COVID-19 is creating unprecedented challenges for academic institutions around the world. Education is interactive by nature, but now schools are being forced to provide it without direct contact. This means enabling staff to work from home and students to learn from home. Providing remote access on this scale requires institutions to rely on technology to a greater degree than ever before.
The good news is that many tech companies recognize the challenges schools are facing, and they want to help. Campus Technology has published a list of companies offering assistance to the education industry at this time. Though not exhaustive, the list identifies over 30 special offers and initiatives aimed at helping academic institutions through the COVID-19 crisis.
The offers available to institutions vary in nature, scope, and specific intent. However, from a look at Campus Technology’s list and other offers available, there are some general trends to the approaches that companies are taking. Here are the three most prominent ways in which tech companies are helping the education industry cope with COVID-19.
Keeping Campuses Connected
Communication is integral to education. As institutions transition to remote learning, technology is vital to keeping people connected so they can continue to work, teach, and learn effectively. Recognizing this, many companies are offering schools temporary free access to online communication software.
Google, for example, is offering all G Suite for Education customers free use of Hangout Meets, their premium video-conferencing software. Normally a paid service, Hangout Meets can support conference calls of up to 250 people, allowing even large, lecture-hall college and university courses to be held remotely. Meanwhile, Microsoft is offering schools free access to Microsoft Teams. Institutions that aren’t already licensed to use this popular messaging and video-conferencing application are now entitled to Office 365 E1 – which includes Teams – at no cost and with no specified end date.
And these are just the biggest-name companies offering affordable ways to keep schools connected. CirQlive is offering temporary free use of their integration tool, which makes it easy for schools to schedule and manage online classes. Top Hat is offering free access to its online lecture software for the rest of this semester. All of these measures should make it easier for closed campuses to maintain the communication and collaboration that quality education requires.
At-Home Access to Software
Many college and university courses require the use of specific software. This software is often available only in campus labs and too expensive for students to purchase their own licenses. Fortunately, the companies behind some of this software are making it free for schools to equip their students with at-home access.
Adobe is one example. They are currently allowing all schools that have Adobe Creative Cloud licensed only for lab use to provide students with remote access to the popular software suite at no added cost. Though not on Campus Technology’s list, IBM deserves note for offering a similar benefit. The company is amending current SPSS Statistics Campus agreements to allow for the home use of SPSS Statistics, also at no additional cost to schools. Both measures are aimed at ensuring that students can continue the course-related work for which they need this software while schools are shuttered.
These initiatives are particularly close to our hearts here at Kivuto, as we’re proud to play a role in delivering their benefits to schools. Until July 31, our Kivuto Cloud platform is currently free for all institutions enrolled in either program to facilitate the management, provisioning, and end-user support for SPSS Statistics and/or Adobe Creative Cloud. Click the links below to learn more.
Open Access to Learning Resources
Remote education requires at-home access to textbooks and other learning resources. Realizing this, several tech and publishing companies have taken steps to make these resources available online free of charge during the current crisis.
Cengage is currently offering schools free access to their platform and over 14,000 eBooks for the rest of this semester. Barnes & Noble Education is offering digital self-tutoring and writing services free to higher-ed students. Gale is making educational eTexts freely available through its platform. All with the aim of helping students continue their education in the face of school closures.
This is another area in which we at Kivuto are proud to play a role. We have partnered with Pearson Canada to make a vast array of K-12 curriculum material openly available and easily accessible to any student who wants to continue their education while schools are closed. All stakeholders in education are free to browse the available books or learn more about this initiative here.