Facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources
For all the talk of online learning during shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, many U.S. public school students will find that the work they do while at home is actually optional. It won’t be graded and it won’t count. Some public schools are calling online work “enrichment,” not part of the curriculum, because they can’t guarantee that all students will have access to it. Students without the internet or home computers can’t do it, and special-needs students may require accommodations to complete it. As a result, millions of schoolchildren risk missing weeks of school.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Jon Tester (D-MT) urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to take action to ensure that students have access to internet so that they can continue learning while schools are closed and to create a consumer-friendly web portal with additional school resources in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
One instruction remains consistent and clear during the coronavirus pandemic: Stay home. For many of us, that means taking our daily activities — work, school, medical care and connecting with loved ones — online. But not for everyone.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has been working with Congress on ways to use government subsidy money for in-home devices by teachers, students and patients. The FCC is trying to subsidize distance learning and telemedicine tech during the coronavirus crisis, but is not authorized to do so.
The School District of Philadelphia will not allow teachers to do “remote instruction” with students while schools are closed during the coronavirus outbreak. Because the district cannot ensure equal access to technology among students, it’s barring individual schools from providing graded virtual instruction. Superintendent William Hite said teachers cannot require students to do work remotely or grade them on that work.
With the COVID-19 outbreak in full swing in the US, schools and businesses across the country are closing down, employees are being asked to rely on their broadband connections to work remotely and school-aged children are attending "school" remotely via the internet. But for large numbers of Americans, broadband connectivity simply isn't available
With a disproportionate number of school-age children lacking home broadband access, the breadth of the US digital divide has been revealed as schools struggle to substitute in-school resources with online instruction, electronic libraries, streaming videos, and other online tutorials. In the US, there are approximately 480,000 school buses that transport about 25 million students on a weekly basis to school and back. With newly installed Wi-Fi hotspots, these buses can maintain the integrity of current social distancing.
The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition asked the Federal Communications Commission to expedite affordable broadband solutions for unconnected Americans. The novel coronavirus is driving schools to online learning and increasing healthcare providers’ reliance on telehealth solutions.
The Federal Communications Commission should use its power in this emergency to provide schools with Wi-Fi hotspots to loan out to students who lack reliable internet access at home. It has the authority to do so under the Telecommunications Act. This law, now more than two decades old, directed the agency to set up a program to support internet service in schools across the country, through a program known as E-Rate. Today, E-Rate funds broadband for educational purposes in every state.
Just as our public health system appears unable to cope with the spread of the coronavirus, our residential broadband, video conferencing platforms and VPNs are about to face unprecedented strain. That strain will have serious consequences, not just for the performance of our broadband networks but also for student access to education and the security of corporate data and networks. The performance issues might be worse in rural areas, where internet service is already less reliable than it is in big cities.