By Jeremy Dolby
Education Tech Expert
LG Business Solutions USA
When Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered schools closed throughout the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic, sending home millions of students to learn remotely, Cicero School District 99 was ready. The K-8 district of 14,000 students, southwest of Chicago, was already five years into its mission, driven by Superintendent Rudy Hernandez, of changing the way it delivers education through technology in the classroom and beyond. Cicero 99 has embraced one-to-one learning by putting computing devices in the hands of all its students. It adopted Google Classroom and the Schoology online learning management system as foundational education tools. And it charted a professional development path for its staff that included Google Educator certification, with nearly 300 teachers certified at Level 1 or 2 so far. When Cicero 99 students and teachers began sheltering at home, they were ready to continue their studies.
K-12 school districts and service providers throughout the country have stepped up heroically to try and facilitate remote learning during the pandemic. By late March, New York City had distributed 175,000 laptops, Apple iPads and Chromebooks to students so they could study from home.1 Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland set up drive-through distribution days for students needing mobile devices to participate in the county’s new Continuity of Learning initiative.2 Online conferencing company Zoom gave schools free access to its platform and lifting time restrictions for its basic accounts.3 Google and Microsoft have also offered free access to their collaboration platforms.4 And internet service providers such as Comcast are addressing the digital divide by offering free connectivity to low-income families.5
To be sure, the current crisis has focused schools’ attention on enabling e-learning. When the pandemic subsides, districts that haven’t already will likely take a closer look at e-learning and the skills and solutions that make it possible. A study by Deloitte found that educators, students and parents want more and better access to e-learning.6 Not only does e-learning allow education to continue in times of disruption, whether due to a public health crisis or natural disaster, it creates new opportunities for students and teachers to improve learning outcomes.
During the sea change in U.S. education in the spring of 2020, LG’s education experts reached out to administrators, teachers and parents. In the next post we’ll discuss a few things school districts will be considering as they explore e-learning — now and in the future. Stay tuned.