Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in California were forced to shut their doors to students and staff during spring semester 2020. The school closures forced teachers to migrate their lessons to online platforms and forced students to learn using various online modalities. Students no longer had the traditional access to their teachers, administrators, or peers, which caused an imbalance in their social learning. This phenomenological qualitative study offers administrators and teachers best practices in fostering student social learning while utilizing distance learning or online learning specifically for K-12 students. The best practices are derived from the lived experiences of a group of students and teachers from one specific charter high school in Orange County, California. The lived experiences describe how technology mediated the social learning of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning. The data in this study were captured by utilizing semi structured interviews. The research participants consisted of nine students and teachers who attended or worked at the specific site during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. The findings showed that technology mediated the social connections of students and teachers during the distance learning period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, at the time, technology did not adequately meet the learning needs of the students. This study provides teachers, administrators, policymakers, and students with practical implications based on the findings from the research.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Web-based instruction; Social learning--Education, Secondary; Social learning--Education, Primary; Teachers--United States; COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Paul Sparks