Savanna Navarro Kresse, an important main story in the State, Tri-Cities, Washington University participated in a local Facebook live broadcast this week on higher education during COVID-19. His intelligent answers and calm attitude mask their discomfort: she was answering questions from his car, parked on campus, with the sun overhead. She badly wanted to turn on your air conditioner, but I needed to keep ambient noise to a minimum.

Kresse was the conditions, as it often does. From COVID-19 coup, it has spent two or three hours per week in the same parking lot, doing classwork or take online tests. Studying in your car is not ideal, but this is the only place where you can access Wi-Fi reliable.

"It can be a little weird having a test in your car," he said. "As for his books or notes while keeping your laptop on your lap can be uncomfortable, too. It may be worse when their tests have a time limit and are trying to hurry and look through notes. "

The academic world has increased more than the challenges posed by the rapid transition to teaching from distance. But the whole shift was based on the idea that all students have access not only to a computer, but with reliable Internet access. In fact, many do not.

While some students report ending the semester with only their phones, many institutions have done everything possible to loan laptops to computerless students who would otherwise be working in the computer labs on campus . The problem of Internet access is more complicated, however.

Some students, especially in rural areas, have no availability of broadband Internet. Other generally have irregular Wi-Fi or experience overload router when multiple devices running at once inside a house. data plans that reached the maximum, too.

That's just connectivity. The other problem is affordability, or if students can pay for access to the Internet, where available. Many can not.

All of these concerns existed before COVID-19. However, the pandemic that has left bare and exacerbated them so that can only widen documented gaps in performance.

Karen Stout, president of achieving the dream, a job nonprofit to ensure the success of the college student community, said these inequalities are why community colleges were some of the last institutions to move all remote instruction.

"We knew we were getting some students at risk," he said. "We know that many community college students use our libraries to make their courses remotely, for example, take courses online, but the use of our libraries to do."

Stout said the need is most acute among students in rural and tribal colleges.

When you go distance became inevitable, the "first wave" of the response was to get devices into the hands of students, he said. The next wave was about access to the Internet, including "highly organized this movement to community college parking access points Wi-Fi."

signal boost

Some universities already offer free Wi-Fi in their parking lots. Other signal amplifiers installed to extend its Wi-Fi for specific lots pandemic. Some have announced long hours of operation, especially security offering, along with the rules for social distancing :. A space between each vehicle, for example

While various institutions require credentials student to connect to the Wi-Fi network, others have invited the larger community - including students K-12 - that share access < / p>

Getting sleep is currently studying ways universities have responded to the needs of the student during the pandemic and to what extent students have. committed to the services offered. Stout called the "COVID dashboard."

Applauded schools for their 'creativity' so far in supporting students and noted that some have made the points parking Wi-Fi ready for food pantries of the campus.

at the beginning of the pandemic, Tri Cities approached the students about their needs Wi-Fi. Kresse thought he was covered, as it had Wi-Fi at home. Since then, however, the connection failed to support their school work and their four children (she calls herself a-traditional post student). a new router was purchased as soon as the payment is received funds of federal economic stimulus, but did not do much good.

to limit their need for Wi-Fi, which usually read transcripts and studies powerpoints of its meetings synchronous classes instead live tuning, but there are times -. even when she is taking evidence - you need a sign and strong. that goes to his fate campus.

Kresse said it would help students like her if c ould get in and out of the tests several times to accommodate the challenges of Wi-Fi, concerns about academic integrity though. Wi-Fi Hotspot devices and clear guidelines for who qualifies for them would also be useful, he said. (Washington State is in the process of providing more of these.)

"It would be good if the state or federal government intervened," Kresse said. "What this is showing us is an infrastructure problem."

Charles M. Roessel, president of Diné College on the Navajo Nation, said students have used "parking, hilltops and plateaus and any other place where signal is strong enough to have access to our online classes. "

laptops university bought and wireless access points for students and teachers, but teachers still had to be" flexible, with some of them providing four different delivery methods for class each week (zoom, text, email and phone), "Roessel added via email. Many students drive 30 to 50 miles to get a weak signal, and while his dedication is inspiring, "a student should not spend all their creativity just to connect to the Internet."

diné has received federal approval for temporary access to a range of 2.5 GHz unused, allowing students to have full access and free internet access, Roessel said. "We are opening this to all university students and not just dinner."

Marta Yera Cronin, president of Columbia Gorge Community College in Oregon, said the pandemic has shown, among other things, that "technology is not the great equalizer that some people think it is" even in The USA. in 2020.

Wi-Fi Colombia's throat is always accessible in their parking lots. (Computer Labs also remained open for a later time the instruction was remote, but the university found that students were afraid of them, despite hygiene strict and the requirements of social distancing.) The institution also checked out dozens of access point devices to students so that they would not have to visit the campus. Some live as far as 90 minutes.

Cronin University recently received a grant from Google to provide more access points, which will be given to students indefinitely. It is also negotiating with a wireless service provider to increase internet speed on those devices. For that reason, perhaps, parking Wi-Fi has not been so popular on campus and elsewhere. Still, Cronin saw several nursing students studying together while apart from their cars in a parking lot the other day.

"Messaging from the first day on the Internet is, 'anything you need, come to us, to make a request. You do not have to show any specific need, 'because I do not want there to be any extra variable to get those things to them. "

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