As I write this, class may be in session—most likely online—for many schools and universities around the world. Over the past several months, how we teach and how we learn has been flipped upside down. Many teachers and faculty have been incorporating new tools into their lessons, often for the first time. And students are experiencing new methods of learning, which will have an important, lasting impact. With this transition, it has become clear that with the required physical distance between teachers and students, it’s more important than ever to help educators find ways to connect with students and keep them engaged, motivated, and safe in a digital world.

Many signals point to the continued use of digital tools for remote and hybrid learning into the fall and beyond. From research We found 61 percent said they expect to begin the next school year in a hybrid learning environment—a mix of remote and in-person learning—and 87 percent said they expect to use technology more than before once in-classroom teaching resumes.

Read on for insights from educators, parents, and institutional leaders on what we’ve learned together from the transition to remote learning this year, how they’re preparing for the fall, and the new ways we’re supporting their remote and hybrid learning needs.

For educators, traditional lesson plans do not always translate digitally—and in many cases, teachers are finding they can’t recreate the school day with just live sessions. According to our community of educators, over half said “keeping students engaged digitally” and “student participation” are the top challenges they faced during remote learning.

New remote learning formats require new thinking to create compelling, engaging, and inclusive content. To ensure strong student engagement across different activities and maintain secure digital classrooms, educators are turning to a central hub of digital tools for remote learning.

As students, faculty, educators, institutional leaders, and families prepare for remote and hybrid learning in the fall, we want to support them in the best way possible, so today we are announcing that:

Common Sense has launched an online school to help educators and families cope with remote learning and teaching. “Wide Open School,” as it’s called, features resources curated by the media organization and provided by a number of well known education content providers, including Khan Academy, Scholastic, Time for Kids, National Geographic, PBS, Sesame Workshop and others. The daily learning activities are organized by grade band and subject.

Cute little girl in stripped T-shirt shouting out alphabet letters. Speech therapy.

The website features:

Coverage of math, English language arts, science, social studies, science and the arts;

Virtual field trips;

Resources for special needs students and English learners;

Ideas for physical activities and life skills;

Links to daily live events; and

Guidance on emotional well-being.

There’s also a link to a bunch of guidance on setting up a virtual classroom. For grades 6-12, that incorporates links to remote learning resources, how-to’s on setting up Google for Education and Zoom, digital citizenship lessons and a list of the “best messaging apps and websites for students, teachers and parents.”

While most of the sites require no log-in for access, some do require registration. Common Sense has warned users that the external websites and applications “are governed by their own privacy policies or information-collection practices.” For that reason, the organization advised, “We encourage you to review the privacy policies and information-collection practices of any external websites and apps before using them with children.”

“This crisis has reminded us of our deep appreciation for the work teachers do every day in their classrooms,” company officials noted in an “about us” page. “At Wide Open School, we celebrate teachers–and parents–as they take on this new challenge.”

Wide Open School is freely available online.

Visit our remote learning site to see how we can help.

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