As schools across the country close amid the COVID-19 pandemic some education companies have offered free learning software to students of all ages and education levels.
The COVID-19 outbreak has shut down operations across the county and was the reasoning behind Gov. Bill Lee’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 12, followed by a national state of emergency that was declared by President Donald Trump on March 13.
On March 12 Williamson County Schools announced its plans to tackle the public health crisis and on March 16 it was announced that WCS and Franklin Special School District schools will remain closed through at least April 3.
In response corporations, organizations and more have worked to connect students, educators and parents with new and existing digital, at-home educational experiences.
On March 13 Scholastic launched Scholastic Learn At Home, a free digital learning hub that allows open access to a variety of lessons for children in Pre-K and kindergarten, grades 1 and 2, Grades 3-5 and Grades 6–9 plus, covering English Language Arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Science, Social Studies and Social-Emotional Learning.
According to a news release, Scholastic Learn At Home provides approximately three hours of learning opportunities a day for up to four weeks of instruction, including writing and research projects based on nonfiction articles and stories, as well as virtual field trips, reading and geography challenges, and access to a new digital community for kids called Scholastic Home Base.
Scholastic said that teachers can also plan virtual learning meetups to discuss and expand on any of the resources found on the site.
“As more and more teachers, students, and families around the world are affected by the coronavirus, our priority is to support them in the best way we know how — by providing them with rich stories and meaningful projects that will keep kids academically active,” Scholastic Classroom Magazines Senior Vice President & Editor-in-Chief/Publisher Lauren Tarshis said, “We designed Scholastic Learn At Home knowing that administrators and teachers need to create extensive virtual learning plans, quickly, and that students need uplifting and engaging experiences. Our hope is that even though daily routines are being disrupted and students may not have valuable time in school with their educators, together we can support meaningful learning at home while it is necessary."
Scholastic: Learn at Home is accessible on all devices, including smart phones, and with no sign-up required.
According to the news release, activities are flexible for using any writing materials students have readily available at home with no printing required, and lesson plans designed to reduce the planning burden on teachers and families needing to ensure continuity in daily learning.
Scholastic said that the digital hub will remain free and open indefinitely, and the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines have also launched a collection of kid-friendly resources for learning about coronavirus: https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/coronavirus.html
On March 12 Adobe, the makers of digital arts, design and editing software, such as Photoshop, announced that their higher education and K-12 institutional customers globally who give students access to their programs in a school classroom will now have access to their products with home-use access codes.
This means that students can now access to a variety of professional programs from home through May 31 at no additional cost.
"We also know that delivering engaging experiences through distance learning is a new paradigm for many teachers and faculty," a news release reads. "Through our community, we’ve curated resources to help educators and school leaders discover inspiring projects, best practices, and new ideas so they can continue to drive valuable learning in virtual environments."
MUSEUMS AND MORE
In addition to the new programs, museums, libraries and colleges have offered various educational resources for free since before the viral outbreak, such as a collection of Paris museums that has 150,906 images of paintings, prints, coins and more on their website, while the museum at Italy's Trajan’s Market offers a completely virtual tour of the museum.
Nashville's own Frist Art Museum offers a variety of videos on their YouTube channel that explore past and present exhibits including dozens of extended lectures and panel discussions.
Museum Computer Network compiled "The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections" which features a variety of web portals, virtual tours and online exhibits, e-learning courses for children, and digitized collections and archives.
Resources include “Art Like Me” Culturally-Relevant Art Workbook for Kids from MCA Chicago, Remembering Lincoln, the Ford’s Theatre: Interactive online exhibit, access to 113 museum coloring books and more.
PBS Digital Studios has produced the YouTube channel The Art Assignment for several years where creator, host and curator Sarah Urist Green does a deep dive into the history, meaning and value of art.
Freecodecamp.org also compiled a list of free online courses from Ivy League schools including Harvard, Princeton and Yale, and more, where students can learn about topics from programing and engineering to improving communication skills or American Contract Law.