The current crisis has highlighted the disparity between students with and without equitable access to technology, especially in rural districts and schools. While most teachers are being asked to take their lessons directly to the students’ homes, many administrators know that the challenges in their district go beyond whether or not students have enough devices to do their classwork.
During the edWebinar “Leading Digital Transformations in Rural School Districts,” the presenters talked about how the COVID-19 situation amplifies the obstacles rural districts and schools face transitioning to a 21st century learning environment.
One of the first challenges rural districts face is broadband access. Whether during a typical school year or now, many families don’t have home Wi-Fi, and kids must find alternative ways to complete online work outside of school hours. Normally, many rural districts work with local libraries and businesses to give students Wi-Fi hotspots. Now, they are employing creative methods, such as expanding the reach of the school’s broadband so students can do work from the parking lot or in the surrounding area, having off-duty patrol cars become hotspots across the district.