School will not resume in person for the remainder of the year for my kids. As a parent, I’m lucky in that I have the technology readily available and time flexibility to enable distance learning. Fast Internet, iPads, Chromebooks, Macs, Apple TVs, and a Windows PC. Plenty of screens. Just having these devices is a first step, knowing how to use them is the other advantage. My life has not only been run digitally with email, calendars, and video calls for decades, but I’ve written/implemented/supported these technologies.
The school has infrastructure with Google Classrooms. They’re also distributing Chromebooks to those that don’t have them, we are blessed to be in such a good school. However, 4th grade and Kindergarten were never meant to be done via distance learning. As I sat with my son last night going through his GMail and Google Calendar the weight of this change started to finally sink in.
The past week we’ve done video calls with the kids’ friends and there have been pilot video calls with teachers. Everyone is adapting, but it’s sad and upsetting. Although these digital tools are amazing and we are very fortunate to have them, this is going to be tough. I’m sad that these tools will not be on the roadmap of things to learn, but the essential platform upon which their days will be based at such young ages. Kids are meant to play and socially interact in person. It is the greatest tool school can teach, how to get along with one another and interact in an in-person setting.
Further, what about the digital divide? What about those kids that don’t have these tools? What about parents not as proficient in these skills?
If you’re reading this you’re digitally savvy and I implore you to have your ears open for opportunities to help. A teacher, student, or parent struggling to work with technology is an opportunity to help the community. Have an extra device laying around? Dust it off and get it in the hands of someone who can use it.