October 14, 2020
Software Supports Learning in Unprecedented Times
August 31, 2020
Back to school season usually means students, parents, and teachers are preparing to return to a busy routine packed with academic and extra-curricular activities. Busy times are certainly upon us, but the school semester that is starting will be far from usual. The coronavirus pandemic continues to require social distancing in many places, meaning families and schools will rely on technology more than ever to ensure students can successfully progress through their learning paths.
The pandemic is forcing many schools and universities to start the semester offering online-only classes or prepare to swiftly shift from in-person learning to remote instruction in response to new outbreaks. Software solutions will be critical to allow learning to continue throughout this health crisis.
As schools across the country develop virtual learning programs, we must work to make the benefits of technology available to everyone, regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status. In fact, it is more important than ever to ensure that internet access and hardware and software tools are available to all who need them to learn, including students living in rural areas or whose families do not have the financial means to access such resources. Continued collaboration between the public and private sectors is key to fill this gap.
Educators and students will benefit from leveraging software solutions to advance learning in these unprecedented times. Software.org supporters offer an array of solutions for students and educators, including some at a discounted rate or even free of charge. These resources help teachers plan lessons with their peers remotely, facilitate access to real-time online classes and pre-recorded lectures, enable group discussions, and offer a platform through which projects can be assigned and submitted, among other uses.
Extra-curricular activities, including coding and other STEM after-school clubs, will also leverage software solutions to keep students engaged. A great example of this is Girls Who Code. This summer, the organization pivoted to remote learning. Software-powered collaboration tools made this shift possible and meant that Summer Immersion Programs across the country – including the class hosted by Software.org – were able to reach a larger number of students. This fall, Girls Who Code will continue to expand their virtual programming by hosting online after-school programs for 3rd to 12th grade girls. Students and teachers looking to hone their digital literacy and software skills can also access training virtually, including through remote training opportunities offered by Software.org supporters and available through TranformYourTrade.org.
This academic year will be unlike any other. Technology in general – and software in particular – can help students and schools navigate the new normal. But no one should be left behind. The public and private sectors must continue joining forces to ensure learning can continue during these challenging times.
Leticia Lewis serves as Director of Software.org. In this capacity, she focuses on the foundation’s workforce development initiatives, including projects promoting diversity and inclusion in the software industry. She also works to help policymakers and the general public to better understand the positive impact of software on people’s lives and on all sectors of the global economy.