Two of the biggest hurdles to moving America’s schools online have been an inadequate number of digital devices for students and millions of families’ lack of high-speed internet at home.1
Without access to the right devices, or internet access altogether, some students may not be able to fully participate in their school’s education program. Districts are working through how to keep students connected for distance learning initiatives.
Consider the following essential solutions for keeping classrooms consistently connected and students learning.
Remote learning has exploded in growth. And solutions are continuing to transform as districts grapple with ever-changing environments ranging from remote to hybrid to in-person learning solutions.
This makes it even more important to have technology that is familiar and easy to use, such as laptops, tablets and mobile hotspots. This removes a barrier for students who are already struggling with new challenges, making them more likely to participate enthusiastically in their remote learning activities.
Every school district is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. For example, is your district in a rural area? Do your students require help with internet access and devices in order to fully connect their education experience? Teachers and students must be able to connect seamlessly so they can focus on lessons instead of troubleshooting a dropped connection or missing a class because they had to drive to a coffee shop to use the free Wi-Fi.
Mobile hotspots are ready to go right out of the box. You simply plug them in and log on. They also enable multiple students under the same roof to connect. Students can access their curriculum from home and stay connected to their classroom.
Cellular tablets are simple to use and connect via a cellular network, so they don’t rely on Wi-Fi for access. If students in your district lack internet access and devices, this solution solves both of those challenges. Students who do not have a computer at home can greatly benefit from the distribution of these devices, which provide the technology and internet connection required for remote learning.
Underconnected students — those with limited or no internet access at home — may have difficulty doing homework, putting them at risk of falling behind better-connected peers, a condition known as the 'homework gap'.²
Remote learning can be frustrating, given the interruptions and distractions of being in a home environment. But it’s much worse when you also have to deal with the interruptions of a poor internet connection. Choosing the right network provider as a partner makes all the difference. And having a network that offers reliable connections in rural areas as well as cities is critical to providing equal access for all students and staff.
Maintaining the sense of a one-on-one connection between teachers and students is an important element of a successful remote learning program. In a classroom, there are countless touchpoints throughout the day when students and teachers need to connect, such as reaching out for help, turning in an assignment or chatting about a project. These needs become even more essential in a remote learning situation, as parents don’t always know the answers, and kids can suffer from lack of immediate contact with teachers.
Whatever your remote learning solution, it must be supported by reliable connectivity. Without a reliable network, it’s difficult to create a high-quality and consistent learning experience. Choosing a trusted, nationwide network is vital to a successful distance learning program.
Nearly 18% of school-age children don’t have home internet access.³
Every school district has unique needs: large vs. small; rural vs. urban; different budget considerations; and compliance requirements, like the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
That is why choosing a provider that offers a local support system is crucial. People who live and are invested in your community have local knowledge and may even have their own children attending school in the district. A local expert can react quickly to requests or last-minute changes and can provide options that make sense for your student body and your specific technical and budgetary situation.
A local expert from a network provider can be invaluable when it comes to navigating remote learning solutions. They can quickly offer technology options based on your communication needs and assist you in understanding and utilizing the latest wireless technology for schools. And since they’re already providing wireless connectivity in the community, they’re better situated to assist with building on current solutions or working with you to set them up.
When a network expert is locally based, you know they’ll be there to continue helping even after installation. This brings the kind of confidence every school district needs as they build on their remote learning infrastructure.
The growth of remote learning programs has forced every community to adapt to the best of its abilities. Keeping our students connected is the bottom line and having access to the internet is the foundation for it.
What are the next steps for your district?
Having support from a partner that is part of the community, understands your technology needs, and is vested in the success of your area’s educational programs is vital. And with the development of 5G, higher speeds and broader coverage provide even greater opportunities for educational development. Having access to a local expert can help your district stay on top of these evolutions as they occur.
UScellular has extensive experience supporting schools and offers remote learning solutions powered by a nationwide, fast and reliable network. Our team of local Business Solutions Experts is working in your community already and can help you successfully support your distance learning programs and other communication technology.
For more information on remote learning solutions, call 866-616-5587 or visit uscellular.com/business/remotelearning