Working to Close the Opportunity Gap with Technology

Graphic by Joe Kottke.


Graphic by Joe Kottke.

Zaid Elbaroudi, Staff Writer

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  Wayzata High School has recently purchased hotspots for students to use at home with their school iPads. The idea, which was proposed by Associate Principal Tyler Shepard, was approved in November. According to Shepard, it is “a big step towards closing opportunity gaps.”
  Most schools are moving towards technology-based learning. However, it does create problems for students who don’t understand how to use the technology or don’t have internet access.
  According to Shepard, the idea came after learning from Social Worker Jodi Sorenson that many students aren’t able to complete school work or homework because they don’t have access to internet at home. These students wouldn’t be able to access Canvas, Skyward, or the internet for educational purposes.
  “It’s really stressful for students when they can’t get their work done because it is out of their control,” said Sorenson. “A lot of the things we do at school are internet-based, so it makes it practically impossible to get things done.”
  According to Shepard, the hotspots will only be able to connect to a school-issued iPad, so students won’t be able to connect their phone or any other device. The internet access provided from the hotspot will still have the web filters students have at school.
  Shepard said that the hotspots were made available in time for all students to be able to participate in the virtual learning day on April 12th.
  Sorenson said, previously, students who didn’t have internet access at home were sometimes excused from assignments or weren’t penalized for not completing them. With hotspots, students have resources that they need for school, allowing them to have the same expectations as other students.
  According to Sorenson, previously, the school arranged for students to get work done at school and take the late bus home.
  “With technology, we must be cognisant of the limitations some people have, not just with internet but needing other technology as well. If a student needs a computer at home, we have the ability to do that,” said Sorenson.

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