Several Los Angeles tech businesses have stepped up to assist the thousands of students and educators across the United States who are adapting to virtual classrooms amid coronavirus-driven school closures.
Cornerstone OnDemand Inc., a Santa Monica-based talent management company, on April 2 rolled out a free, online course for K-12 teachers that offers guidance on remote teaching.
The company has more than 3,600 clients worldwide across industries. It develops cloudbased software for talent recruiting, training and management, and creates content that facilitates onboarding and training processes. Its clients in the education sector include Green Dot Public Schools, the New York City Department of Education, KIPP Houston Public Schools and Sylvan Learning.
“There has been such a significant disruption to traditional models of classrooms and workplace,” said Summer Salomonsen, head of Cornerstone’s Content Studios, the company’s division for original content creation.
She said the Cornerstone course is designed to help teachers with the transition from teaching in a real classroom to teaching in a virtual one.
“Traditionally, teachers rely on very physical methods to teach in the classroom — their tone, their posture, their moving around the room. In the online environment, you are going to have to spend a lot of time thinking about the words you use to prompt your students,” Salomonsen said.
The course is hosted on the Cornerstone Cares website, which was launched March 17 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The site also offers tips for remote working and stress management for the company’s corporate clients.
Cornerstone Cares has reached more than 50,000 unique visitors since its launch, according to the company.
Other digital education companies are focused on helping students. Myles Hunter, chief executive of Century City-based online education platform TutorMe, said his company is working around the clock to meet demand for services such as 24/7 online tutoring support and asynchronous paper reviews.
TutorMe has more than 10,000 tutors across the U.S., Hunter said, and all have a minimum of two years tutoring or teaching experience. Most hold a master’s degree.
Schools pay TutorMe to connect their learning management systems with the company’s platform. The company also offers service packages to individual students. The cost depends on the number of students and tutoring hours requested, Hunter said.
“We expected some outreach from schools to inquire about our services, but we didn’t expect it to be like this,” he said. The company saw a 25% increase over each preceding week, with the first week of March being the first base week, according to Hunter.
Paper Education Co. has seen increasing demand for its tutoring platform, too.
“Since school closures, we have seen activity increase over 30% on Paper, with many schools seeing engagement go up as much as 10 times what it was in February,” said Chief Executive Philip Cutler.
Paper, formerly known as GradeSlam, is a Montreal-based remote tutoring company with an office in Santa Monica. The company works with school districts to deliver tutoring services to K-12 students, according to Cutler.
Southern California is the company’s biggest market with more than 50,000 users in the Los Angeles area, he said. “It was evident that schools in Southern California were far more prepared for virtual instruction, remote learning and remote teaching. It has become more of a part of their learning and teaching than anywhere else,” Cutler said.
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