Information Technology Services brings USC together for online learning

When COVID-19 threatened to disrupt USC’s family ties and sense of connection this semester, experts in USC Information Technology Services quickly stepped in.

They had to provide a virtual space online where Trojan students, faculty, staff and alumni could get together while they stayed physically apart. And they had to do it fast.

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“We moved up to fifth gear in March, and we haven’t really backed down from there,” said Veronica Garcia, associate chief information officer of application services. “Last semester was the disruptor, and it was about reacting and learning how to be online. This semester, we knew we had to provide more.”

Dozens of ITS developers, coders and technicians studied ways to use technology to bring Trojans together. They were joined by ITS communication and training experts to plan, promote and teach people how to use the new tech. The result: virtual learning for students this fall that

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Gov. Wolf putting CARES Act funding into high-speed internet for schools to support remote learning

Governor Tom Wolf has announced a $15 million program to help schools in Pennsylvania fund high-speed internet platforms and remote learning.

The money is part of the funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was dispersed to support states during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal act authorizes state governors to access money from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funds in order to support educational efforts.

The plan from the Wolf administration will include securing broadband, mobile hot spots, tablets and other hardware for remote learning students, partnerships with the state library network and with the Pennsylvania Technical Training and Assistance Network, expanding the POWER Library Chat online homework help service, creating Open Educational Resources for student and teacher use, and creating a datacasting service with Pennsylvania PBS to connect students without internet access to their schools and other learning content via TV signals.

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Spectrum introduces high-speed Internet service that schools can offer students for at-home learning

Christel Deskins

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Spectrum, a telecommunications company, is unveiling a cable broadband plan that provides another option for households with students needing high-speed Internet for at-home classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

a wooden cutting board: Remote learning requires adequate Internet service.

© Plain Dealer staff/Pexels/
Remote learning requires adequate Internet service.

It’s called “Stay Connected K-12” and it would cost $29.99 a month per household with 50 megabits per second for downloading and 5 megabits for uploading. Spectrum would not contract directly with customers, however, but with schools.


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A minimum of 50 connections per school would be required for a school to take advantage of the program, according to Connie Luck, a Spectrum representative who detailed the plan to members of Cleveland City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday.

Council President Kevin Kelley, who chairs the committee, said Spectrum asked to speak to the council about its offering, although the council has no authority to negotiate on behalf of

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Georgia teachers celebrate virtual learning with awesome hype videos

Christel Deskins

Two Georgia high school teachers who recently started their year online decided they would not let the changes of school this fall hold them — or their students — down.

So they made a hype video about it.

Audrianna Williams and Callie Evans are teachers at Monroe Comprehensive High School in Albany, Georgia, a 75,000-person town three hours north of Atlanta.

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Williams and Evans, who started a tradition of back-to-school video several years ago, felt that some positive energy in 2020 would be more important than ever.

“We have been affected dramatically by COVID-19 here, and some of our students lost family members to the virus,” Williams, who teaches AP U.S. History and other social studies classes, told TODAY Parents.

Albany was hit particularly hard by COVID-19 last spring; at one point, it was

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Tech barriers to remote learning send parents scrambling, expose ‘digital chasm’

Christel Deskins

Matielyn Jones, a mom of two from Georgia, did everything she could to help her school-age son succeed as he navigates remote learning this semester — investing in a new laptop, desk and chair so he could be as prepared as possible to succeed in his virtual classes.

When her son’s first day of third grade rolled around, however, his school district’s remote learning portal abruptly crashed. Jones, who recently left her full-time job mostly to help her children with virtual learning this semester, felt helpless.

“It made me laugh a little on the inside, I think our teachers are doing the best they can, and our system, they’re trying,” Jones said. “I knew we’d have a bumpy start.”

PHOTO: Matielyn Jones said she bought her son a new laptop, desk and chair for his virtual semester amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Matielyn Jones)

Still, Jones said while she

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Many Schools Are Using a Hybrid Learning Model This Year; Here’s What Parents Should Know

Christel Deskins

going back to school in the traditional sense may be entirely off the table. And regardless of how old your children are, navigating these uncertain times have proven to be a hellish nightmare we wish we could wake up from challenging to say the least. While some families are setting up “pandemic pods” – where a small group of students of similar ages and abilities gathers at one family’s home to learn from a teacher – others are working with their local districts using a hybrid learning model.” data-reactid=”19″Depending on what part of the US you live in, going back to school in the traditional sense may be entirely off the table. And regardless of how old your children are, navigating these uncertain times have proven to be a hellish nightmare we wish we could wake up from challenging to say the least. While some families are

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UNC-Chapel Hill Pivots to Remote Learning 1 Week After Classes Start as Coronavirus Cases Soar

Christel Deskins

Ted Richardson/getty images Students returned to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced it will be shifting to remote learning after coronavirus cases among students soared just one week into the new school year.

The announcement came on Monday, just seven days after the university held its first week of in-person classes. Since then, 130 students have tested positive, according to CNN.

In the past week, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests rose from 2.8 percent to 13.6 percent — and as of Monday morning, almost 1,000 students have been tested, with 177 placed in isolation and an additional 349 in quarantine, according to a university statement. So far, the majority of students who have tested positive have only “demonstrated mild symptoms.”

Starting Wednesday, all undergraduate classes will be conducted remotely, and UNC-Chapel Hill will allow students to

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9 ways to get through at-home learning this fall, from teachers

Christel Deskins

As schools across the United States reopen for the 2020-21 school year either completely online or with an online learning option amid continuing concerns about COVID-19, a lot of parents are finding themselves supervising their children’s school days.

The thought of being responsible for their children’s academic experiences is daunting for parents who are trying to juggle multiple children or working from home — especially after last spring’s sudden school shutdown and the crisis learning that followed.

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Knowing that everyone is overwhelmed right now, we asked teachers — including Sarah Brown Wessling, the 2010 National Teacher of the Year — to give their best advice to parents preparing for this unconventional school year.

1. Set the scene

Wessling, an English teacher at Johnson High School in Des Moines, Iowa, told TODAY Parents it’s important

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Moms brace for school year juggling jobs, remote learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

Christel Deskins

Traci Wells was at a school board meeting when she found out the springtime balancing act between her job and helping her children with online schooling would stretch into the fall. 

“I was like, I cannot do six more months of this,” says Wells, a mother of four, who is director of education for the global health program at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. With her husband working as well, “I don’t know how we’re going to be on all the calls and get the work done when we have these responsibilities. It’s just really, really hard.”

When the coronavirus outbreak led schools to shut down in the spring, parents had to quickly rally, juggling their jobs with the added roles of teacher, tutor and occasional IT technician.

It was a stressful time, but one that many families presumed would be temporary, coming at the end of the school

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Remote Learning Doesn’t Work For All Students

Christel Deskins

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Q: Nearly every state in the country ordered schools closed last spring, and tens of millions of public-school students will continue learning online this fall. The question on the minds of many Americans is, how can we promote remote learning that actually works for all students? 

The public charter school you run in Washington, D.C., halted in-person instruction in March. How did your school handle the shutdown and shift to virtual learning?    

Mashea Ashton, CEO and principal, Digital Pioneers Academy: Our mission is to develop the next generation of innovators. This year we’ll have 326 sixth- through eighth-grade scholars. 98% of them are Black and 2% are Latino, and 97% of them live in wards 7 and 8 in southeast Washington, D.C. We are the first computer science middle school in all of D.C., meaning that prior to the pandemic, all of our scholars took 45 minutes

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