Opinion | How Michigan universities are collaborating to continue K-12 learning

Robert Floden is dean of the Michigan State University College of Education, Elizabeth Birr Moje is dean of the University of Michigan School of Education and Anita G. Welch is dean of the Wayne State University College of Education.

In Michigan and throughout the country, COVID-19 and the school closings that have resulted to help contain the virus have left parents and educators scrambling to help children learn from home. Our university students who were student teaching now are unable to be in the classroom, and our research and outreach to school districts around the state in many cases have been curtailed.

But here at the Michigan State University College of Education, the University of Michigan School of Education and the Wayne State University College of Education, we still know how to help children succeed. Our educators and researchers are redoubling our efforts to assist school districts, parents and children deal with the challenges posed to education during a global pandemic.

That work is especially strong because our three universities are joined together in Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC). For years, we’ve collaborated to research best practices in education and how to get what we’ve learned into the hands of teachers and school districts throughout Michigan.

That knowledge remains important as school districts and students pivot to distance learning. But there are also new challenges to address as students and parents deal with managing stress and anxiety during this unprecedented period. We’re working to provide resources that can be tapped at home, and reaching out to parents and our alumni to share strategies for enhancing their children’s education at home. 

One example is Wayne State University’s #HealthyKidsQuarantined website, which provides activities, resources and fun challenges through weekly calendars for elementary and middle school children. MSU’s College of Education is working with WKAR TV to create short videos on topics like keeping kids physically active and promoting literacy, as well as linking to resources from PBS.  U-M School of Education’s webpage provides a guide for teachers and parents in supporting themselves and their students while trying to teach and learn during the COVID-19 crisis. The site contains links to family and teaching resources for public health advice, anxiety and self-care advice, instructional guidance and an opportunity to “Ask an Expert” for help with teaching and learning online. 

This is an extraordinary time, but our past work has shown that every challenge presents opportunities to build on what we know works and to join together to find new solutions for changing circumstances. We’re continuing to evaluate what’s working and what’s not as school districts find new ways to provide education, meals and support to students no longer physically in school. We’re researching new approaches, tapping new technologies and tools and getting feedback from educators, students and parents, and sharing what we learn with educators statewide.

With so much unknown about how long social distancing will last and when and how K-12 schools will reopen, it’s more important than ever that the best URC minds are focused on finding new solutions in these uncertain times. As longtime educators, we recognize the resilient nature of children. We’re determined to work with parents and educators and our own university students to make sure Michigan’s children get the education they need to have the future each one deserves.

Robert Floden is dean of the Michigan State University College of Education, Elizabeth Birr Moje is dean of the University of Michigan School of Education and Anita G. Welch is dean of the Wayne State University College of Education.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission.

If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Monica WilliamsClick here for details and submission guidelines.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Not A Bleeding Heart
Mon, 05/18/2020 - 12:18pm

Teachers can put together a syllabus and parents can implement it. Teachers can monitor progress and test while parents take the time and action to explain. Ultimately, it is a parent's responsibility to educate their children. In this way, teachers can continue to be "facilitators" to both children and parents. This is an opportunity to get more parents more involved. I have long thought that it is wrong for parents to send their kids off to school with the belief that "it's the schools responsibility."