Supporting parents and children where they live, work and learn

Official grant name

Supporting parents and children where they live, work and learn

Principal investigator

Meredith Toth

Direct sponsor

Arizona Public Service Foundation

Award start date


Award end date


The challenge

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many working parents had to transform themselves into teachers overnight, structuring their children’s school day, providing tech support, helping with homework and motivation. Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is home to some of the country’s leading education experts on the intellectual and socioemotional growth and needs of K–12 students. The principal investigators raise the question: How can we connect a parent’s need to know how to help their child with the expertise of MLFTC? Historically, colleges' and universities' intellectual and practical capital were locked behind the gate of enrollment in a degree or certificate program. COVID-19 was another indicator that this model needs to change.

The approach

The team designed a set of learning experiences called nanocourses. Nanocourses offer tips and strategies for those outside the education profession, and are focused on practical application. Recognizing the diverse learning preferences of potential users, nanocourses use a variety of means to communicate and reinforce learning. “We created infographics that users can download to use offline," the PIs write. "And to provide examples of a strategy in action, we use a comic strip approach which was developed in response to another COVID-related challenge: the inability to film adults and children trying the strategy together.”

MLFTC  has shared these nanocourses with dozens of end users to gather feedback, identify areas of improvement and validate the effectiveness of the approach, bringing the voice of those actually using the materials into the design and development process.

Findings and impact

More than 500 active participants have enrolled in two or more nanocourses. The team has also partnered with local industries, such as APS, to further expand its reach through co-marketing.