[ONLINE] - Closing the Home Learning and Homework Gap

Innovative School and Community Wi-Fi Initiatives

School closures have turned homes into classrooms for most of America’s students and educators. But teaching and learning online is only possible in homes with adequate broadband connections, and at least 7 million school-age children lack the broadband internet access needed to participate in online education.

The current pandemic has laid bare an ongoing connectivity crisis, particularly in low-income and rural areas. A lack of broadband for students at home aggravates longstanding educational inequities. Compounding the struggle of individual students and families, many schools in low-income communities cannot rely on online instruction because too many students lack adequate connectivity, harming all students in underserved areas.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has turned this existing homework gap into a learning chasm. What can school districts do to connect all students to online learning? How should Congress and the Federal Communications Commission help?

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel will kick off a discussion about possible federal efforts to address the homework gap, including potential legislation to increase E-Rate funding and flexibility.

The webinar will also examine how community broadband networks can help students stay connected. OTI recently published a report on successful community broadband networks in the U.S., and the webinar will feature innovative school districts that have pioneered the use of community Wi-Fi. We’ll hear how these districts partnered with municipalities and others to extend community Wi-Fi networks directly to students’ homes.

Follow the conversation online using #HomeworkGapSolutions and following @OTI.

Keynote Discussion:

Jessica Rosenworcel
, @JRosenworcel
Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

Karen Cator, @kcator
President and CEO, Digital Promise

Sarah Morris, @sarmorris
Director, New America’s Open Technology Institute

Panel Discussion:

David Fringer, @dfringer
Chief Technology Officer, Council Bluffs (IA) Community School District

Vickie Robinson, @VSRob29
Director, Airband Initiative--USA, Microsoft

Randal Phelps, @randal_phelps
Chief Technology Officer, East Side Union H.S. District, San Jose, CA

Tina Hike-Hubbard, @BaltCitySchools
Chief of Communications, Engagement and Enrollment for Baltimore City Public Schools

Michael Calabrese, @MCalabreseNAF (moderator)
Director, Wireless Future Project, OTI

Note: New America is committed to following privacy and security best practices when hosting remote public events. Due to our technological capabilities for large online events at this time, the event will be facilitated as a Zoom webinar, but will be streamed to YouTube so that participants do not have to use Zoom in order to view the event if they so choose. The event will use the Zoom webinar function, not the meeting function, so that no individuals other than the panelists and moderator will be able to communicate, share screens, or send messages. For any attendees who do choose to view the event over Zoom, the list of participants will only be available to New America as the host. The event will also be recorded and made available later on YouTube and New America’s website.