COVID-19 caused an unprecedented wave of school shutdowns with over 120,000 school closures impacting 55 million students across the United States. Early on, the prevailing thought was that closures would disrupt only year-end courses. But as the pandemic continued, the impending threat of school cancellations extending through part or the whole of the 2020–21 school year required school administrators, teachers, parents, and the students to find workable alternative solutions. It was here that University of Phoenix stepped in to try and help.
In May 2020, University of Phoenix announced an exciting partnership with leading educational tech company Blackboard to deliver targeted assistance to schools across the United States. While Blackboard brought forth the technology and education on the platform, University of Phoenix contributed decades of experience in online education and virtual-only courses. This power duo also united leading K-12 experts, and together, the group formed the Alliance for Virtual Learning.
The Alliance for Virtual Learning delivered the critical assistance educators were clamoring for in order to try and provide effective online education. As quickly as May 2020, University of Phoenix and other Alliance for Virtual Learning members leveraged their expertise to create a series of exciting webinars shared throughout the summer. The series aimed to prepare teachers, administrators, and students for a 2020–21 school year that looked and proved to be a mostly online educational experience.
This series of webinars included the following integral online courses:
- “What We’ve Learned: The Shift to Virtual Teaching and Learning”: This moderated discussion served as a perfect introduction, highlighting the responses and approaches educators took during the final weeks of the 2019–20 school year. Participants also explored how to leverage those early learning experiences toward a more impactful 2020–21 school year.
- “Where We’re Going: How to Succeed in the ‘New Normal’”: This webinar included experts from University of Phoenix and offered guidance for educators unfamiliar with online courses, sharing how to shift to successful virtual-only teaching.
- “Virtual Teaching Academy”: This six-day online workshop explored how teachers and administrators can transition effectively to a virtual-only curriculum. This workshop series also included courses on operating with the equity and disparity of students switching to a home-based school and addressing the emotional and social needs of virtual students.
Courses included in the free Virtual Teaching Academy are available to the public. Any teacher interested in learning more about creating an effective online-only curriculum and related techniques can visit https://go.blackboard.com/virtual-teaching-academy and leverage the array of resources for the success of their students.
These and other workshops presented by University of Phoenix in concert with the Alliance for Virtual Learning were a great success. Of course, this work is ongoing as many schools continue to operate either partially or fully online in the 2021-22 school year. As such, University of Phoenix remains committed to the partnership and the creation of new course material in order to help teachers and administrators become more effective in teaching and leading an online curriculum.