There was a time in late spring when the amount of misinformation about COVID-19 seemed to be spreading faster than the virus itself. Educators and students were often left with more questions than answers while trying to manage the challenges of distance learning at the same time.
Leaders at the State Department of Education (CSDE) recognized the need to make available more comprehensive learning materials for educators to teach students about the pandemic. It did not take long for a group of volunteers from Yale School of Medicine (YSM) and educators across the state to come together in a collaboration to create COV-Ed, an online resource tool for educators and students to learn about the challenges of the pandemic. COV-Ed is initially targeted for the high school level.
“The goal of the COV-Ed site is to provide a platform for questions, asking students to seek answers using science and data as evidence,” according to project co-director Polly Painter, director of strategic relations for precision medicine at YSM.
“Our public-school teachers have done a very impressive, time-sensitive job transitioning to distance learning platforms and curriculum in the past months,” says Ron Michaels, project co-director and state science consultant at the Department of Education. “COV-Ed provides a tool for high schoolers to find answers to the myriad questions they’re faced with daily.”
COV-Ed, which can be used in-person or online, consists of 10 learning modules covering such topics as what makes the pandemic unique, how to think critically about information, the science of the virus and various treatments, different types of testing, prevention, and vaccination. Each module has readings, videos, questions for discussion, and dynamic activities for students to complete that are designed to meet Connecticut State Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Importantly, each module asks students to consider the topic through the lens of equity and justice. Modules also feature the work of Yale researchers and physicians and members of the community, and highlight career opportunities in health care.
Erica Gerace, a high school science teacher on the team, hopes the website will not only challenge students to actively investigate content knowledge and such scientific concepts as pandemics, infections, and coronaviruses, but will also encourage independent thought through the analysis of data and sources, prompting students to question the credibility of sources when searching for information. “I’m excited that I can contribute to this effort using my expertise as both a scientist and a classroom teacher,” she says.
Yale Undergraduate Teaching and Outreach Librarian Kelly Blanchat, who is also on the project team, would like students to apply information literacy skills to real life situations. “So often information literacy is framed around research and scholarship, and while these skills are essential for academics, they are the foundation for being an informed citizen,” she says
Tyra Pendergrass, associate director of the Yale play2PREVENT Lab, wanted to create a resource for students to learn about a current event that is unfolding in real time and affecting them and those around them. “We’d love to get some funding to translate the site into Spanish, since there is a real need for online tools for speakers of other languages, and also create some online gaming tools for this information.”
Other members of the COV-Ed working group include, from YSM, Lynn Fielliln, MD, professor of medicine; Caitlin Meyer, MLS, research and education librarian; Zorana Ivcevic Pringle, PhD, senior research scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; Peter Takizawa, PhD, assistant professor of cell biology; and Jaideep Talwalkar, MD, associate professor of internal medicine (general medicine); high school educators Terry Contant and Charlene Woodland; and student interns Noah Sapire and Jordan Zajac.
Visit the site: COV-Ed – Learning Goes Viral!