Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Online learning can be frustrating for students, teachers and parents, but some methods are working.

The big picture: Just as companies are using this era of telework to try new things, some principals, teachers and education startups are treating remote learning as a period of experimentation, too.

  • Some of these creative fixes for kids might even stick around after the pandemic is over.

"I don’t think people have even had the opportunity to think about what could be good about this," says Lee Ferguson, a high school science teacher in Allen, Texas. "This gives us the opportunity to innovate and to do new things."

1. Teachers are taking advantage of the deconstructed school day's flexibility.

  • Jori Krulder, a high school teacher in Paradise, Calif., found time to do regular one-on-one conferencing with her students because of the looser schedule in the spring. She plans to continue through the fall.
  • Other teachers are recording lessons for students to watch on their own time and using their video calls with kids solely for personalized instruction.
  • “The important part is to make sure that every kid is acknowledged and that every kid has time with me,” Krulder says.

2. The forced switch to remote learning is shaking up teaching and learning for the first time in decades.

  • “Now that we don’t have a captive audience in front of us, engagement — or lack thereof — becomes a lot more obvious,” says Krulder. “Kids can easily multitask or not show up.”
  • That’s prompting teachers to think outside of the traditional lecture method. “We’ve already been doing that, but I think this’ll just accelerate it,” she says.
  • Some are even thinking beyond letter grades. Many schools did away with grades amid the chaos in the spring, and now those qualitative methods of evaluating students might carry over into the post-pandemic world, teachers say.
  • And this stint of remote learning could also prepare students for the future of work. Online school "gives us the opportunity to teach students to be better digital citizens," Ferguson says.

3. Pandemic-era remote learning has also spurred innovation and made way for new types of companies.

  • SitterStream, a Boston-based startup that launched at the beginning of the pandemic, is an Uber for child care. It offers on-demand virtual babysitting and tutoring to kids, both individually and in small pods.
    • Founder Stephanie Africk is betting that her company will be popular even after the pandemic ends. "We know this is the way the future is going," she says.
    • Amazon is offering SitterStream as a workplace benefit for its employees with kids.
  • Transportant, a Kansas startup, has been working with school districts in San Antonio, western Kansas, northern Wisconsin and beyond to try to solve some of remote learning's inequities.
    • The company, which outfits buses with WiFi, had to pivot when the pandemic halted travel. So it started working with school districts to turn its buses into rolling WiFi hotspots that service students without access to the internet.
    • One bus can provide high-speed internet to an entire street or apartment building, founder John Styers tells Axios.

The bottom line: While many students and parents are eager for schools to fully open again, some of the lessons from online school might make American education a little better.

  • Says Ferguson: "As much as online learning takes away the proximity to our students, it can create community in ways that we hadn’t even thought of before."

Go deeper

The public school funding divide

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Bettmann, Barbara Alper/Getty Images

Property taxes are the oxygen that makes public schools thrive, allowing districts with large, wealthy tax bases to offer better educational opportunities to their students while leaving districts with smaller tax bases starved for cash.

Why it matters: The gap plays an outsized role in perpetuating inequality in U.S. schools. Black and Latino students are likely to live in poorer neighborhoods and therefore attend poorer schools — shortchanging their education and producing consequences that snowball throughout K-12 and beyond.

Nov 14, 2020 - Health

America's unequal reliance on school resources

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Getty Images

Environment deeply affects adolescent wellness, and families have come to rely heavily on schools to help them meet challenges ranging from poverty and discrimination to societal pressures to succeed.

The big picture: Black, Latino and Native American students need different kinds of support beyond the classroom to do well in school and for sound emotional development into adulthood.

A reckoning with teaching race and history in America

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Library of Congress, Warren K Leffler/Getty

American history classes have failed to represent the experiences that children of color live, leaving some students struggling to see themselves or their cultures as part of America.

Why it matters: Accurate historical teachings on slavery, indigenous peoples and immigration help all students understand how people of color have shaped American society. Ethnic studies courses can narrow the learning gap and boost the academic performance of some students of color at risk of dropping out, experts say.