You are here

Limited Technology Options for Remote Learning

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As we enter unprecedented times navigating a new normal where remote learning becomes our main source of education, we have to remember technology is still a tool, and good teaching is what we must rely on.

Technology can be leveraged to help communicate with families, collaborate with colleagues, and provide the opportunity to continue the learning already started in our classrooms. That being said, technology is a tool, not the focus, and we must realize not everyone has the same access to this resource.

Whether it is unreliable or limited internet access, no access, or maybe even just a cell phone for access, some educators and students will struggle to keep up in an online learning environment. Though we tend to focus on students, this limited access may affect teachers and administrators, as well. For those planning to move forward with online learning, it is important to be mindful of ways to include those with limited or no internet access.

Our Wisconsin digital equity pillars define four characteristics to ensure schools can serve all students: accessible digital content, a designated computer at home for school activities, internet access, and digital literacy training for staff and students.

During these extraordinary times, there are low-technology and community opportunities to support at-home learning, as well as connections to help provide social-emotional support. Innovative thinking and community planning with resources can offer solutions to serve students and families. We have created a list of tips and activities that can be included in your planning for remote learning with low technology options:

Communicate - Stay connected with families and the community

  • Call regularly

    • Personal cell phone (block number with *67)

  • Video conferencing options (but don’t require attendance). When available, create a text-to-speech transcript of the meeting.

  • Email/Newsletters - Keep communication lines open

    • Use plain text for emailing instead of an attachment that needs downloading

  • Student Information System (SIS) messenger tools that can be read on smartphones

  • Google Form - create a Google form to check in daily with students about how they are feeling and what support they may need

    • Can be completed on computer device or smartphone

Collaboration - Google is a great collaboration tool and you don’t need to be online to work

Possible Internet Options

Limited Bandwidth

  • Ask students to turn off cameras when not speaking.

  • Leverage phone lines or collaborative docs with online forum tools for engagement versus video web conferencing.

  • Determine key instruction or communication goals when requiring high levels of bandwidth use by students and the instructor.

  • Be considerate of the level of streaming video students may view at home, as downloadable digital content may be easier to view.

If you have any questions regarding internet options and limited bandwidth, please reach out to:

Ed Snow, assistant director, Instructional Technology Services:

Alternative Learning Options

  • Tune in to local broadcast networks for educational television and create lessons that may coincide with the learning.

  • Can you provide hard copies of the assignments?

  • Create a QR code to the paper copy that could be accessed on a smart device.

If you have any questions or need to identify strategies to close the digital equity gaps, please reach out to:

Janice Mertes, assistant director, Teaching and Learning (Digital Learning):

Chad Kliefoth, digital learning consultant: