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Homework Gap Threatens Remote Learning

About 17 million school-age children -- including one-third of students in Black, Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native households -- do not have at-home Internet access, and 7.3 million lack access to a computer at home, according to an analysis from the Urban League, UnidosUS, the National Indian Education Association and the Alliance for Excellent Education. The groups are calling for $6.8 billion from the federal E-rate program to be directed to close the "homework gap."

Pandemic Fuels Demand for Back-to-School Digital Devices

Families are expecting to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year, partly because of e-learning tech needs spurred by the pandemic, a survey finds. Laptops, tablets, speakers and headphones are likely to be big sellers, with the average K-12 family expected to spend nearly $800.

Survey: Students Faced Online Learning Obstacles

Only 39% of students reported learning a lot daily during remote instruction, according to a survey by YouthTruth of 20,000 students in nine states. About half of students reported feeling depressed or stressed, and many students said they had obstacles to remote learning, such as distractions at home. These are interesting statistics given getting back to school is just around the corner for many students, and while not all states and districts have decided how to handle instruction this year during Covid -19, virtual learning in some capacity is sure to be a reality.

Lessons Learned From Remote Instruction

An article on the National Public Radio site offers some lessons that could be useful as educators consider possible instructional models for the fall, and parents get ready for the impact on their family’s lives. Among them are additional support for parent-assisted learning, programs targeted to keep teens on track, and online systems to assess, remediate and individualize learning. The article is a must read if you think your district will be supporting full or partial remote learning this fall.

Learning About Online Learning

Wondering about the overall success of online learning during the pandemic? An article in The New York Times outlines two reviews of nearly 300 studies comparing remote and in-person learning, stating findings that students generally learn more when a teacher is physically present. This matches anecdotal narratives surrounding forced remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the articles also states that students who had access to an instructor during remote learning are performing at the same level or higher, noting that “virtual education will depend for its success on old-school principles: creative, attentive teaching and support from parents.”

Remote Learning Success: Survey Says Correlation to Family Income

Students from wealthier families are more likely to be engaging in remote instruction, according to a survey from the advocacy group ParentsTogether. Data shows that 83% of students from families earning more than $100,000 annually were participating in distance learning daily -- compared with 4 in 10 of the country's students from the poorest families accessing it about once a week or less. The survey also found big gaps reported by families whose children are in special education.

Remote Learning is Taking a Toll on Some Students, While Others Flourish

Remote learning is taking a toll on parents’ and students' mental and emotional health, say Peter Faustino, a school psychologist for a public school district in New York State, and Shawna Rader Kelly, a school psychologist in a Montana district. They share strategies to help teachers and parents identify kids who are disengaged, such as logging on for a class but not enabling audio or video, and suggest ideas for offering support.

In contrast, some students are thriving with remote learning, including some who have shown to be distracted or struggle in a traditional classroom environment, or who prefer to learn at their own pace. These turnarounds have also manifested among some teachers, who are faring well with less social interaction.

Can Education Technology Do More for Parents and Kids?

Parents are more invested than ever in what their children are learning during this period of prolonged school closures, and Katie Parsons, mother of 5 and editor of SmartBrief on EdTech, says technology providers should consider ways to better engage parents. Parsons - an education technology advocate- shares what this challenging situation has revealed to her and other parents, including that "edtech can do more," particularly when it comes to equity in education. She also discusses her view of the shortcomings of online learning and her belief that customized learning isn’t custom enough.

Burnout Resources for Suddenly Home Schooling Parents

Remote Possibilities, a blog by veteran education technology editor Kevin Hogan, delivers down-to-earth insights and practical resources to parents who have suddenly found themselves teaching their children. Get ideas for creating fun (seriously!) teachable moments in Digital Diaries; see What’s Streaming; or find activities for young learnerselementary, and middle- and high-school students. Hogan’s brand of wit makes it a particularly enjoyable experience.

Parents Put Less Value on Online Education

Some parents do not value remote instruction as much as they do in-person teaching, and would not want to pay the same tuition for online classes, a Facebook survey of parents by Tyton Partners found. Among parents of high-school seniors that responded to the survey, 10% said they would not enroll their child in a college that offered only online classes. How are you feeling about how your district has handled distance learning?