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How to support online learning during COVID-19 pandemic

April 13, 2020

A new report offers guidance to school districts straining to adjust

By Ross Brenneman

A new report examines some of the most pressing questions district leaders have had about meeting the needs of students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report offers guidance to K-12 teachers, principals and superintendents, as well as schools of education, on how to handle the increasing stress of adapting education systems to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Evidence from the Great Recession suggests the lasting damage that society-disrupting events can cause,” said USC Rossier Dean Karen Symms Gallagher. “Children—and the future of our democracy—deserve our best. It’s up to all of us to do our parts to make learning accessible and engaging.”

The report includes answers to the following questions:

  1. What are key lessons for engaging students in online instruction?
  2. What effective education practices are there for students without internet access?
  3. How might districts, schools and teachers re-consider grading practices?
  4. How should schools and teachers address learning for students with special needs?
  5. What should student teachers be doing at this moment?
  6. How should teacher-prep programs better prepare candidates for online teaching?

The report also addresses issues related to engaging high school seniors and how to improve feedback practices. It also offers resources for Zoom instruction, how to deal with unwanted intrusions into online classrooms (Zoombombing) and additional resources.

Input from school leaders

The report’s focus areas are based on input both from social media-based surveys and from nine California superintendents. The district leaders were asked about issues they’ve been experiencing and about feedback they’ve received from their respective principals and teachers.

Eighteen USC Rossier faculty members, staff and alumni provided their expertise for the report. In 2009, USC Rossier launched its groundbreaking online Master of Arts in Teaching program—the first of its kind from a major research university—meaning that USC Rossier faculty have been teaching online in an intentional format for more than a decade.

Many parents—especially of students with special needs—have expressed increasing frustration with the ability of their local schools to meet their children’s needs.

“Though parents can serve as wonderful teachers for their children, we cannot expect parents to take on the level of teaching and learning that their children may need,” said Eugenia Mora-Flores, a professor of clinical education at USC Rossier.

Read the full report: “Supporting Online Learning in a Time of Pandemic”

Related stories:

  1. How California superintendents can manage schools during COVID-19
  2. The survival guide to online teaching
  3. Online Teaching Resources
  4. Running admissions in a time of pandemic