Reliable internet access is essential for hybrid or virtual learning, but it can be challenging to secure.
Even if a family has an internet connection at home, multiple children and even parents may be trying to access it all at the same time. Some kids might even be connecting using hotspots via their parents' cellphones—that is, until their parents are called back to the workplace and have to take those cell phones with them.
All these disruptions can make it difficult to establish and keep the strong connection that's necessary to participate in a class through video conference or even play back a prerecorded lesson. As if these challenges weren't complicated enough on their own, traditional internet access usually requires users to stay put—and that can be a problem if a student needs to keep up with schoolwork while waiting for a doctor's appointment or tagging along with a parent who can't work from home.
Students who come to school in person may have their own challenges, too, such as long commute times during which they could be doing coursework if they only had connectivity on the bus.
According to Jeannine Medvedich, chief academic officer for Chief Leschi Schools in Washington's Puyallup Valley, it's important not to make assumptions about what a parent's life might be like or how students might need to access a hybrid, remote or virtual learning environment. "Our true north is our kids. How do we make that as accessible as possible, knowing that there are people, like me, who don't have that luxury of being at home with their kids?"
By keeping that true north front and center, schools can ensure better equity in a hybrid or remote learning environment.