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How Is Distance Learning Going?

How Is Distance Learning Going?

Virtual Schools Face (and Are Rising Up to) Enormous Challenges

Now that the schools are reopening for in-person and distance learning, or a hybrid of both, what challenges are the school districts and the parents facing? On the brighter side, what’s working well?

Schools Facing Tech Issues, Cyberattacks, and Outages

School districts who opted or were forced to start the new academic year remotely are already reporting several issues. Technical problems, system outages, cyberattacks, and other issues have all disrupted the start of the school year.

During the second week of September, various media outlets reported a few prominent examples of the kinds of headaches school districts in several states are facing:

Videoconferencing Platform Overload

The unprecedented burden on videoconferencing — and the infamous Zoom crashes in particular — deserve a separate mention. The most recent crash of this popular videoconferencing software happened in August, when some schools were already reopening for distance learning. Users couldn’t access Zoom meetings and webinars. The issue has been resolved since (you can check out the operation status of Zoom’s features here).

What’s Causing the Problems?

It’s not that all 13,000 school districts across the country aren’t trying. Education experts most frequently cite a lack of preparation and expertise for online learning. Those are the symptoms of a larger problem — lack of official guidance from the top, on both state and federal levels. It’s largely up to school districts to secure contracts, find the platforms to use, train the educators, and perform a myriad of other tasks associated with online learning. The lack of coordination, communication, and insight into best practices has some schools struggling to come up with their own plans.

What Works?

Education leaders mostly agree that technical difficulties should be viewed in light of the pandemic. That is, they result from the unprecedented scale and volume schools faced while implementing three types of learning (online, in-person, hybrid). Within months, schools had to learn from their experiences from last spring and streamline processes for the fall.

In order to prepare for the fall, schools had to:

  • develop virtual learning systems supported by multiple platforms
  • build and maintain the infrastructure to back up platforms
  • train faculty and staff
  • find technological resources and offer tech support to both parents and students

And, as difficult as it was — and continues to be — many schools are rising to the challenge.

Virtual Learning Can Be a Time and Money Saver

Online learning is not without benefits. Apart from the health benefits of limiting the spread of COVID-19, virtual learning can encourage students to focus on their learning, with fewer distractions. It can also help minimize negative influences like exposure to drugs and bullying (though cyberbullying is of course alive and well). Virtual learning eliminates the need to travel the physical distance to and from the school, saving time and money. Families may also pay less for school supplies, lunches, and uniforms.

CyberReef’s Commitment to Eliminating the Digital Divide

On the other hand, lack of technology, lack of internet access, and a poor broadband connection can all lead to widening the digital divide dictated by race and income. This could lead to absenteeism and falling behind.

CyberReef cares about the health of our local communities. We are offering Kids Internet Defense Shield (KIDS), a cellular modem that provides Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) filtering. KIDS allows students to freely and securely access the Internet for their instructional needs. KIDS can be applied to any existing carrier and doesn’t require the installation of any devices or apps. It’s built on a private network (PN), making data more secure off the public domain.

We’re offering KIDS for free to impacted K-12 school districts for six months. The sign-up deadline is September 30, 2020. Please visit our Free CIPA Offer page for more details.

For more information on how you can make remote learning for your organization more secure, contact or call (318) 497-7230.