Lack of Internet Access Creates Remote Learning Challenges

Rose (left) and Naima (right) tell KGNU about their struggles with online learning

Starting the week of Thanksgiving, most students in Colorado will remain in remote learning until at least January of 2021.

As KGNU’s Rosanna Longo reports, around Colorado families are working to balance the return to remote learning and overcome the barriers associated with access to the technology desperately needed to succeed in school during the pandemic.

Listen to the report:

(Download Audio)

Naima is a student at Pioneer Elementary School in Lafayette and is one of thousands of students across Colorado dealing with online learning; so is her friend Rose. They both talk about the things that are confusing, especially in math.

“My classmates answer math questions a lot quicker than I do and, even if I am still figuring it out in my head, they just blurt out the answer in the chat” Rose said. Rose feels that students don’t care about other students as much.

Naima also struggles with the challenges presented by digital learning, especially since they started learning using Schoology. It is a little harder for students because when everyone’s on it, it’s all very slow. But there are things in remote learning that Rose and Naima like. Using Google Meet, they can click a button that raises their hand or gives a thumbs up, or they can use an emoji.

Naima and Rose talk about their friend Carmen, a classmate they had not seen for a long time. “Today I saw Carmen for the first time.” Naima said. Carmen is one of the girls she hasn’t seen in any of the online classes, but she finally saw her in Miss. Marks’ class because, as Carmen said, “she does not have the internet at home.”

Lara Van Matre is Naima’s mom and Program Coordinator for Bridging the Digital Divide

Lara Van Matre is Naima’s mom and Program Coordinator for Bridging the Digital Divide, a community initiative concerning the digital gap. For Van Matre, it is now more important than ever, with the increased need for internet accessibility, especially in education.

“The Internet is not just a luxury but a right”, said Lara Van Matre.

According to the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Education Initiative, more than 65,000 students in Colorado lack internet access. The state of Colorado is spending $2 million to provide internet access to students who are learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. These steps will go some way towards closing the digital divide, and advocates like Lara Van Matre say that it is urgent that this issue is addressed.

For a deep dive into the issue of technology-related barriers to education during the pandemic make sure to check out the TRENDS Podcast episode Pandemic-Related Challenges to Special Needs Education