A research study by Common Sense Media, a California-based advocacy group that promotes digital access for children, shows that 29 percent of Ohio children, 34 percent of Indiana children, and 36 percent of Kentucky children don’t have adequate internet connection. Many area schools had already started to prepare for this digital divide when the pandemic hit, but the inequity was underscored by the rollout of virtual learning.
Here are a few ways area schools anticipate technology to influence the future.
INCREASED TEACHER ACCESSIBILITY
“Some students are limited by their morning transportation and can’t get here before school or after school to work with teachers,” says Purcell Marian High School math teacher Kyle Nobbe. “We’ve had many staff members at our school open up in the evening. Virtual study sessions have been accessible for tutoring whenever students need to because we now can use Google or Zoom.” Nobbe recognizes that, in this new world, sustainability can be a concern for teachers who manage large numbers of students, but for Purcell Marian he says it’s doable as a smaller school. “The teachers I spoke with were eager to set up time to meet with students.”
ONLINE CONTENT 24/7
With Zoom and Google Meet becoming the norm for students, parents, and teachers, the future could include more virtual options if a student misses a day or two of school. “We haven’t quite worked out the concept of snow days just yet,” says St. Bernard-Elmwood Place City Schools Superintendent Mimi Webb. “But I do believe in the future we’ll be seeing school activities or school lessons posted on a teacher’s Google classrooms for students to work on if we should have a snow day or weather-related day.”
MORE COMPUTER AND TABLET LEARNING
Both Beechwood Independent Schools and St. Bernard-Elmwood Place City Schools are one-to-one school districts, offering each student Chromebooks. Beechwood Superintendent Mike Stacy says his schools were also able to purchase internet hotspots for children who didn’t have good WiFi. ”Many places I’ve worked in the past would not have been able to make that shift as quickly as we did,” he says. “There is an advantage to being small and having already laid the groundwork as a one-to-one system prior to the pandemic.”