NEW YORK (AP) — Across the U.S., the pandemic has forced students to attend virtual school to prevent spread of the coronavirus. But the more we rely on technology, the bigger the consequences when gadgets or internet service let us down.
Technology being technology, all sorts of things can go wrong. Your internet service may be inadequate for all-day videoconferencing or simply overstressed. Hardware and software can be confusing, can break, and sometimes just fails to work. There can be unanticipated consequences from turning on a new video camera in your home for school lessons.
Here are answers to some common questions from parents now forced to manage their kids’ virtual educations.
Q: We don’t have a computer/enough computers/fast enough internet service for online school. What do we do?
A: This affects millions of people, and there are no perfect solutions.
It’s possible to use smartphones as hotspots for computers, but that’s an imperfect solution at best. Not all plans let you run hotspots off your phone, and if you can, you probably face data caps — which makes it impractical for all-day online school.
Some cable companies are offering low-cost service for eligible families, although those programs are typically limited to areas the companies already serve, often provide only minimum broadband speeds and frequently aren’t available to former customers who owe the cable company money.