The global Coronavirus pandemic outbreak has changed the educational landscape forever. Faced with the demands of social distancing restrictions, educational establishments are forced to transition to remote learning, making use of all the available tools to facilitate the new model of the study process. Most obviously, none will ever get back to the traditional methods after having experienced all the advantages of the novelty.
Luckily, incredible technological advancements and a sufficient technical base for further developments play an indispensable role in this transition and adaptation to new ways of knowledge distribution and acquisition. An incredible array of high-tech gadgets, applications, and online tools is constantly growing since March 2020, when schools were forced to shut down with the beginning of the global pandemic.
On the one hand, even the least tech-savvy and the most conservative teachers have already adapted to the majority of innovative teaching methods and are ready to master the new ones. On the other hand, the sad reality is that students in many areas have appeared in a very disadvantageous position, experiencing a drastic shortage of the necessary devices and Internet access to meet their educational needs.
Fortunately, there chanced to emerge a low-cost and readily accessible alternative to more advanced solutions meant to bridge this digital divide in less fortunate districts. Although it may seem surprising, this solution is the television. Indeed, the technology is not new but, as it has already been proven, very efficient, being cost-effective and readily available in addition. Public television stations started featuring learning programs in all 50 states back in March 2020. As an extension, various school districts took advantage of the idea and started using their local cable stations to produce their own educational programming.
Television has always been considered a vice aimed at stealing our time, rotting our children’s brains, and making their loafers. Ironically, the most recent global circumstances have turned everything upside down, proving that this seemingly useless and even harmful technology can be a priceless gift and, for some, even a saver sent for the greater good of humanity. Of course, watching TV all day long even with the educational aim would seem not quite sound. However, no one would deny its irrefutable advantage for the recently adopted remote teaching process.
A simple TV set has stopped being a luxury long ago, having turned into a trivial piece of furniture, an inevitable part of every house’s interior. In fact, it is a more frequent possession in the majority of households than a personal computer. Similarly, cable television is more common in most homes and areas than high-speed WiFi. Naturally, it makes a better educational instrument under the circumstances of remote learning forced by the pandemic-associated social distancing restrictions than the Internet-based tools. That is why the broadcasting of the regular lessons by the nationwide network came as real salvation for the less advantaged districts.
It is not a big surprise that the Internet has long been the primary assistant for students of all ages with their numerous classes, assignments, and various kinds of actions. They go surfing websites and online services to get help with slide presentations, creating different kinds of projects, writing a personal statement for graduate school, producing essays and papers, staging mini-plays, or performing a myriad of other activities. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in early Spring 2020, the Internet has officially become the main educational medium after the mass school closures around the world.
However, its accessibility is still a great challenge for many, a factor that had to be taken into account during this transition. According to federal statistics, Internet access is absent in approximately 14% of households with school-aged children. Thousands of low-income families residing in rural areas are deprived of a reliable Internet connection as well as the ability to purchase any technological devices like computers. The tough realities demanded other solutions that came in the form of television. Public media stations emerged as a salvation and a very vital educational resource in this challenging process of remote learning provision, offering families, school districts, and education agencies indispensable support during these harsh times.
Being tremendously vital, federal funding still remains insufficient for local public media stations. Under the consequences of economic strain caused by the pandemic, the provision of remote learning services has put an additional financial burden on them. Nevertheless, these educational programs have been prioritized to ensure the accessibility of the necessary learning tools to all school-aged children nationwide. Luckily, Congress considered the legislation of providing emergency funding for these efforts, proving its readiness to support the less advantaged communities across the country.