Remote learning providers are moving in a fast way to make their services more available in the wake of COVID-19. At the same time, K-16 educators and their organizations are working hard to put in place the ability to offer remote learning. In light of the prompted social distancing, this work is life-saving. Children who may carry the virus can infect vulnerable parents and grandparents. Providing at-home learning opportunities may lessen the exposure for immune-compromised individuals.
In this blog entry, we’ll explore over twenty resource links and solution providers. The goal of sharing these with you is to assist you in launching remote learning for your school or district.
This blog was last updated 03/30/2020 (11:56 AM) with new information and digital tools.
Resources and Assistance Abound
If you have additional resources, be sure to add a description and link in the comments section for this blog entry. In the meantime, you might want to check this School Closure Planning document via educator Nicole Zumpano. EduroLearning also offers a fantastic site replete with resources.
Social Distancing: What Is It?
The CDC mentions social distancing as one of the ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
The community can take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Currently a vaccine or drug is not available for COVID-19.
The CDC points to community-based interventions such as the following:
- School dismissals
- Event cancellations
- Social distancing
- Creating employee plans to work remotely
Social distancing is “a term applied to certain nonpharmaceutical infection control actions” (source). Public health officials take these actions to stop or slow down the spread of a disease and thus reduce virus transmission. This happens when people increase the physical distance between persons. It can also happen when you reduce the frequency of congregation in certain places such as schools and/or workplaces. Per research studies, social distancing is effective at reducing disease spread. Many universities have taken this step. K-12 campuses and districts may follow as needed.
Students Need Home Internet Access?
If low-income students need Internet access at home, consider these solutions:
Hotspot Donations and $10/Month Wireless Access for Education – With nationwide school closures due to COVID-19, educators can request wireless hotspot donations at Digital Wish, then get Mobile Beacon’s unlimited high-speed 4G LTE mobile broadband service for only $10/month. Each donated hotspot ($70 value) has a 10 hour battery life and can connect up to 10 people to the internet. Use hotspots to set up a lending pool that will provide equitable internet access for students and teachers. A one-time $18 admin fee applies for a single hotspot and the $120 full-year service subscription must be paid in advance. Learn more and get your hotspots here.
Lifeline. “Lifeline typically provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers.” Learn more about Lifeline from this FCC.gov website.
Comcast is now offering “Internet Essentials.” Comcast is offering, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, two months free to new Internet Essentials customers. Click here for more details. Xfinity WiFi from Comcast will be available as well.
Spectrum will also offer 60 days of free internet to households with K-12 or college students who lack a Spectrum account. Their WiFi hotspots will be opened for public use. Read this ABC News article for more providers.
Another great idea is equipping your school buses with Cradlepoint WiFi and park those around the District.
Just-in-Time Online Learning Support
Many individuals, businesses and non-profits are now offering free professional learning to educators. The professional learning focuses on how to teach online. Here is a quick round-up of some of those resources:
- Organizational Resources
- Individual Tip Collections and Tutorials
- Emma Pass’ Online Teaching in the Time of COVID-19 is a must-read for many
- Teacher Tools and video tutorials for COVID-19 school closures.
- Kasey Bell’s Online Learning Tips
- Rushton Hurley’s website focused on emergencies and online learning
Flipgrid has curated a variety of resources for educators:
- Remote Learning with Flipgrid
- Learning from Home Disco Library Playlist
- Add your name to the inspiring community of educators willing to help and share remote learning ideas.
- Share this Family Learning post with parents or guardians looking to engage their child at home.
- Help onboard your community with a Flipgrid overview session at blog.flipgrid.com/flipgridpd
Wondering what to do about students taking home a school device? You may want to watch this March 18, 2020 (on demand after date) webinar, Preparing Your District for CIPA Compliant Device Take Home.
How do you reduce social distancing in schools? One part of the answer involves moving teaching and learning online. This can be a challenge for schools since students and/or teachers may not yet have learned how to function online. Below are some recommendations that Cary G. Hart gleaned from international educators:
- Keep it simple
- Use ONE method to communicate with parents, not multiple
- Use already-introduced platforms as much as possible
- Train teachers now while you can
- Offer tech support for teachers, students, and parents
Getting up to speed in a short time may not be possible. That aside, online learning providers have rushed to make their solutions available. Many educators are compiling and sharing resources for online learning.
In the space below, you will find the most current list of services offered in alphabetical order. You may be aware of free or almost free services like Flipgrid, Seesaw, Wakelet. Each has a set of features that is available at no cost (e.g. Flipgrid, Wakelet, Seesaw). Others (e.g. Seesaw for Schools) have a cost associated for more features.
Other video conferencing providers, such as Zoom, while not designed for school use may very well be a go-to tool that offers some free services. For example, Zoom is lifting limits for K-12 schools provided they complete an online form. Services offered include any or all the following:
- Video conferencing (Google EDU, Microsoft, Zoom)
- Learning management systems (Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Education Perfect)
- Curriculum and training (Tynker, Microsoft, G Suite EDU)
- Online teaching and learning assessment tools (e.g. EdPuzzle, PearDeck, Book Creator)
Explore the services below.
Adobe is now offering free home access to their Creative Cloud apps. Access will be free of charge through May 31, 2020. Students can request it online. They are also offering free 90-day access to Adobe Connect, a web conferencing solution, until July 1, 2020.
Amazon Prime Video Free Family Titles
Whether you have Amazon Prime or not, a free Amazon account gets you and your child(ren) access to free family titles. These titles are age-appropriate, include PBS Kids Series titles. These are shows your kids are sure to love (mine did!) and will help whittle away the hours.
We know listening to stories has the same benefit as reading with one’s eyes. Audible Stories is now offering, at no charge, a collection of audio stories. Stories are organized into a variety of categories, such as the following:
- Littlest Learners
- Literary Classics
- Folk & Fair Tales for All
Their stories are also available in various languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian and more. No login is required.
One of my favorite tools for creating ebooks and comics, Book Creator offers a free version. It is augmenting its free offering with a 90-day premium feature access. They are offering the following two features at no cost:
- The ability to collaborate together on books in real-time
- A list of ideas for using Book Creator for remote learning
Get free access to Buncee Classroom if you are in an affected area. Consider what Buncee offers:
With Buncee’s assortment of media options, creating a virtual lesson is quick and easy. Teachers can include text, video, audio, or even links to additional resources. Record your lesson using the video feature, or create an activity template for your student to complete at home. The classroom dashboard can then be utilized to share and track assignments. Teachers could also create a Buncee Board, so students can access materials, share their work, interact with their classmates, and participate in class discussions no matter where they are.
With Buncee and Microsoft Immersive Reader, teachers can ensure all students, regardless of their individual needs, can learn remotely as well. Students can use Immersive Reader to read the material at their own pace, and in a way that’s comfortable for them. Immersive Reader ensures learning is accessible for all types of learners both in the classroom and beyond. (Source: Supporting Remote Student Learning)
Chemix Lab Diagrams
Chemix Lab Diagrams is now offering all their features for free for one month. And, they have extended their trial period for the Boost plan from seven to thirty-one days. Read this blog entry to find out how Chemix can assist you as a Physics/Chemistry teacher. Learn more about the COVID-19 related offer.
Coding UnPlugged Resources
Need to teach coding but don’t have an Internet connection? Check out this Wakelet collection on the subject. You are welcome to make a copy and if you know of other resources, please share them in the comments.
This New Zealand-based company offers a learning management system (LMS) at no cost to schools that is in wide use across many countries.
“As we finish our 4th week of online learning (thank you COVID-19) all I can say is EP has been a lifesaver… I can monitor students, comment on their progress and reassign tasks based upon their understanding. Brilliant.”
“We’re offering free Educreations Pro upgrades to teachers through May 1, 2020. You can take advantage of this offer by clicking the button below. This offer is not available for current Educreations Pro subscribers.” Want to take advantage of Educreations Pro account offer? Use this link. Note that their Pro features require an iPad. Some of Educreations Pro features include the following:
- import documents, presentations, webpages, maps, and images
- save unlimited drafts so you can work on multiple projects at once
- 5GB of cloud storage, enough to store over 150 hours of lessons
- use the pointer tool to direct student attention
- export your lessons as MP4 video files for uploading to other platforms
Those are in addition to their features for free accounts:
- record and replay your voice, handwriting, and drawings
- add typed text in a variety of colors and sizes
- import content from your Google Drive, Dropbox, or the Web
- draw on top of everything with the drawing tool
- edit out any mistakes with the built-in video editor
If you use an iPad with your students and they have the same, then Educreations will be useful to you. One key point is that you can save your lessons as MP4 video files. Those MP4 video files can be saved online via YouTube, G Suite EDU, and other places.
Need to connect with students or insert assessments into videos you create? Some of what EdPuzzle makes possible include:
- Access to more than five million videos
- Ability to create your own interactive video lessons
- Add questions, audio, and notes
- See detailed analytics on your students’ results
- Get storage space videos
EdPuzzle makes that all available and more at no cost to affected schools. Apply online to gain free access.
Looking for a free source of books and audio books? Check out epic! which offers free teacher accounts through June 30, 2020. It’s easy to get setup as a teacher, then add your students. Creating the students’ accounts is as easy as copying-n-pasting their names into a text box.
You can find quite a bit of content online, and your students will have easy access. Here’s some of the content, featuring audio and video books:
This is a fantastic, FREE, and easy tool you can use with teachers and students to stay in contact. Above, you will find a list of some the remote learning resources Flipgrid is sharing. Flipgrid offers a one-page PDF that will help you set up Flipgrid for a remote classroom. Be sure to watch these FlipgridPD webinars to learn the basics of Flipgrid. Share this simple guide to “help the families in your community use Flipgrid to keep their children active, connected and engaged while they are home from school.”
Get More Math (GMM)
Get More Math® (GMM) is offering complimentary use of their program across the state of Texas. Teachers can assign work, monitor students in real time, send personal messages to kids as they are working online. They can also track progress. GMM is TEKS aligned grades 4 through 8, Algebra 1 and Geometry. Alignment for grade 3 and Algebra 2 is not complete. Despite that, there is quite a bit of content already available. Need a contact person? Reach out to Shelly Pelton, Account Manager, via email at [email protected]. You can register for a Get More Math® account.
GoNoodle created a free online resource GoNoodle: Good Energy at Home. It includes premium content and learning materials including movement and mindfulness videos as well as downloadable learning resources and ideas for off-screen activities – and if you sign up for email updates, they plan to send new ideas, activities, and tools to you weekly. There’s also a Good Energy channel on all GoNoodle home apps (iOS, Android, AppleTV, Fire, Roku) where all the best GoNoodle videos can be used by kids directly. Whether it takes the form of a family dance party, a song and activity that reinforces something kids are learning at school, or a mindfulness or yoga video to help us all relieve stress and get a break from the intensity of it all – let’s all work to create Good Energy with our kids during this stressful time.
G Suite EDU
Google is now offering free access to advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing capabilities. This free access will be available until July 1, 2020 and is available to all G Suite and G Suite for Education. The feature includes the following:
- Support for larger meetings (up to 250 participants per call)
- Live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain (e.g. Ardent ISD domain or your district)
- The ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive
The last piece is important since it makes it easier for schools to share content. G Suite EDU admins may find this walk-through helpful. This enables asynchronous sharing of content. This free access is rolling out now for Hangouts Meet and Google Classroom.
Internet Archive – National Emergency Library
Heard the announcement? If not, here it is:
During this unprecedented time in history, access to printed books is becoming difficult or impossible. COVID-19 is forcing students, educators, and everyday readers to rely on digital books more than ever before. That’s why the Internet Archive has temporarily suspended all waitlists, allowing you to immediately check out any of the 1.4 million books currently in our lending library. Until June 30th or the end of the US national emergency (whichever comes later), every borrowable book will be immediately accessible by anyone—creating, in effect, a National Emergency Library.
You can check out to ten of anything, “whether you need classic literature, science textbooks, genre fiction, or even just bedtime story material.” Start browsing here.
This online services seeks to make transitioning from paper to digital easier. To achieve this, it suggests you can load any document into their system. This can include assignments, book reports, team projects, website research, homework, and surveys. Once loaded into their system, you can type, write, or draw on the document(s). You, as teacher, can share the document, embed images, comments, audio, or video clips to instruct.
This provider is offering student schedules. Explore this Google Doc online.
KERA is offering a new curriculum-based television lineup offering free PBS programs and digital resources aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. The new At-Home Learning schedule will air weekdays from 6am to 6pm on KERA TV with specific blocks of time for pre-K through 12th grade levels. This special programming block also will stream live on learn.kera.org, expanding access to this free educational content and enabling students to watch the programming on mobile devices. You can find the program schedule and more information at learn.kera.org. The weekday television lineup is segmented by target grades:
- 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. – Programs for kids in pre-K to 3rd grade.
- 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. – 4th through 8th-graders.
- 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – 9th through 12th graders.
In addition to the new on-air programming, KERA is sharing an At-Home Learning Toolkit, which includes a curated list of educational resources and a weekly calendar with fun and engaging KERA Kids activities for the entire family. The Toolkit includes links to subscribe to KERA’s two education email newsletters – one for parents of young children and one for educators. It also includes a link to PBS LearningMedia, a large, FREE collection of curated TEKS-aligned resources for teaching. Many of the videos, lesson plans, handouts and other materials come from great shows like NOVA, Nature, Masterpiece and Sesame Street.
Children can still watch all their favorite PBS Kids programs around the clock on KERA Kids 24/7 on digital television and channel 13.2 for over the air viewers. You can also stream PBS Kids shows anytime you want from our website. Find the KERA Kids schedule and the streaming link at kids.kera.org.
Students can print and build their own paper Merge Cube, then download Merge EDU apps for hands-on augmented reality experiences that kids and parents will love. Merge products are simple and easy to use, and even younger students can complete activities with accessibility features like Immersive Reader. With over 10 different languages, students from all over the world can continue learning wherever they are. Access Remote Learning with Merge online.
The Microsoft Teams for Education offering provides schools with an online classroom space that is free for schools and universities. What’s more, Microsoft has some on-demand webinars you can watch. Each showcases Microsoft Teams as a way to support student-teacher, student-student interactions. You will need to register to watch the recording.
To gain access, your school district will need to deploy Office 365 A1 license (which is free to education). Once your district enables MS Teams, you can access it at https://teams.microsoft.com. Learn more about Teams availability for schools and businesses.
Teachers can create a personal list of the online learning tools they are using, add notes for each tool and publish it out to parents. It is really simple to use: they search a library of 7,000+ edtech tools, click the “add” button, add any notes (optional), publish, and then share. See it online.
Need access to a teaching, learning, and assessment platform? NearPod is another digital tool making itself available to affected schools. NearPod makes it easy to create interactive lessons, create quizzes, polls, and more. It integrates with Google Slides and you can synchronize lesson slides across all remote learners. It’s a must-have tool in your toolkit and one of my favorites. You can learn more about it online.
OneScreen Hype with Zuni Learning Tree
Get free-of-cost access to the powerful distance and blended learning package, OneScreen Hype with Zuni Learning Tree. It is available to any public or private school in the United States wanting to take their classes online. The software allows teachers to conduct online video classes for their students ( just like Zoom), but comes with additional features and educational resources for educators.
PearDeck makes adding interactivity to Google Slides easier. It’s integrated with G Suite EDU already. This makes it easy to share and save work via Google Classroom. You can get free access to PearDeck online. They offer 30-days free to all new users. They extend that with a 90-day premium access offer. You can request individual or district access via their online forms.
PenPal Schools is offering free access for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools closing around the world, parents are scrambling to find online learning resources that are effective and engaging. Isolated learning software doesn’t cut it – students need to be connected to be engaged. PenPal Schools is so engaging that we have quickly grown to nearly half a million students in 150 countries. Teachers and parents are invited to enroll for free at
penpalschools.com. PenPal Schools connects students from around the world to learn together! Students collaborate through online projects ranging from human rights and the environment to fake news and robotics, all while practicing literacy, technology and social-emotional skills.
Promethean Online Learning
Promethean has free resources that they are offering teachers. Schools can use their free software, ClassFlow, to communicate and share resources with their students. See those resources online.
Ranger Rick Magazine
Need some exciting reading material? One of my childhood favorites was the Ranger Rick Magazine. They are offering three months of free access to all games, jokes, videos, awesome animal articles. This offer is good through June 30, 2020. Sign up online.
Seesaw offers incredible, age-appropriate tools that teachers can use with students and parents. Learn about their remote learning offerings. Per Seesaw’s website:
Seesaw is a platform for student engagement. Teachers can empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate. Students “show what they know” using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links.
Seesaw is easy to use and get started with. It offers many powerful features for free, even more at cost. Teachers can get started here. Here is a quick tutorial video for home learning codes for all students in your class.
Showbie is a real-time application for communication and assessment tool. Showbie is providing free additional licenses to existing customers. These additional licenses cover all staff and students on Showbie Pro and Socrative Pro through July 31, 2020. For non-customers, free access to Showbie Pro and Socrative Pro will be provided through July 31, 2020.
To take advantage of this opportunity, please have your school or district administrator in charge of your COVID-19 response plan, complete this application form. Our team will get back to you within one business day with setup instructions and next steps.
This tool works on desktop/laptop computers, tablets, iPads, and/or mobile phones.
“We have just launched Slido for Education (with new integrations with PowerPoint and Zoom Webinar) which will be free for all teachers and students until July 1st,” says Juraj Pal, Slido. Slido already integrates with Google Slides. What is Slido? It is a tool designed to assist lecturers. The goal is keep them connected during virtual or live classes. It powers two-way interactions. Learn more about Slido for Education, a new offering, online.
Tynker for Schools
Need access to a how-to-code curriculum for your students to engage in at home? You will want to explore Tynker for Schools. They are making their offer available to all K-12 schools. You can read their announcement:
If your school or district is planning a closure for preventative health-related reasons, please complete this form to get full access to the entire Tynker curriculum and platform at no cost. This will give you and your students access to our self-paced, on-demand courses until May 2020, but we will happily extend this offer until your school reopens.
In addition to our existing free online professional development, we will be running a series of webinars to train teachers on how to use Tynker in a remote learning environment. Please visit our training page for details and schedules.
This is a generous offer of accessible curriculum and training for schools.
WriteReader Lesson Plan and Book Templates
Teachers get a year free of access to Vook. This is also open to homeschool educators. From their website:
“Vooks brings children’s books to life with animated illustrations, read-a-long text and narrated story. The ad-free platform features a variety of titles that have been engaging students all across the world. Whether being used as part of the lesson or to wind class down, Vooks is a fun and versatile tool for the classroom.
Learn more about Vook content:
Powerful Tools At Hand
These are all powerful tools made available for educators. Whether COVID-19 prompts social distancing in your area, you should know what tools work best. Be sure to coordinate with other educators and school administrators and decide together how to best approach teleschooling and remote learning. Looking for more resources? Check out Loreen A. Sullivan’s Wakelet collection. You may also find Clay Smith’s collection of interest. Finally, this Google Doc may be of interest. It shows education companies offering free subscriptions.
“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate” -M. Leavitt
Note: This blog has been updated to reflect new services as of 3/14/2020. Check back since new services will continue to be added as we become aware of them.