Digital learning not only plays a crucial role in preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, it also has an important role in providing more equitable access to education, especially in smaller and remote school districts.
The webinar featured Minnesota’s own Marc Johnson who spoke about the role for an organization such as ECMECC…
Marc Johnson, executive director of the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative, who joined Fox on the webinar, said Minnesota has 18 regional networks, most of which now use leased fiber-optic networks. This provides the state with a scalable infrastructure, he said, and by monitoring disruptions and usage levels, administrators can buy additional bandwidth to accommodate future growth.
The ECMECC staff provides instructional technology support for districts, which is especially important for smaller ones that may not have full-time tech support people of their own. The staff also manage the network’s shared firewall and other security features that help to prevent cyberattacks. A data center, meanwhile, provides off-site storage and backup.
Moving forward, Johnson and his team will be facilitating schools’ implementation of 1:1 device initiatives, and the introduction of more 21st century digital courses. Districts can make their own through a process he called “curriculum adaptation,” rather than curriculum adoption.
A key aspect of this type of teaching and learning is the increased use of interactive video for online field trips or other activities. Examples include the opportunity for high school students taking health classes to observe and interact with medical personnel as they perform procedures, or observe a musician in a distant city teaching classes and leading rehearsals.
This type of distance learning can be especially valuable for smaller rural districts, but also for underfunded districts in urban areas that may not have the resources to send students to other parts of the city.