Recognizing the transition in MN from classroom to online education – some bumps

Twin Cities Business reports on the transition from classroom to online education happening in the next two weeks. They talk about helping teachers teach online…

As schools grapple with the challenge of teaching children outside the classroom, the logical solution for many is online learning. Local organizations are stepping up to help support them.

The Minneapolis-based Professional Learning Board now offers five- and 30-hour courses for teachers to learn how to operate an online classroom. Most educators already have the skills to teach online, said PLB founder Ellen Paxton.

“The studies show that students learn as well, if not better, in an online setting,” she said.

Some will be better than others but that’s always the case. This we can get better at as time goes by.

They also look at dealing with limited devices for everyone…

For parents and kids at home working and learning, she recommends creating a structure and schedule, and having a designated workspace. For households with children sharing one device, she suggested creating a schedule to operate that, too.

Getting broadband to all…

But part of the problem with transitioning to online learning is that many areas in Minnesota still have limited access to broadband, as Walz noted during last week’s press conference announcing a state of emergency in Minnesota. Many school districts in the Iron Range are weighing options to overcome the lack of coverage. For example, districts are considering periodically busing kids to the school to retrieve materials, said Steve Giorgi, a member of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force and the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition.

“E-learning curriculum is really not a solution during this crisis, because far too many of the students do not have appropriate access to quality broadband with the capacity to do e-learning efficiently and effectively,” said Giorgi, who’s also executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools.

And high-speed, high-quality broadband can’t be deployed in an emergency situation, Giorgi said.

“Significant portions of the state have 50 percent coverage at 25 down, 3 up, which is a very minimal level. Obviously, there’s worse than that, but it’s a huge disparity between large municipal areas, large cities, and people that live in rural Minnesota,” he said.

The internet access many have doesn’t carry the proper bandwidth for online learning, Giorgi said.

“My fear is that in many cases the legislature considers funding for broadband a luxury, and it should be considered a utility and a necessity,” he said.

In the long run, this pandemic will help legislators recognize that broadband is more than a luxury, it is a necessity for education, economy, public heath and quality of life!

This entry was posted in education, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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