COVID-19 Reimagine Learning Challenge

How might we help educators, parents, and students adapt to remote learning while also using this moment to radically reimagine what we need our education systems to be?

In Partnership With
Let’s find the possibilities within this moment, and reimagine the future of pre-K-12 learning in the post-pandemic world.
Let’s find the possibilities within this moment, and reimagine the future of pre-K-12 learning in the post-pandemic world.

This Challenge was launched to surface collaborative ideas from those who are impacted most by school closures including parents/caregivers, students, and educators. More than 400 creative ideas from around the world were submitted by people striving to reshape schools and learning post-COVID.

Following the Challenge, a team of designers and researchers from IDEO synthesized submissions to better understand how current solutions and practices may foreshadow future trends in education.


XQ high school students who have been adapting to school closures reviewed and selected submissions, based on their alignment to the Principles of Impact and Scalability developed by HundrED. 20 selected submissions were announced on June 23, 2020 and will be offered the following resources:


Explore the Insights that emerged from the Challenge.

Take a look at the 20 selected concepts that emerged from the Ideas Phase!

Check out our recent webinar with a panel of educators and learning experts.

Sign up to receive email updates about the Challenge.

Follow OpenIDEO on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and/or Facebook to receive weekly insights emerging from the Challenge.

Participants were welcome to submit solutions to the Beyond the Bag Challenge through one of three submission channels. Learn more about each channel.


The world is currently united in confronting the consequences of COVID-19. For 91% of students, parents, and educators around the world, a front-and-center challenge is how to adapt to learning from home. 

Seemingly overnight students have had to adjust their definition of “classroom,” and parents have taken on a new responsibility in addition to finding or maintaining a job.

We feel this reality daily at IDEO. We’re trying, best we can, to share advice or offer support to suddenly stretched colleagues balancing business pressures with 1st graders seeking some post-lunch play time. Our Teachers Guild and Design For Learning studio are conversing daily with students and educators, revealing the need to both respond to the immediate concerns of educators and families, while also reimagining more equitable and resilient learning systems for the future. 

All the ingenuity we see is inspiring. Communities are mobilizing to provide essential services in ways we might never have thought possible before this outbreak began. Educators and students, alike, are adapting on the fly to remote classrooms—sometimes upending decades-old models of learning over the course of a single video conference session. 

The education system has long been ripe for this sort of radically imaginative thinking. And nobody knows this more than those who work within it. Many inequalities exposed by this crisis were already there when it started and are only deepening. Some of the biggest, most fundamental questions about how we teach and learn no longer have the luxury of being considered slowly. The urgency to evolve is suddenly here.

During this moment, we've been wondering...

What if technology brands provided connection services and equipment for schools in need? 
What if professional sports teams created and hosted virtual PE sessions for students, educators and families?
What if there was a nationally broadcast virtual Spelling Bee?
What if meal kit delivery services created special boxed meals for families in need?

In all of it, we see possibility. With deliberate action, many of the innovations we can imagine in this moment can lead us to a future that is more vibrant, equitable, and engaging for every student. One teacher’s experimental stopgap solution today might be the status quo of 2021. One school district’s hacked-together emergency plan could become common practice for entire nations.

That’s why we’re launching this challenge. We want to use IDEO’s power as a connector within the education system, and help great ideas reach the innovators and funders who can help them take hold. We want to spotlight the best examples of creativity and resourcefulness among educators and families, so every learning community has a chance to emerge from this better than it entered.

We’re inviting you to show us: What are you trying? What are your hopes for the future? And of course, what are you learning?

Challenge Journey

Ideas Phase

May 5, 2020

May 26, 2020

Celebration Phase

Jun 1, 2020

Jun 30, 2020

Current Phase
Ideas Phase

The Ideas Phase has closed, but you can explore the community's submissions here.

The Ideas Phase: Use this Phase to share ideas for how to reimagine the future of pre-K-12 learning in the post-pandemic world. 

Sign up to join our webinar on June 9 at 8am PDT, where students and learning experts will discuss the outcomes of the Challenge and opportunities for reimagining learning moving forward. Stay tuned for an announcement of panelists.


Let’s find the possibilities within this moment, and reimagine the future of pre-K-12 learning in the post-pandemic world. 


This 3-week sprint launched on May 5, 2020 and closed on May 26, 2020 at 5pm PST.

Submit Ideas
Celebration Phase

The Ideas Phase has closed, but you can explore what the community shared here.

Celebration and synthesis coming soon! Stay tuned.

Let's Celebrate
The Challenge

How might we help educators, parents, and students adapt to remote learning while also using this moment to radically reimagine what we need our education systems to be?

Read The Full Brief

Idea Starters

Idea Starter 1: Remote Learning

How might we learn from the extraordinary creativity emerging from this mass experiment in remote learning? (limited to 1000 words)

Research shows that times of crisis often provoke periods of intense learning and experimentation. Without much warning, educators, families, and students were thrust into a mass experiment in learning from home. We suspect that when we look back on this time, we’ll see that it resulted in a number of innovations that forever change the way we do school.

  • What's your dream remote learning platform or app?
  • How can parents and teachers stay in communication to better meet students' needs?
  • How can we build meaningful non-computer-based activities into the remote school day?
  • What are ways students can be graded or show what they know?
  • How can teachers get prep and practice in remote teaching to help students thrive?
  • What can we do to meet students' social and emotional needs in this new context?
  • How do we build upon self-directed virtual learning when we return to school?

We’re inspired by Kristen Berbawy, Teacher in Fremont, CA.

When COVID-19 began impacting the world, Kristin wondered how she could help. She joined a collective effort with a maker space in Sunnyvale, CA called Maker Nexus, activating the maker community to produce personal protection equipment for healthcare organizations. “With school closed, I knew the 3D printers in my classroom would just be sitting and I wanted to help. I connected with someone at Maker Nexus and brought the equipment from my classroom to the space.” Kristin also enlisted a few of her students to join her with the volunteer effort. “There are a few of my students who were part of my Engineering class and former students who volunteered their time to help with printing equipment. It’s given them an opportunity to learn while helping, connect with others, and develop their technical and leadership skills. Most importantly, they feel empowered.” As of Monday morning, Maker Nexus has delivered over 15,000 face shields in the Bay Area and beyond.

Idea Starter 2: Equity

How might we ensure that our most vulnerable students and families are supported through school closures? (limited to 1000 words)

This moment is exposing the many inequities in our education systems—from the technology required for remote learning, to the support services needed to establish safety and wellbeing. For the millions of students who have special needs, are homeless, food insecure, or without health care, school is often their only safety net. Planning for a post-pandemic world starts by recognizing that some students are especially vulnerable when schools close. 

  • How are you providing equitable access to learning materials and devices?
  • How are you supporting students with specific learning needs remotely (students with disabilities, English learners, students in temporary housing)?
  • How are you making meals available to students who rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch?
  • How are you connecting families to other services they may need?
  • How are you helping students who are already behind from falling further behind?

We’re inspired by Austin Independent School District’s Wifi Buses

Austin Independent School District (ISD) has deployed 110 school buses now equipped with WiFi to neighborhoods and apartment complexes where the district identified the highest need for internet access. The district "strategically positions" the buses, which have WiFi capabilities up to a distance of 300 feet, every weekday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Idea Starter 3: Community

How might we ensure that students are still able to nurture relationships with their peers, develop their talents, and celebrate important milestones? (limited to 1000 words)

For most students school isn’t just about academics, it is also about social interactions. As we near the end of the school year, many students are feeling the loss of social connections and milestone events like sports tournaments, end-of-year performances and showcases, award assemblies, prom and graduation. 

  • How are you fostering collaborative group work and peer-to-peer learning?
  • How are you arranging one-on-one time between teachers and students?
  • Have you facilitated any virtual games/sports tournaments? Or Virtual ceremonies, such as prom and graduation?
  • Have you facilitated any remote advisories or virtual circles for students to build community with peers?

We’re inspired by Kirsten Dickerson, Teacher, Lakewood, OH

As the distance learning extends farther into the spring, Kirsten knows her students are missing the normal school routine. “I miss everything about face-to-face school, but I miss my students and our space the most.” She used Canva to design postcards to send to her students to let them know she’s thinking about them. “My favorite one says, ‘Wish you were here’ in French and features photos of our classroom. I've sent 25 so far and hope to reach every student in the next few weeks!” Kirsten was inspired by elementary school teachers on Instagram that she saw sending students letters and treats or doing birthday drive-by celebrations. “Teaching high school makes that a little harder, so I found my own way."

Idea Starter 4: Surprise Us!

What have we missed? (limited to 1000 words)

Inspire us with insights, examples and stories which go beyond our Idea Starters for this challenge.

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How to Participate in the Challenge

This is a global call to bring together parents, students, and teachers to share approaches that address the educational challenges we are facing amidst COVID-19. You can submit an idea or inspiration at any point during the Challenge by answering five questions. A few tips to keep in mind:

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect—you can also update or change your submission at any time during the process. 
  • Contribute what feels right to you—We know life’s busy and we encourage you to spend whatever amount of time works for you, whether that’s 10 minutes or multiple hours. Early stage thoughts and fully flushed out ideas are all help in the creative problem solving process. 
  • Participate from a place of kindness and empathy—We hope that this platform brings together unique voices and sparks useful conversations about education. We ask participants to share comments on the platform in a positive way in the form of encouragement, questions and resource sharing.  

How we’ll work to support you during the Challenge? We’ve brought together some of our favorite people and resources to kickstart the Challenge. We’ll be sharing these through: 

  • Community Coaches commenting on ideas on the platform
  • We'll be hosting a webinar at the end of the Challenge to celebrate this community
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Design Criteria

Use these design criteria to guide your submission:

High school students who have been adapting to school closures will reviewed submissions, based on their alignment to the Principles of Impact and Scalability developed by HundrED. They were looking to see if the submissions were:

  • Innovative: Is it fresh?
  • Relevant: Does it answer the call to reimagine learning?
  • Equitable: Does it make learning more equitable and inclusive for all?
  • Scalable: Will it work elsewhere?
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Meet Your Challenge Community Coaches

Throughout the Challenge, you will see Community Coaches engaging with your ideas. While they are not able to comment on every post or join every conversation—we do hope to spark discussion, reflection and action, and help our OpenIDEO community thrive.

Darry Strickland is a leader, coach and designer. As an educator he has worn several hats during his career:  Humanities teacher, high school administrator and school turnaround specialist. Currently, he facilitates creative problem workshops for principals, school teams and teachers that center student needs, deeper learning and equity.
Naman Mandhan is a designer, engineer, educator, and visual storyteller based in metro Detroit. His professional career within the automotive industry places him at the intersection of research, design, engineering, and strategy, to create experiences for the future of mobility. An advocate for inclusion and human-centered design, he is deeply passionate about building practices and frameworks for the propagation of equity within communities and organizations.
Peter Worth, as a learning experience designer, supports school leaders and other educators in creative problem solving and culture building toward meaningful, relevant learning for all students, including those furthest from opportunity. I’m intrigued by the intersection of enjoyment, measurable impact, and storytelling. Raised in California and based in Northern Ireland, I love the learning, inspiration, and perspective that comes from listening to and working with educators from around the world.

Tiffanie Harrison is an educator, an equity leader, community organizer, a consultant and an investor in radical equity. She loves co-creating systems with parents, students, educators and community members. She believes that we have the collective energy to heal the fractures of education and other systems that have been disrupted by COVID19 and the pre-existing inequities-by-design.
Paul Kim, during his teaching career, has taught everything from kindergarten to college, and he has received both teacher-of-the-year and coach-of-the-year honors. Recently, he started an idea incubator for juniors that emphasizes self-directed learning with a focus on research, entrepreneurship, design, and inquiry. In his free time, Paul enjoys getting out and about to explore cities across the country.
Naylee Nagda spends her time between Los Angeles and Nairobi and sometimes in-between. She’s passionate about using creative problem solving to design solutions that are human-centered. Her favorite part of life is immersing herself in foreign concepts and cultures, that allow her to continue learning.
Sarah T. Nethan is a designer through the week, a drummer through the weekend - Sarah is a Fashion Designer turned Social Design Researcher from India. Her work involves understanding human behavior and co-designing innovations at the confluence of local wisdom and science for improving health outcomes across disadvantaged communities of India.
Rachel Siegel is a licensed school counselor, previously working as Director of Counseling at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School and the American Cooperative School in La Paz, Bolivia. She's earned her Foundations in Design Thinking and Foundations in Creative Leadership certificates from IDEO U and has served as Program Manager for the Lakeland Chapter of The Teachers Guild x School Retool for the past two years. Leading with joy, Rachel loves creating warmups and experiences that build connections.
Anya Smith-Roman, Anya is a social-impact designer, magazine editor, gymnastics coach, and a student studying business and psychology at Georgia Tech to become a social entrepreneur in education. Since high school, she has been striving to forward the Education Transformation Movement by networking with thought leaders around the world, speaking and coaching at education conferences, and being a pioneer of innovative learner-centered education practices.
David Enders, David Enders is a recent high school graduate with a critical view of our education system. He is currently taking a gap year, and has spent most of his time traveling the world and experiencing different cultures, and looks forward to incorporating this experience in his upcoming college education and personal projects.

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Meet Our Challenge Partners

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), is home to a passionate community of global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education.

The Teachers Guild is a member-led community of teachers who are committed to becoming a creative force for our students, schools, and communities through our Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit, online platform, coaching program, local events, and partner network. These tools help teachers design better solutions for students’ evolving needs, creating systemic change for and from their classrooms.

School Retool is professional development fellowship that helps public school leaders redesign and transform school culture. The program is grounded in the notion that big change starts small, and by implementing small, scrappy experiments or “hacks,” one can effect large-scale transformation.

HundrED.Org is a not-for-profit organization, which seeks and shares inspiring innovations in K12 education. Our goal is to help improve education and inspire a movement by encouraging pedagogically sound, ambitious innovations to spread across the world.

TED-Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative. TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world. Everything we do supports learning — from producing a growing library of original animated videos, to providing an international platform for teachers to create their own interactive lessons, to helping curious students around the globe bring TED to their schools and gain presentation literacy skills, to celebrating innovative leadership within TED-Ed’s global network of over 250,000 teachers.

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Spread the Word

Know people or organizations reimagining learning? Help spread the word.

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View Selected Submissions
View Selected Submissions
Challenge Team:

Tracee Worley

Senior Design Lead

Becky Lee

Senior Business Development Lead

Molly McMahon

Senior Product Director

Alysha English

Senior Community Specialist

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