The goal of teachers building real, caring relationships with every student has never been more critical — and it has also never been more challenging. But as BARR Center executive director Angela Jerabek describes, we’ve learned much during the pandemic about how teachers can succeed.

Jerabek is the founder and executive director of BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks).

There was no shortage of stories about the tenuous state of schooling in this country as school districts began to reopen this fall.

Now that students are back in class — either in class or online —  we continue to hear about the challenges of making sure that each and every student’s needs are met when they are physically dispersed. Every district is tackling important decisions to ensure they are implementing the right plan for their community at any given point in time. Although students are back to school, there are many strategies requiring continuous roll-out to make sure students have what they need for a successful school year.

The hurdles of this past spring linger into the fall. School leaders are constantly reassessing models that work best for their district, knowing that swift changes may need to occur to contain the spread of the coronavirus in communities. Despite smoother transitions to online teaching, educators are still feeling upside down. The summer and first few weeks of school have provided teachers time to reflect on that experience and focus on how they can keep making improvements.  (more)

October 8 — More Americans rely on CNN as their primary information source about COVID-19 than other cable outlets, and Anderson Cooper is trusted by more Americans than other cable commentators, a study by the USC Center for the Digital Future (CDF) has found.

The CDF study also reports extreme differences in views about cable news channels and commentators based on political viewpoint of the respondents.

CNN’s popularity declines, but still leads as cable news source

The CDF study, conducted twice since the pandemic began (April and June), found CNN continues to be the primary source for pandemic news for the largest percentage of Americans – 40% in the June study, down from 49% in April. Fox news held steady with 33% reporting the network as the primary source about the pandemic, the same as in April. The popularity of MSNBC grew in the June study – now 24% of Americans, up from 14% in April.  (more)

The big tech companies have benefited from the pandemic, but can they continue to get even bigger or will their revenues fall back to Earth?   CDF director Jeff Cole explores the question.

October 7, 2020 — Most of us were unprepared in the middle of March to move our work, learning, buying, and almost everything else online within a day or two. But one sector had been preparing their entire existence for this kind of disruption: the tech companies.

The pandemic was their victory lap.

These companies—Amazon, Apple (since 2007), eBay, Netflix (after 2011), PayPal, Zoom, Google, Facebook, and others—were all founded on the belief that more and more of life would take place online. Their leadership, business models, technologies, and logistics were designed and ready for the transition to online living.

The companies vulnerable to disruption—brick and mortar stores, banks, movie theaters, and traditional work environments—were all in the tech companies’ collective sights long before any threat of a pandemic.

One of the most traditional companies, Disney, whose business needed fans to leave their homes for movie theaters, theme parks, and cruise ships, saw its one bright light during COVID come from Disney+—the stay-at-home, online streaming service it started in November of last year.

But when the pandemic came and everything that could not be done online closed, the tech companies seamlessly filled the vacuum. In the process, they found new customers, earned more business out of existing customers, and built great loyalty. There is strong evidence that the tech companies will solidify the gains made during COVID even when their competitors go back to business.  (more)

October 1, 2020 — In spite of the stress from COVID-19 and stay-at-home restrictions, many Americans continue to say the relationships with their spouses and children have improved during the pandemic, a study by the USC Center for the Digital Future (CDF) has found.

The CDF study, conducted twice since the pandemic began, found in its first survey in April that large percentages of Americans say that relationships at home are better since the pandemic began – and those percentages increased during the Center’s second study in June.  (more)

September 24, 2020 — After more than six months of living in a pandemic, large percentages of Americans continue to indulge in unhealthy lifestyle habits, including overeating, and increased use of alcohol and marijuana – all while many are exercising less, according to a study of the cultural impact of COVID-19 conducted by the USC Center for the Digital Future (CDF).

The CDF study, conducted twice since the pandemic began, found in its first project in April that indulging had increased while exercising declined; the behavior persisted into the Center’s second study in June.  (more)

In the early days of Coronavirus starting last March, Zoom helped students and colleagues extend working relationships as we moved our lives online. But as September brings new classes and new jobs, is Zoom up to the task? Center director Jeffrey Cole explores the challenges.

September 23, 2020 — As March began, few people had ever heard of Zoom, and many had never been part of a video conference. Six months later Zoom has become a verb, and Zooming has become a part of daily life.

The moment Zoom became a verb

There are only a few examples of corporate names becoming a part of our daily idiom and a verb in such a short period of time. That honor comes not necessarily to the first or best mover in a new technology (there have been other video conference tools for a while like Skype, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams) but to the innovator that first rises to wide public consciousness.

Other examples that come to mind are Xerox, Uber, and–most verby–Google. Only one of these dates back more than 20 years.

In the 1970s, as Xerox became the most widely known copier company, we didn’t make copies on the office photocopier, we Xeroxed things on whatever machine it happened to be (Canon, Kodak, Minolta).

About a decade ago we started Ubering home regardless of whether we used that company or Lyft. And, we don’t look up someone we just met on a search engine, we Google them. In an alternate universe, we might be “Bing-ing,” “Yahooing,” or even Jeevesing.

Now, in the fall of 2020 we are Zooming regardless of what system we actually use. Invitations begin with “Let’s Zoom.” Just the mention of Zoom can bring forth excitement at the prospect of seeing and interacting with friends and colleagues on important (or trivial) issues as we are isolated at home. On the other hand, Zoom fatigue is real: the same mention also can also unleash frustration at the constant barrage of Zoom sessions, sometimes for entire work days with no end in sight.  (more)

September 16, 2020 — Six months into the most severe global pandemic in more than a century, are Americans complying with basic precautions to avoid infection and spread of the coronavirus? And will they be vaccinated when a proven treatment for COVID-19 is released?

For many Americans, the answers are no.

A study of the social impact of COVID-19 by the Center for the Digital Future found that while large numbers of Americans do indeed use recommended precautions against infection and spread of the disease, alarmingly high percentages do not participate in these safety programs, and one-fifth will refuse to receive a vaccine.

Do you wear a mask and participate in social distancing?

The Center’s study found many people – but not everyone – take precautions to avoid infection with the coronavirus.

Eighty-three percent of Americans said they participate in social distancing. However, only 77% say they wear a mask.  (more)

September 9, 2020 — A growing number of college students like their online instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many want reduced tuition if their education is online and not in person, reported the second study on the social and cultural impact of the coronavirus conducted by the USC Center for the Digital Future.

The Center’s study found an increase in college students who reported satisfaction with their instruction on the internet: 43% of college students say they enjoy remote learning better than in-class instruction — up from 34% in the Center’s first study in April. While a majority of college students in the current study (52%) say they prefer in-person classroom learning, that number was down from 63% in April.

Fewer students say their teachers are good at adapting their courses for online instruction — now 46%, down from 51% in April. A slightly smaller percentage say they learn less online than in person – 52% in the current study, down marginally from 54% in April.

How do students feel about the online learning environment? A majority of college students in the current study (54%) say they have to work harder when learning online, down slightly from 56% in April. Although a large percentage of college students say their online instruction makes them feel more isolated from their learning community (55%), that number was down from 61% reported in April.  (more)

September 2, 2020 — Increased levels of loneliness and anxiety reported early in the COVID-19 pandemic have declined in recent months, but about one-third of Americans say they are more depressed since the pandemic began, according to a study by the USC Center for the Digital Future.

The second study of the social and cultural impact of the coronavirus conducted by the Center also found two-thirds of Americans who reported increased anxiety are concerned about the future of the world – higher percentages than those who reported being anxious about their own health, politics, their jobs, or safety.

Anxiety and loneliness drop

The study reported 32% of Americans say they are feeling more lonely since the beginning of the pandemic, down from 37% reported in April. Forty-nine percent say they are feeling more anxious, down from 62% reported in April.

However, more than one-third say they are more depressed: 35% of Americans say they are somewhat or much more depressed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Nearly twice as many women (11%) compared to men (6%) say they are much more depressed since the pandemic began.  (more)

August 26, 2020 — Almost all Americans want to change their work life when the COVID-19 pandemic ends, with large percentages ready to shift to a permanent home office, according to a study by the USC Center for the Digital Future.

The study found that working from home during the pandemic has created unique opportunities as well as unprecedented challenges for millions of Americans, including reduced visits to an office, increased working from home, or not going to a traditional office at all.

The study found:

Many Americans want to change their careers and work from home – More than 40 percent (42 percent) want work from home to be permanent, while 25% disagree.

More than one-quarter could adapt all of their job to working from home — For many, working from home could be a permanent reality; 26% could adapt all of their job to work from home; 22% most of their work, 17% some, 9% a little, 26% none.

Work after the pandemic — More than one-third of employees anticipate they will work more from home when the pandemic is over (38% would work more from home, 43% the same, 18% less).  (more)

August 19, 2020 — In spite of efforts to re-open the nation’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans are not comfortable resuming daily life outside the home, and one-quarter say they will do nothing in public until a vaccine is available, reports a study by the USC Center for the Digital Future.

Low percentages of Americans are ready for return to public activities

The study found that other than grocery shopping, most people are uncomfortable doing anything outside their homes right now. For example, only 41% are willing to see a doctor for a non-urgent appointment, and 39% would shop in retail store.

Even fewer said they would dine in a restaurant (25%), stay in a hotel (19%), use public transportation (14%), go to a movie or play (11%), travel by plane or train (11%), or go to a live sports event or concert (8%).

One-quarter will wait for a vaccine to do anything in public.  (more)

August 12 — A majority of Americans say national elections need to change because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including broad support for voting by mail and online political conventions, reports a new study by the USC Center for the Digital Future.

The study also found major differences in views among liberals and conservatives about the American political process.

The findings on proposed changes in the political process were produced in the second study in the Center’s comprehensive project on the social impact of the coronavirus, conducted during the fourth week of June.

Americans want changes in voting methods and political conventions

The study found 16% of Americans say conventions should be held “as usual.” A majority of Americans believe the national political conventions should change: 51 percent say the conventions should either be held completely online (44%) or not at all (7%).

Statistically identical percentages of Americans support voting by mail (65%) and traditional polling places (64%). Forty-four percent want voting online.

“Americans overall make no distinction between voting in person in a polling booth or voting by mail,” said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the USC Center for the Digital Future. “But based on political affiliation, we found dramatic differences in views about who should vote, and where they should vote.”  (more)

Study finds reliance on Trump drops; public support of government response to the coronavirus declines

August 5, 2020 — A growing number of Americans say federal, state, and local governments are doing a poor job of responding to COVID-19, and Anthony Fauci continues to be the nation’s most relied-upon source about the coronavirus, reports a new study by the USC Center for the Digital Future.

Fauci still #1 source for pandemic information; Trump slumps

The Center’s second survey of the social impact of the coronavirus, conducted during the fourth week of June as follow-up to an initial study in April, found more Americans (44%) rely on Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, than any other individual for information about the pandemic.

After Fauci, individuals rely on New York governor Andrew Cuomo (19%), CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta or the respondent’s own mayor (16%), and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx (15%).

The June survey found President Donald Trump is relied on by 12% of Americans for pandemic information, down from 20% in the Center’s survey in April. In the June survey, 29% of conservatives and 2% of liberals said they rely on Trump. The largest level of reliance on Trump was 40% of those who identify themselves as very conservative.  (more)

The coronavirus pandemic has produced unprecedented disruption of our generation, but it could have been So. Much. Worse. Jeffrey Cole explores what our pandemic experience would have been if — like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” — the internet had never been born.

The internet won!

In the middle of March, with little warning or preparation, we moved our lives online.

What couldn’t be transferred online simply stopped. Movie theaters, concert halls, and theme parks closed. Baseball and basketball suspended their seasons, and it is still not clear if they will resume, or if the football and hockey seasons will ever start.

Almost all dining in restaurants stopped, and many people were hesitant to eat even at outside tables at the small number that stayed opened. Travel came to a standstill with airlines barely operating and hotels facing little occupancy. Cruise ships will not see passengers for a very long time.

If it couldn’t happen on the internet, it didn’t happen. If it could, it did.  (more)

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated many trends that already existed, teaching us to stream more and forcing us to reconsider how much we need offices or stores. But as Center director Jeffrey Cole describes, one environment that has resisted evolutionary pressure, though, is college.

This column focuses on how the coronavirus pandemic and the move to learning online has affected the lives of traditional college students under the age of 25 who live on or near campus. A later column will look at less traditional students who may be older, attending part-time or working full-time and may not live near campus.

It’s the middle of June: all across America families are celebrating high school and college graduations. This year it’s very different. Graduates of the class of 2020 will be forever remembered as the Covid Grads, finishing school during the pandemic.

In 2020, there were no proms, grad nights or graduation ceremonies. Some graduated on Zoom—celebrating virtually with their classmates—while others stood in the street in front of their homes while friends and families drove by honking from a safe distance.

Most college students living away, whether they were seniors or not, finished the last months of the school year by packing up their belongings and moving back in with Mom and Dad.

As bad as it was for those finishing the school year, it will be even worse for the high school grads starting their first year of college in the fall. Forget summer travel before starting college. Forget freshman orientation as they get introduced to their living arrangements on a new campus.

The only travel in their future will be to their parents’ basement, where they will not need an orientation. All of the experiences of moving to college, making friends and meeting roommates, regulating their own hours and behaviors, and sitting in a classroom soaking up knowledge may have to be deferred for a semester or more.  (more)

How much of our lives can we squeeze through Zoom and other videoconference services? A recent funeral marked out a boundary.

By Brad Berens

When a family member dies, the script is clear: you scramble the jets, cancel your appointments, lean on a friend to watch the dog, and get there. For me, that means getting to Los Angeles from Portland.

My aunt, Marlene Meyer, my mother’s sister, died on May 15th. She was 86, vibrant, still working as an insurance agent days before her death, not ready to die. Our family wasn’t ready either. We do not know if she had contracted Coronavirus — a maddening ambiguity — but we do know that Coronavirus changed her decline, death, and funeral.

I’ve lived in Oregon since 2009, always aware that the biggest challenge of being far from where I grew up and where my first family still lives would be moments like these.

The script is clear, but Coronavirus changed the script.  (more)

May 21, 2020 — While many Americans agree that the coronavirus is changing life at home on an unprecedented scale, men and women report significant differences in their views and behavior, according to the first comprehensive study of the social and cultural impact of the pandemic conducted by the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

“We are seeing many differences between how men and women are experiencing life during the pandemic – especially in their levels of concern about the effects of the coronavirus, what they miss, and what they enjoy,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future.

The overall findings released April 29 in the Center’s study, “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” revealed many changes in views and behavior – both positive and negative – reported by Americans since the pandemic and safer-at-home restrictions began.  (For an overview of key issues found in the study, go here.)

Looking more closely at the study’s findings about life at home reveals some sharp differences between men and women and how they are experiencing the pandemic.  (more)

(For comprehensive material about the Coronavirus Disruption Project Study — reports, PDFs, and releases — go here.)

Going to work: a commute of ten miles or ten feet?

Data from the Center’s new Coronavirus Disruption Project suggests that many Americans will never go back to daily commutes to work in offices, and as Center director Jeffrey Cole explains, that’s not a bad thing, either.

The phrase “going to work” has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Two months ago, most of us had never heard of Zoom. Now, for those who are working at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, Zoom is a way of life.

Zoom has moved into a rarefied atmosphere of the tiny list of companies whose brands that have become verbs: Google, Xerox, Uber. The invitation is not, “do you want to join me in a Zoom Meeting,” but rather, “let’s Zoom.”

The latest unemployment figures, the highest since the Great Depression, show that about 15% of Americans are unemployed. Other than essential workers (health care, delivery, police, supermarkets), the rest have moved much (if not all) of our jobs online. We made this move in a matter of days without preparation. Many of us did it without any prior experience doing our jobs online.

Data from the Center’s new study with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” shows that moving our work lives online has been a success — particularly compared to other activities we have been compelled to move online, such as school work.  (more)

April 29, 2020 – Americans coping with the coronavirus are reporting changes in their lives occurring in days that previously took months or years, a wide-ranging study of life during the pandemic conducted by the USC Center for the Digital Future and the Interactive Advertising Bureau has found.

The study shows Americans report many concerns about their lives as well as increased loneliness and anxiety since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, but they also describe strengthened relationships and enjoying the benefits of working at home.

Titled “The Coronavirus Disruption Project: How We are Living and Coping During the Pandemic,” the study also found significant percentages of Americans who had never previously banked online or bought from internet sources have now been pushed into the online experience because of the pandemic.

“We are exploring the biggest disruption of our lives,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future in the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Daily life is far more disrupted by the pandemic than after 9/11 or the beginning of World War II, and anxiety is at levels only seen after Pearl Harbor and the Great Depression.

“Yet in spite of the upheaval,” Cole said, “we also found that Americans have positive views about their relationships and hope for how their lives will proceed after the pandemic ends.”  (more)

From the Center’s Future of  Health Care Study.

Infographic by Kelsey Dempsey.

See all of the Center’s infographics here

How quickly should one reply to a personal message received online? What is the appropriate length of time? And has the perceived appropriate length changed over the years?

We have asked this question in our Digital Future Survey since 2012… (more)

The Center has published the tenth edition of World Internet Project report, the collaboration between the Center for the Digital Future and partner organizations in countries worldwide.

The 47-page study explores views and behavior about internet use and non-use, devices for internet access, years online, user proficiency, reasons for not going online, politics and the internet, freedom of expression online, media reliability, online security and personal privacy, and activities on the internet.

Download the tenth World Internet Project Report here.

The Center’s new 147-page “Surveying the Digital Future” report includes more than 100 issues that explore the impact of digital technology on American users and non-users.

New subjects in the study include views about using body-implanted chips for increased security, fake news, mainstream media, and regulation of social media.

Download the report here.

Nearly 60 percent of American banking customers would consider moving their money to accounts offered by familiar companies, such as online retailers, search engines, or big-box stores, even though they have no experience with financial services, according to a new study on the future of money and banking by the Center.

“We strongly believe banking is the next industry to be completely disrupted by digital change,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the center. “Our research shows customers are far ahead of the banks in looking to the web and apps as their preferred banking methods. Download the Future of Money and Banking Report here.

Center director Jeffrey Cole explores transformation of the media for the keynote address at the leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

View the video here.