Bowling Green, KY (February 5, 2021) – The year 2020 forced the quickest and most significant shift in education delivery strategies that has likely ever happened. What does this mean for our children, educators, and education systems in 2021? What are schools doing today that they never thought about 365 days ago? How are our children and educators dealing with all of this immense change? Some of these are questions that we will likely not have answers to for years.
What needs to be addressed in 2021? CONNECTIVITY!
Connectivity will be at the top of our discussion, of course, with a spotlight on the need for quality, equitable connectivity brighter than ever before. It also means that where connectivity doesn’t exist, it’s never been darker. Our schools had to jump headlong into virtual learning, knowing that connectivity was an issue for many students and having to provide the best experience possible through whatever means possible. No doubt, many school districts in the country have no problems with connectivity. However, they still struggle with the affordability of those services for their students. Yet, in many rural and not-so-rural areas of the country, there simply isn’t an equitable connection to be found for students.
In 2020, there were many strides to help address student connectivity, including states making voucher programs available, funding for providers to expand, schools looking at how to provide their own broadband services, etc. Many believe that in 2021, more and more educational systems will take even greater responsibility for the connectivity of their students as they look to deploy private wireless networks that reach well beyond their campus and provide secure and real-time connectivity to students. Schools are seeking new and innovative ways to work with providers to offer greater access to broadband for their students.
It’s likely that in 2021, schools will take a larger community role as they seek to ensure that they can service children and their families with quality education, despite being unable to be with students in a traditional classroom setting on a daily basis.
Digital First is the concept of planning for instruction and curriculum with digital delivery as the primary focus and in-person delivery second. In 2020, it became clear that in-person strategies couldn’t easily be converted to digital formats. This revelation has pushed many leaders in the education technology and curriculum space to believe that educators will plan for digital delivery strategies first, which can be much more easily translated to in-person instruction. This is a considerable shift in educational strategy, but one that could have a significant impact on both students and the educators working to plan and execute educational content delivery.
Beyond Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmatic:
The major focus over the past year has been to ensure that instruction for the core subjects were made possible virtually. However, one of the biggest concerns of educators is that there are so many other essential things learned in our schools that have been left behind since going virtual. Subjects such as the arts, physical education, and guidance are critical for the development of well-rounded students, but many schools have struggled with how to provide these subjects in meaningful ways. We should expect that as schools and the industries that support them continue to work to solve these problems that we’ll have better and more effective strategies for each of these critical education areas.
It has been the experience of our family, as well as most families I know, that they are further engaged with the education process of their children. Many experts believe it will be important to further expose the entire family to educational tools that allow parents and caregivers the opportunity to assist students in their work and be a participant in the learning experience.
2020 was tough, and we learned a lot about the holes in education technology and connectivity, particularly in rural areas, as well as in low-income areas. This year will hopefully pick up were 2020 left off, with strong support from the ground up to see greater access and more equity in connections in our communities.
About the Author: Wes Kerr is the Connected Nation Director of Community Solutions. He helps ensure the implementation of Technology Action Plans developed for communities through Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program (Connectedsm) and works closely with clients and stakeholders to provide solutions that will help them meet their technology goals.
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