Leading universities keep learning alive for public during COVID-19

Virtual space exploration with “mission” assignments, on-demand tips for parents, and learning lessons from Boeing engineers are among hundreds of free activities offered by leading universities like Arizona State University (ASU), Grand Canyon University (GCU) and others during COVID-19. 

An expansive array of free tools now are online to keep stay-at-home academics engaging for all. 

ASU for You offers wide array of learning tools 

ASU had been working for months on a project — ASU for You — to provide learning resources, many free, to the public. When the coronavirus outbreak erupted, the university decided to accelerate the launch of the site and will continue to build on it.  

On the website, there are resources for all ages from K–12 to continuing education. 

Currently, the site has 16 areas of content with more to come including: 

  • Virtual space exploration with adaptive “mission” activities on Infiniscope, created by ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. 
  • A huge cache of free information from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College for parents with kids at home and for teachers who are moving to online instruction. There are sample daily schedules for families with younger and older students with links to curriculum content.
  • Free online course materials for high school students from ASU Prep Digital, including art history, chemistry and economics. 
  • All-ages articles and resources from ASU’s famous Ask a Biologist and Ask an Anthropologist sites. Both sites have experiments, puzzles, quizzes and videos, with ideas for teachers.

GCU helping K-12 students, parents, teachers under stay-at-home order  

GCU, which has invested over $200 million in a state-of-the-art learning management system called LoudCloud, has extensive online resources for all of its students during the outbreak. 

GCU’s K-12 Educational Development department has created several resources for educators and parents who are trying to find ways to reach and engage students. Many are free to the public at large, including private schools and homeschoolers.

“So many districts and schools, especially Christian schools, don’t have the support like a large, public school district, so they might not have Google Suite for Education. They might not have Microsoft tools at their disposal,” said Corinne Araza, GCU’s Director of STEM Outreach and Program Development. 

“They might just be needing free versions of different technological tools. So our main push is to customize professional development. What do you need and then let us give you a tool that helps you do what you want to do rather than saying ‘Here’s 95 tools, pick one.’ ” 

Some of GCU’s free tools include:

  • Weekly Wednesday Webinar offers ways to manage distance learning for schools and at-home education situations for parents. These webinars are live at 10 a.m. through zoom video conferencing. The videos also are available anytime on the university’s YouTube Channel at K-12 Education Development
  • Daily Tips, Tips on Demand and Practical Tips for Parents are video series that provide quick resources for educators and parents to help create online lessons and activities. Daily Tips have incorporated things like how to use hashtags in searches, how to use Flipgrid and how teachers can do assessments in the world of virtual instruction. These are being posted on K-12 Educational Development’s social media accounts at Facebook and Twitter.
  • Dual credit opportunities GCU offers online dual credit opportunities as an affordable and efficient way for high school students to get a head start on earning their college degree. A full list of courses is available here.

Even more

Expect More Arizona, a public-private partnership to make Arizona’s education system “the best it can be,” has compiled a long list of resources for students, families and educators. 

On it’s website, users can find resources like 100 days of learning from Boeing engineers, the Fordham Institute’s compilation of best educational YouTube channels, and Junior Achievement of Arizona’s Instagram Live Lessons for kids, and much more.To see them all, go to: Arizona parent and community resources.

Image courtesy of Arizona State University.

Victoria Harker

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