Keep calm and trust in edtech: tools to support teaching amid coronavirus closures

With schools worldwide buckling under the threat of a COVID-19 epidemic, what tools and resources can teachers rely on to support remote learning?

Coronavirus closures are rapidly progressing through the global education sector.

It’s an issue that has dominated headlines since 31 December, 2019. Originating in Wuhan City in China’s Hubei Province, coronavirus – otherwise known as COVID-19 – has now spread to 83 more countries (at the time of writing), including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, the USA and France.

Italy felt the full force of the outbreak on Wednesday 4 March, when the government ordered a shutdown of all schools and universities. The US has also hinted at the potential closure of education institutes, bringing the total number of students worldwide who have been impacted by the outbreak to almost 300m. These fast-moving developments prompted Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay to issue a statement saying “the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) previously referred to the outbreak as an ‘epidemic’ over a ‘pandemic’; but on Friday 28 February, WHO increased their assessment of the global risk of spread and impact from ‘high’ to ‘very high’. With COVID-19’s swift advancement through Asia, the Middle East and Europe, we could well be on the cusp of a world health pandemic.

Education providers around the globe have been urged to map out detailed coronavirus strategies. While governments have issued advice on the outbreak specifically for places of education, it’s imperative for sector leaders to consider the digital tools, resources and infrastructure their institution has in place in case of coronavirus closures or quarantines. Edtech has the potential to support remote teaching and learning, and so long as we act now, there’s no reason for education to grind to a halt.

Coronavirus closures across schools, colleges and universities should not disrupt student learning. Here, we’ve listed some of the most useful tools and resources for educators to use amid the COVID-19 outbreak:

CENTURY Tech’s AI teaching and learning platform

UK social enterprise CENTURY Tech has vowed to give schools affected by the virus access to its AI-powered teaching and learning platform.

CENTURY’s AI engine enables a flexible, tailored education, which means students can learn from anywhere with a good enough network connection. With many students around the world now working in isolation, the company has stepped in to support continued access to the curriculum through its AI capabilities. Last month, CENTURY asked every impacted British curriculum or English-speaking school in Hong Kong and China to get in touch for free logins that enabled students and teachers to access the platform from home.

“When serious disruption occurs, from natural disasters to outbreaks of disease, education has traditionally drastically suffered,” Priya Lakhani OBE, founder and chief executive of CENTURY Tech, told Sifted. “We are increasingly offering our platform for free to in-need communities, such as Syrian refugees displaced in the Middle East.”


For a limited time, the game-based learning platform Kahoot! is granting free access to its Premium solution for schools and universities impacted by coronavirus closures.

Kahoot! Premium’s distance learning offerings let teachers host gamified learning sessions via video conferencing, and also allows them to assign self-paced games for homework.

Empowered by Premium, educators will receive advanced reports that can be used for formative assessment purposes. As well as this, the innovative tool helps teachers compile a catalogue of school-wide academic games and collaborate with other teachers from their institution.

Kahoot! Basic, a free version, features the same distance learning game modes and is and will always be available for free for K-12 teachers and schools.

Click here to activate Premium for schools | Click here to activate Premium for higher ed

Discovery Education

Discovery Education – digital content creators for primary and secondary schools – has added hundreds of brand-new assets to its award-winning portfolio.

Among the recently added resources to the Discovery Education Experience and the Science and Social Studies Techbooks are a variety of exciting titles for educators to integrate into instruction.

From teaching students about the virus itself, to engaging in the 2020 election, celebrating Women’s History Month and more – Discovery Education’s new resources can help minimise the disruption caused by the virus outbreak.

Users of Discovery Education’s digital services can find the new content here.

Google for Education

Google for Education will provide free upgrades to its G Suite for Education productivity apps – which includes its video conferencing systems – for the remainder of the school year.

On top of this, the platform has announced its commitment to offering free advanced Hangouts Meet capabilities from now until June.

These innovative resources will prove invaluable in the event of a school shutdown. Google Meet, for example, can be used to monitor student attendance, while Google Classroom lets teachers upload resources, set deadlines, and allows students to submit work which teachers can then mark and send back corrections, supporting individual student understanding and development.

Book Creator

Book Creator – an app that combines text, images, audio and video to create interactive stories, digital portfolios, research journals, poetry books, comic strips, instruction manuals and more – has compiled a list of concepts and ideas for using Book Creator in remote or distance learning.

Additionally, the company is offering everyone the ability to collaborate on books in real-time – usually a premium feature earned through a paid subscription. Book Creator is offering schools this tool free of charge for 90 days, helping to keep remote classrooms connected and engaged.


Quizlet is an interactive learning platform and app which supplements existing modes of teaching, enabling students to engage with the study material in a way that suits their learning styles, and provides teachers with a vast array of study sets they can use with their own students.

Quizlet Teachers gives access to ‘Class Progress’, which allows them to analyse an individual student’s study activity and provides data on the performance levels of a whole class. Quizlet also lets teachers create their own study materials for students to interact with, even outside of the classroom, meaning that teachers can monitor progress remotely.

Though parents may not always have the time to sit down and study with their children, they can set tests and complete games with them through the app to make sure they understand the study material, before reporting back to teachers on their child’s progress.

In related news: China’s ‘close contact detector’ app helps users test exposure to coronavirus

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