Building on What We Learned Last Year, Part I

If the technology platform for society can now turn over in five to seven years, but it takes ten to fifteen years to adapt to it … we will all feel out of control, because we can’t adapt to the world as fast as it is changing.  By the time we get used to the change, that won’t even be the prevailing change anymore—we will be onto some new change. — Thomas Friedman

Just after the first publication and launch of ¡Andamio!, myriad changes specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in our schools, sending many of us home for the rest of the school year. The decision to move face-to-face K-12 learning to online and distance learning emerged within a 24-hour timeframe, and educators scrambled to transition to distance learning and online teaching within a mere few days. The sheer whiplash of this rapid change to home-based learning brought to light unintended issues for communities of teachers and parents, including a new set of school-to-home barriers.

According to Common Sense Media, in 2020, approximately 15 to 16 million K-12 students were living in homes with no Internet connection. The pandemic amped up already-existing barriers, rendering them more serious. Key issues included increased food insecurity for children learning at home due to reliance on meals at school; the lack of community sharing and shelter that schools normally provide; an increase in homeless children and families; the lack of supervision at home while one or both parents are working; parents who are unable or unwilling to “sign on” to daily teacher lessons. Consider having no access to electricity or Internet connection, and the outcome looks pretty grim.

The sheer whiplash of this rapid change to home-based learning brought to light unintended issues for communities of teachers and parents, including a new set of school-to-home barriers.

And as if these challenges aren’t enough, for the families who do have Internet connection and electricity, another challenge emerges for parents: owning a device that can handle up-to-date software programs and knowing how to use both the software and the device. In the absence of these two factors, these are the homes that will have children with the greatest learning loss.

While it is very difficult to change some of these barriers, there are positive measures we can take to support these families to help advance their children’s online and distance learning.

In our next blog, we offer practical tips and suggestions to mitigate some of these challenges and how to develop your online parent training strategies. Go here.


Featued image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay