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Internet outages in the age of e-learning

Posted at 5:38 PM, Aug 20, 2020

AVON – Avon High School students were supposed to begin their hybrid schedule Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that changed.

A widespread internet outage affecting the school’s internet service prompted teachers to work remotely and the district to continue with e-learning.

Avon High School sent parents this email this morning stating they would not begin hybrid learning as scheduled, saying "Our instruction is based almost entirely on Schoology, an internet-based program. Without internet access, it is impossible to implement our schedule as planned."

"The challenge is going to be is this what looks to be in intermediate internet access, how many times is this going to happen throughout the year?” said Ball State economist Michael Hicks. “And so now if you're in Avon schools or if you're a dean at any school corporation around the state, you're thinking about in the back of my mind, if I send my kids home for a week what if there's two days with Internet down?"

A recent Ball State study finds - this presents a major problem. It found that one-in-13 kids in Indiana don't have any internet access. And broadband is unavailable in these communities three times that number.

That puts many students in difficult situations, who do not have strong internet connection required for high-level virtual learning. The broadband shortage, especially affects those in rural communities where homes are more spread out.

Hicks said online learning is workable for most students. But for those who are lower income, with less access to resources at home or broadband and technology are at risk of losing decades of work, closing the achievement gap in education.