US Reporter

Innovative and Creative Alternative for Online Access of Education

Online Education – The coronavirus pandemic had stopped all the operations, including schools.  Still, lessons must go on but the classroom set-up is converted into an online base. 

To continue education amidst the pandemic, other schools had the initiative to send their sidelined buses into the community to share Wi-Fi access with low-income U.S. families during the coronavirus pandemic. This can create a problem for families that do not have at least one home computer and a strong internet connection. For them, the transition to a digital classroom may seem all but impossible.

This is termed a lack of “connectivity,” notes Richard Culatta, in Arlington, Va., the chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education. He also is the former director of technology for the U.S. Department of Education. According to Cullata, U.S. schools are aware of this problem, too. And some, he says, have been working hard and investing for fast connections to make sure home-connectivity problems don’t shut the door to online classes. 

Moreover, some schools have been taking stock of the computers available throughout their shuttered buildings. Then they’ve loaned them out to families in this time who needed it the most. Already, Culatta says, “There are a bunch of school districts that have used that approach.”

A non-profit group, PCs for People advocates quality online education and they fix used computers and installs them with Windows 10. Then it sells or donates them to low-income families. “Every desktop includes a mouse, a keyboard, power cords and monitor cords,” the group says. For an extra fee, people can get monitors and more, including software (such as Microsoft Office).

But a computer set without internet connection is another problem. Fortunately, Culatta says, “a whole coalition of internet providers have agreed to provide high-speed internet” to low-income households. These are families in which kids qualify for free or reduced-cost school-lunch programs. The firms, he says, “have agreed to provide [internet service] for less than $10 a month” — at least through the end of the school year. For the coming donations, the low-cost access is available to July. Such service otherwise might cost up to $100 a month, he notes. “So this is a big deal.” You can look for participating providers at EveryoneOn.

Also, other schools have adapted other initiatives to solve the problem. Several, he notes have bought devices known as portable Wi-Fi hotspots “These devices connect to the same networks that smartphones use. They then create a Wi-Fi signal that laptops, tablets and other computers can use to connect to the internet. Schools have “handed those [hotspots] out for kids to use to overcome some of those connectivity gaps,” Culatta notes.

Meanwhile, other schools have resorted to their sidelined school buses to be utilized as the medium of connection. In some communities, these buses have Wi-Fi. Culatta reports that some schools “have actually gone and parked their buses around different parts of the community.” Families that live nearby can then tap into the buses’ Wi-Fi connection so that they can have an access to online learning. 

Also, the school library plays an important role to disseminate online resources. An article published last March 16 on reports that although the Ohio libraries are closed, Cleveland-area “branches have maintained strong Wi-Fi signals so people could use their free internet outside the building.” Library spokeswoman Kelly Woodward is quoted as saying, “Our Wi-Fi is always on and open to the community. “

And true enough, these solutions won’t help everyone and it is limited. And some approaches can be effective or can give more complexities to the students. Still, the initiatives could help many students and engage in online learning as it should be. 

“Another things is are the families with limited knowledge about the technology, might therefore want to reach out to their schools or local internet providers to see what help might be available in their community during the COVID-19 crisis” , Culatta says