K-12 in a Time of Pandemic: A Changing Culture
Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, most schools were either on or going on spring break and considering “what if…?” scenarios. When schools were forced to close for the rest of the school year, the question became: “what now?”
That every school answers that question differently is no surprise. After all, the business of education differs from school to school, district to district, and state to state. The curricula are different, educational apps are different, security and networking protocols are different, and one-to-one and collaboration initiatives are different. Everything is different.
These differences made sending kids home, in a consistent way, a challenge—though not necessarily a technology challenge.
Distance learning is about more than technology
In truth, distance learning isn’t really a technology issue. We have the technology to ably support distance and online learning, no problem.
From the perspective of parents, who are juggling the “newness” of work from home with the “newness” of their at-home, distance-learning kids—especially younger ones—keeping them engaged and on task is a challenge. From teachers’ perspectives, many are struggling to stay relevant in a digital age when traditional tools and traditional roles are quickly changing.
From students’ perspectives, not everyone has access to technology. Even if they do have access, the devices they use and how they connect are all over the board. For example:
- Many students have smartphones, but not all do.
- Many students had access to Chromebooks/mobile devices in school, but they were only available for a specific class or within a specific classroom.
- Some students have access to a computer at home, but it is likely a shared device.
- Some 73 percent of U.S. adults have high-speed broadband service at home, according to Pew Research, but “racial minorities, older adults, rural residents, and those with lower levels of education and income are less likely to have broadband service at home.” Even if given a device to take home, kids in these homes couldn’t connect.
Finally, IT teams shifted from an internally focused “safe harbor” to an externally driven “rocky sea.” Connectivity had to be extended, a vast array of devices secured, and numerous applications supported—all “out in the wild.” Now.
There was really only one answer, of course, and that was to go to the cloud. In the cloud, devices become inconsequential. Apps can be accessed from anywhere and with any device, so long as you have the right credentials. Read more about using the cloud to scale remote learners.
(A side benefit: K-12 IT teams now have time to do infrastructure projects with E-Rate and other funding that were previously put off due to time. Our services teams have been busy helping our K-12 and higher ed clients with refreshes, server upgrades, cabling runs, new access points, connectivity within and between buildings, and more. In fact, the FCC has extended deadlines for E-Rate due to the pandemic. Read more here.)
Logicalis: Your partner in education
Logicalis can help you securely bridge the gap so that students can effectively use distance and online learning—both now during the shutdown and as your educational needs change in the future as a result.
Our highly certified and skilled education advocates take the time to understand your school or district, your challenges, your goals, your people, and your vision. Then we provide vendor-neutral advice that enables you to better engage students and achieve student outcomes. Logicalis can help you:
- Build secure networks and strong identity and access management that protects both student privacy and networks.
- Configure and manage devices and select the right software platforms to ensure your educational apps perform as needed.
- Implement collaboration and videoconferencing systems that help you connect to students, extend classrooms, meet with other teachers and administrators, and more.
- Prepare for future disruptions with tested business continuity or continuity of operations plans that gives kids and teachers a sense of normalcy when there’s chaos around them.
- Assist IT teams by filling absences, skills, support, and other gaps and help teachers gain the confidence needed to deliver digital education.
Mike Marchal is Director of Technical Sales for Logicalis, responsible for working with account managers and customers to provide technical solutions to business problems.