI, as well as assistance in development strategy. Having spent ten years in online safety, she is passionate about the fast-moving fields of technology and child protection. Following years in both FOSI's US and UK offices, her most recent positions have involved research, communications, and program management with an international focus. Emily has consulted independently with various nonprofits and small businesses on press, social media strategy, fundraising and other projects.

In her academic career, Emily completed internships and work studies with various public relations firms in both America and the UK. She graduated from Kingston University London with a First Class degree in Media & Cultural Studies.