This school year, Denver Public Schools Online High School is expanding its student body, as widely reported in media. Until 2021, it only served high school learners. Now it will serve middle school students too. That’s because the school district believes “that online and blended learning can… serve a plethora of unique student needs.” Traditional classrooms can use blending learning to meet unique student needs too, but only if the students have all the tools they need to get connected at home.
More Schools with Tech Tools
Before the pandemic-imposed shift to remote learning in 2020, most school districts had gradual, multi-year plans to transition to 1:1 computing. With Covid-19, those timelines shortened dramatically. In a matter of months, schools invested millions in portable devices so every student could learn from home until it was safe to go back to the classroom.
According to a survey by EducationWeek, only 2/3 of teachers said their schools had 1:1 computing in place before the Pandemic. By March 2021, that statistic changed to 9 out of 10.
With the majority of schools having enough portable computing devices for every student, what could education look like this school year and beyond? The question has educators and parents feeling optimistic about the possibilities. In fact, 84% of parents said they hope to see more technology used in classroom learning and almost half said they’d like to see more learning strategies that blend online and classroom learning.
Solving the Student Internet Access Challenge
There is one very obvious challenge to implementing blended learning strategies: they all depend on students having reliable internet connectivity at home. Work is being done by both public and private sectors to extend high-speed internet coverage beyond urban areas and provide low-cost options to schools. Mobile Citizen is one of those organizations. In fact, Mobile Citizen sells low-cost high-speed internet service and Wi-Fi mobile hotspots exclusively to non-profits, schools, libraries, and government agencies. In 2020, we were one of the organizations that made it possible for school districts to rapidly deploy Wi-Fi hotspots to students who didn’t have internet at home.
One of those school districts was Berkeley County School District in West Virginia. They purchased over 1,000 Mobile Citizen devices to make sure each of their students could have an equitable remote learning experience during the pandemic. You can read the case study here.
Blended Learning Strategies
Educators have many online education trends to consider as they look for ways to enhance their curriculum. Enriched virtual and flipped classroom have been well-proven, but some of the other models offer even greater potential for engaging students, increasing teaching flexibility and meeting individual students’ learning needs.
Enriched Virtual – classroom learning is required a few times a week, but the majority of coursework can be completed online, giving students more flexibility to work independently.
Flipped Classroom – in flipped classroom learning, students prep at home using online lectures and assignments, but attend in-person class for teacher-guided practice and project time.
Micro learning – in this method, materials can be broken down and delivered in small portions, making it easier to hold a student’s attention.
Game-based learning – by packaging learning into fun interactive experiences, this method can make learning skills like math, typing and problem-solving more enticing.
Social learning – collaboration is an important component of work, school-related or otherwise, so incorporating online learning groups and video-based peer-to-peer instruction with traditional coursework is a compelling learning method.
Looking at this school year and beyond, remote learning is becoming more of an opportunity for schools than a necessity. Educators can build on the enormous technology training and device roll-outs that happened in 2020 by combining traditional classroom learning with home-based online tools.
To explore opportunities for your school, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.