elearning

Studying online can be especially daunting for both students and their parents, especially as every student has their own unique way of learning. That’s why here at Skwirk we try to make online learning as fun and as flexible as possible, so your student has access to every section of each chapter straight away and doesn’t need to unlock particular items to access the content that best helps them learn. And this week, we’ve made it even easier to access every video, game, assessment, animation, quiz and eBook through a brand new layout to suit each and every student’s learning style.

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The Skwirk Student Dashboard View

Every Skwirk chapter is divided up into easy-to-navigate sections for each content type: Read It, Watch It, Play It & Prove It. Do you have a student who is a visual or aural learner? Spending more time in the Watch It section will definitely help here. What about a logical learner or a student who loves learning through games? The Play It section will be where you want to look. By using each of the approaches to learning across all our chapters, your student is more likely to retain the information and have fun doing so.

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1. Read It

Here is where your child or student can access the text content written specifically for their year level by Australian teachers to introduce them to the subject material for that chapter. They will be also able to see pictures along the side which are referenced in the text to visualise the concepts. Have them read this material carefully as it will help form a base to answer questions in the corresponding games and quizzes later in the chapter!

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An example of the Read It section in the new Skwirk (Year 3 Science: Natural Resources)

 2. Watch It

This section is especially helpful for our visual learners – we’ve packed all the images, videos and animations we can find on the topic into one section so you child or student can use more senses in their learning journey. Our animations and videos are especially helpful in providing a quick overview of the chapter and have native Australian speakers and language directed specifically for the year level the content is addressing.

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An example of the new Watch It section (Year 5 English: Language Variation and Change)

3. Play It

Games time! Our games are all designed for children to work through concepts in a fun and engaging way, and in many cases make them forget they are learning at all.

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The new Skwirk Play It section (Year 4 Maths: Times Tables 2-12)

4. Prove It

The Prove It section is where children can directly test their knowledge learnt throughout the other Skwirk sections. It’s also a great tool to affirm what your child has learnt in class earlier that day or as a recap on a particular topic. Here you will find cloze passages, spelling tests, quizzes and assessments. Our Prove It section is designed in a way that students will achieve 100% of their progress points when they get at least 50% of the answers correct, and they can go back and complete the Prove It as many times as they like to improve upon their scores.

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The new Skwirk Prove It section (Year 6 HASS: Global connections)

So, how can your student or child benefit from the new Skwirk?

Apart from being easier to navigate and being able to see their results immediately, the key benefit in using Skwirk is the ability for your child to work through the content in the way that best suits their learning style. Research shows that a child is far more likely to retain information when presented in forms that engage different senses, and so by Reading it, Watching it, Playing it and Proving it you and your child can see exactly what kinds of learning works for them and be able to access this content across the entire Australian curriculum of English, Maths, Science, History and Geography.

Stay tuned for Part 2: What are Skwirk Progress Bars and how do I use them?

You can trial Skwirk for FREE today – click here for a parent trial and here for a teacher trial. Happy Skwirking!

This is the second in our August series of guest blog posts by author, educator and media commentator Dannielle Miller. 


What is the one thing teen boys say they wish adults better understood about their lives?

Forget raging hormones, academic angst and peer pressure. When my team and I run our personal development workshops with young men the thing they tell us they feel is the cause of most inter-generational misunderstanding is their passion for computer games.

“I wish my parents knew that just because I like gaming doesn’t mean I am a loner or that I’m going to become a serial killer.” “I wish the adults that mock me for the games I play would at least learn a bit more about them, and how skilled I am at playing them, first.”

The very fact that we tend to only ever target in on young men when fretting about gaming highlights how misinformed we tend to be. The reality is that almost half of those who play are female, and approximately a third are aged over 35 years old (yes, it seems that we have already had a generation of young game-loving people emerge as adults, and yes most are happy, well adjusted and productive members of society).

The reality too is that gaming is actually highly social; players work together to solve problems, share tips and tricks, compete with one another. My biggest complaint when my son plays?

There’s too much noise as he’s animatedly chatting via Skype to the mates he’s teaming up with online.

And make no mistake. Gaming does develop valuable skills. It is a fluid intelligence mega-booster, encouraging participants to seek novelty, challenge themselves, think creatively, do things the hard way and network.

There are many surprising socio-emotional benefits associated with gaming as well. It has been shown to be helpful in alleviating depression (it is believed games distract people from negative thought patterns), in developing intrinsic motivation (gamers learn to overcome one obstacle after another), and in developing the type of 21st century skills that employers require (not only the familiarity with computer operating systems, but the ability to work and collaborate virtually).

As for the notion that games are violent, whilst it is true that some of the most popular games like Minecraft are not, many do have violent elements. While this doesn’t thrill me, it also doesn’t surprise me. Children’s games have long explored such impulses; be it through playing with toy weapons or soldiers, or through role-plays such as Cowboys and Indians.

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The real question is whether playing these types of games leads to more violent behaviour, and on that point the findings are mixed with most studies concluding that whilst for a person predisposed towards violence this might be triggering, for well-adjusted individuals it is not. In fact, some young men I talk to say that when they are feeling angry, playing a game that is aggressive can be a helpful way of channeling that rage safely.

All this is not to say we should white-wash the very real issues that need addressing in gaming such as the sexist and abusive way in which some female players and game developers are treated (something my son thinks is shocking) and debates around ratings. Games like the Grand Theft Auto series, which tend to attract the type of media interest that may have contributed to the current culture of fear and misunderstanding, are rated R (18+). They will, of course, like all forbidden fruit, appeal to younger kids as well and just like when they wish to view films that are not suitable for them, it is then that parental boundaries need to be established.

Leena van Deventer, a game narrative lecturer at RMIT and Swinburne Universities, argues parents have actually never been in a better position to engage with the games their children play, and setting boundaries is aided not only be the games rating classification system, but by better parental restrictions that can be set on game devices. “We don’t have to play every game before our kids get it, these days either”, she says. “We can jump on YouTube and watch a complete play-through of the game and decide whether it’s the sort of game we want our child to play.”

It is true that like anything a young person becomes passionate about, gaming can become addictive. However, It seems odd to me though that whilst we wouldn’t dream of shaming a young person who was obsessed with locking themselves off into their room to read books, it tends to be open season on the gamer.

The way to connect with our children about anything is to open ourselves to their interests, instead of reflexively dismissing the things they love as harmful or trivial. Rather than policing and patronising, we need to empathise with, and understand the world of, young people. Only then can we positively engage with them and effectively support them.

We need to be prepared to get in the game.

 

Dannielle’s books may be purchased at her web site. During the month of August only, if you use the code SKWIRK at check out, you will receive a 25% discount off all purchases.

Being a parent is tough! Although the challenges change as your child grows, sometimes it feels as if every day brings a new set of problems to deal with. One issue which caused an enormous amount of frustration in our household was homework. Not only did my children frequently not want to spend time with their books when they could have been doing other things, but to be honest I found homework difficult too. Many of the things I learned at school weren’t relevant to the current Australian curriculum and I discovered it hard to deliver help in a useful way. Thankfully, Skwirk has provided my family with a fantastic solution to the trials that studying brings.

Comprehensive, easily accessible

Skwirk is an online educational resource which contains over 18,000 pieces of text, animation, games, activities and videos designed to enhance learning across the curriculum. The content is aimed at four to 14-year-olds and covers popular subject areas including numeracy, literacy, geography and science. The site is easy to navigate and can be accessed from a laptop or tablet, so the kids can use it in the car or when we’re out and about, as well as when we’re at home.

Learning and assessment

One of the key advantages of Skwirk for us parents is that it contains both learning and assessment elements. We’re all familiar with our children going off to “learn”, only to find that they’ve ended up doing something completely different! Luckily Skwirk includes the option of sending weekly, emailed progress reports to teachers, parents or tutors, so I always know exactly what study has occurred. Because my children can test their learning with online assessments, it’s easy for them to see what progress has been made and where additional assistance is needed.

Not just for homework help

Knowing that Skwirk can provide safe, relevant learning material isn’t just of benefit for homework, the site is also ideal for additional studying and tutoring. I have two children – one who shines academically and really needs content that challenges them and the other who finds learning a real chore, particularly when it comes to maths. Skwirk provides a customisable solution which suits them both. I also find it a great option to use for “top up” practice between tutoring sessions and to extend school learning.

Engaging format

Up-to-the-minute graphics, sophisticated animation and great video clips ensure Skwirk really engages my children’s attention. It’s that good, schools often use it as a reward for good behaviour! My children are always keen to use Skwirk and I’ve found that since we’ve started using it, the number of homework battles in our house has significantly decreased.

Skwirk is an innovative, exciting online resource that is designed to appeal to a wide variety of children and is already proving to be an invaluable learning aid to thousands of children across Australia and beyond. If you want to transform your child’s home learning experience, why not try Skwirk and enjoy the numerous advantages it brings? Find out more about Skwirk, click here. 

A quick search for “online educational resource” will reveal hundreds of different sites, each making impressive claims about their credibility and results. One of the biggest challenges parents face when trying to find a suitable site to assist their children with learning is deciding which one will be best. At Skwirk we understand how difficult that choice can be, which is why we’ve summarised the key reasons parents in Australia and overseas are opting to use us in order to enhance their children’s education. Read on to discover five clear advantages Skwirk brings to e-learning.

Well presented content

Nothing turns kids off a site faster than reams of text! With years of experience in the education field, our team ensures that the information you’ll find on Skwirk is conveyed in a way that children find enormously appealing. Pictures, videos, animation and advanced graphics provide an engaging, flexible learning experience that fuses fun with learning wonderfully well.

All in one place

Children may demand information on anything from multiplication to marine life, so parents need to be prepared! Skwirk contains over 16,000 resources on a wide range of topics, all in one safe, easily accessible place. This saves a considerable amount of time, as there’s no need to spend hours trawling the net and library to find suitable resources. In addition, Skwirk is designed to be user friendly, enabling children as young as four to independently navigate to topics of interest.

Relevant to the current Australian curriculum

A major problem with online research can be verifying the reliability of the information you find. The answer is to use Skwirk as a convenient, all-encompassing solution. All the Skwirk resources are regularly checked to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Topics are closely tied to the Australian curriculum and include numeracy, literacy, science, French, geography, history and more. This makes Skwirk an ideal homework resource as well as a great study aid.

Parental feedback

A regular emailed update of children’s progress enables parents to quickly assess how much learning their child is undertaking. Skwirk contains not only factual information, but also a selection of testing and assessment resources. These allow children to see whether they’ve understood a topic, as well as providing an assessment tool for parents, home educators and tutors.

Versatile

Skwirk can be used anywhere there’s internet access and adapts well to a tablet in addition to a PC. It’s suitable for children of all abilities and intended for ages four to 14. Skwirk can be used for homework help, revision, general interest, extended learning, differentiated learning and assessment. Many children find it so interesting they’ll even use Skwirk just for entertainment!

Skwirk is a well-established company with a significant track record in providing premium online education assistance to Australian children of all ages and abilities that enhances their learning. Relevant, engaging, adaptable and fun, it’s little wonder that with so many benefits, thousands of parents have decided to make Skwirk a valuable part of their child’s learning experience.

Parents – grab a free trial today. Click here.

Computers are now an integral part of school life across the majority of Australia, but are they being used as effectively as possible? Whilst the majority of schools house a “computer lab” or similar facility, is it the case that this is fulfilling the potential that information technology has to transform the education of thousands of children? Compared to the rest of the world, how does Australia perform when it comes to integrating online learning with the education system?

International leader

Australia is well-recognised as pioneering computer use in schools, to the extent that seven out of eighty schools selected for Microsoft’s prestigious Worldwide Innovative Schools Programme were located in this country. Schools are required to have adequate IT provision on site and many children use Information Technology regularly to enhance their learning.

Barriers still exist

Unfortunately, despite the widespread IT provision that exists, there are still a number of factors that can prevent children getting the maximum benefit from IT resources. Static computers may be awkwardly located for timely, appropriate use, or Australian teachers may not have the technical expertise to use them optimally. Particularly when it come to seamlessly integrating IT into the Australian curriculum, some staff struggle due to insufficient training. These barriers are common to many countries where IT usage is widespread.

Schools are responding pro-actively

Learning from global best practice in education, Australian schools have robust strategies to overcome these issues and ensure that our education system remains one of the most technologically advanced in the world. Tablets are now used widely and many schools are opting for online educational resource sites that are easy to use and frequently offer additional training for teachers in using them for maximal benefit.

Australian schools continue to feature regularly in the higher ranks of numerous statistical collations that compare educational performance between countries. A keen appreciation of the benefits that information technology can bring to students, coupled with a willingness to overcome any challenges that restrict IT usage, results in a school system that welcomes new technology and engages fully in ensuring students enhance their learning through this medium.

The iPad was introduced in 2010, providing a compact and highly portable, yet accessible, medium through which to reach the internet, as well as a number of other functions. User numbers have grown significantly in recent years, with iPads being employed not only for work and entertainment, but also as an educational tool. This latter application has provoked considerable controversy, with some experts suggesting that screen use is detrimental to academic success, whilst others feel there are significant benefits to e-learning. Take a look at the benefits an iPad can bring to your child’s education, as well as the advantages of ensuring high quality textbooks are readily available as a learning resource.

Fast, portable and convenient

Unfortunately, textbooks can be heavy and cumbersome to transport. Even using a textbook can be time consuming and frustrating, as finding the information you need is frequently a challenge. In comparison, an iPad is light enough for smaller children to carry easily, can be used anywhere and most learners can find the information they need in a few minutes, making it ideal for flexible learning. A single device is all that’s needed to access comprehensive information on a wide range of subjects. Sites such as Skwirk, for example, contain over 16,000 learning resources, covering curriculum material for four to 14 year-olds.

Range of learning mediums

Textbooks contain writing, diagrams and photographs, but little else. This can make learning a dry process and can often deter children from wanting to find out more about a topic. One of the major advantages of e-learning is that in addition to these methods of conveying information, children can also enjoy video clips and animation, adding interest to the learning experience. Different presentations of the same information allow children to find a method which suits them best, enhancing retention and engagement.

Interactive

Textbooks contain plenty of useful facts and figures, but do not present opportunities for interaction. Conversely an iPad can provide numerous tests, quizzes, assessments and puzzles which encourage learners to remain attentive and retain the information they need. For children who have trouble concentrating, an iPad can work wonderfully well as an aid to study.

Appealing

Those of us who remember the pre-digital age will frequently favour textbooks, as they are familiar – a tried and tested method of obtaining high-calibre information when you need it. Whilst this is still the case, it’s important to recognise that premium, interactive content is frequently a more appealing way of learning for young people. The use of iPads doesn’t negate textbook use; rather it offers a route for accessing information which better suits many young people today, complementing more traditional methods.

Textbooks continue to play a major part in many educational experiences, particularly for advanced learners who need to access niche subject matter. For school aged children, an iPad which gives them access to high quality educational material can be of real benefit in enriching their learning experience in a wide range of subjects.