Digital fragmentation makes it difficult for schools to adapt to viral strains


When April Schneider’s children returned to private classes this year, they thought they were leaving behind the pain of a one-year long-distance study. No more problems with borrowed pills. There are no missed days because her children cannot keep up with their formal education.

But cases of coronavirus in her children’s New York City classrooms, as well as private homes, sent her children home to study. Without any children’s weapons, Schneider said they were left to do nothing when they were at home.

“So you come back, you don’t have a computer, and you come back as if COVID has just started a little bit,” Schneider said.

As more and more families return to distance education within the living space and closure of schools, access to reliable, reliable equipment and home internet remains a challenge for many students who want them to continue their schooling. Home internet student opportunities have improved since the epidemic began with the help of charity, government grants and other efforts – but the obstacles continue, including the lack of weapons, slower pace and economic hardship.

Concerns about digital segregation have shifted to families who are “offline” and able to access the internet more frequently, says Vikki Katz, a communications professor at Rutgers University.

“It’s about whether you can tolerate or disrupt these fast pivots in ways that don’t hinder your learning,” he said.

In two studies, conducted in 2015 and one in 2021, Katz and other researchers looked at low-income families with young children. Although the cost of home internet and computer ownership has skyrocketed, the proportion of low-income households whose internet is unreliable or inadequate remains the same.

Last year the epidemic, more than half of Katz’s families surveyed said their children’s ability to listen in online classes was hampered in some way.

Racial and financial segregation continue to dominate the home internet, according to a Pew Research Center survey. One research a survey conducted in April 2020 found that during the closure of elementary schools, 59% of low-income households faced computer barriers, such as access to a mobile phone, lack of access to a device or internet access because their homes were. not reliable enough.

About 34% of households make less than $ 30,000 reports having a problem paying off a home mortgage loan, as well as 25% of those making between $ 30,000 and $ 50,000. Compared to white families, Black and Latino families were less having access to Broadband and home computers.

For Schneider’s children, not having enough homework equipment in the past year of distance education meant unemployment and classrooms. The children struggled to focus on their job, even when they received paperwork. During his solitary confinement this year, he said, he could not have participated in any of the consultations.

“Without weapons … his experience was that he was inferior,” Schneider said. “As soon as they said school was back … I just took my chance and sent them. They never had to leave school again.”

Even before the epidemic sent more schools to remote schools, the classes received a more professional role in teaching, creating a “homework opportunity” for those who do and those who do not have internet and home appliances. An estimated 2.9 million students live in households without access to the Internet, according to a Census epidemic survey, and about 2.1 million students live in homes without a laptop or computer.

Some families have been disappointed with so much that did not happen to close the gap.

When a school for her grandchildren in Pittsburgh moved to an online course in March 2020, Janice Myers and her four grandchildren shared one laptop. One month later, she was struggling to pay off her mortgage online. He tried to raise $ 10 a month for the company to make it easier for children with low incomes to connect during the epidemic, but said he was told he should not because he was a customer.

This school year, the children are progressing well to personal study until the residents send them home for a week, Myers said. Near Thanksgiving, the school also closed private classes, this time for about three weeks. Usually, the school did not send the children home with pills, leaving them with little instruction except a small sheet of paper, he said.

“In my opinion, you had a whole school year to learn how to prepare well, and to be busy and to include plan B at the cost of a hat,” he said. “There was no reason why any student, when he returned to school, did not receive or keep their laptop.”

In the states that use their state-of-the-art funding to support internet access at home is the Chula Vista Elementary School District of California, which includes the cost of public space and other internet services in the next three years budget. It prioritizes Internet sites for children with serious school-related problems, such as children raised by adolescents who are experiencing homelessness.

Assistant Superintendent Matthew Tessier said the district has found that many low-income families have access to the internet via a wireless phone, but face limitations like data caps and set minutes per month. These hats often made connecting children to homework and online tools difficult even before the epidemic.

Identifying which children are most needed and having the tools ready can help reduce the disruption of education, Katz said.

“All the conversations we have about losing a child, whether to use the term or not, place a responsibility and responsibility on what children learn from students and the family … rather than realizing that this is still the responsibility of the school. to bridge this gap when sending children home, ”said Katz.



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