A Silver Lining in Pandemic Disruption to Learning in Schools

As a result of COVID-19, schools at all levels are in chaos at the moment and it doesn’t look as though this chaos will end by the fall. The big question is how can we take advantage of this online learning and learning from home. There is always a silver lining in every cloud and this is a big cloud. That silver lining is the disruption of the education system and an opportunity to revitalize it with enabling support from parents, extended family and community.

The blended learning model which I have used for years in Palo Alto High Media Arts Program can provide some insights that can be transferred to other subject areas and grade levels from K through college and at home. It is complemented by parenting that produces successful adults. The discussion will focus on the commonality of learning principles at all age levels and how we can best employ them.


Esther Wojcicki is the founder of the scholastic journalism at Palo Alto High School, now the largest in the nation. Over the past 30 years she built the journalism program from a small group of 20 students in 1985 to over 600 students in 2014 and five other journalism teachers. The program has won major national and international recognition and is a model of how to integrate the curriculum and teach 21st century skills.

She is a 2009 MacArthur Foundation Research Fellow for the Student Journalism 2.0 project; the 2002 California Teacher of the Year by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing; the 2011 Charles O’Malley Award recipient from Columbia Scholastic Press, and holds an honorary doctorate from Palo Alto University (2013).

She is Vice Chair of the Board of Creative Commons, Chair of PBS Learning Matters, and on the board of the Alliance For Excellent Education. She is also an adviser to EdSurge, Hapara and Shmoop and CEO of ClassBadges.