Tackling Educational Equity: The Positive Impact of Synchronous Virtual Learning

Daryl Chesley
November 30, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare several inequities in our education system - namely access to wifi, devices, and quality educators. As remote learning has become the norm for many students, it has exposed a growing digital divide and exacerbated the teacher shortage. 

According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, students from low-income families or rural areas are less likely to have access to high-speed internet and computers at home, leading to unequal opportunities for learning. Furthermore, schools in urban areas are often under-resourced and underfunded, furthering the situation. But there is hope. Proximity Learning, an innovative virtual learning platform, is providing solutions to these challenges.

Digital inequity

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to experience academic setbacks, and this is made worse by the growing digital divide. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 14% of US households with children do not have high-speed internet access, making it harder for students to complete homework, access online learning materials, or participate in live virtual classes. Proximity Learning is working to address this issue by providing schools with reliable and secure virtual learning solutions. Students can attend virtual classes and be connected with a synchronous, highly-qualified teacher, without the need for expensive hardware or software.

Furthermore, virtual learning provides equitable access to highly qualified teachers who may not be available in students' neighborhoods. According to a study by the Education Trust, affluent schools have more experienced teachers than those in low-income areas, leading to a disparity in access to quality education. This is where Proximity Learning comes in. Proximity’s virtual platform connects students with highly qualified and certified teachers from across all 50 states, providing equal access to quality instruction for all students.

Individualized education

Proximity Learning also offers curriculum-specific solutions for each student, such as differentiated instruction and individualized learning plans. For low-income schools with limited resources, having access to a wide range of curricular materials can be difficult. Proximity Learning solves this problem by offering a library of digital resources that are guided by expert teachers and tailored to align with state standards.

Expanded course lists

Beyond access to qualified teachers, virtual learning levels the playing field by providing access to advanced coursework and specialized programs. Proximity Learning offers a range of courses, including Advanced Placement and foreign language classes, which may not be available at every school due to budget constraints. Additionally, virtual learning provides access to specialized programs for students with disabilities or for those who need additional support outside of the regular classroom.

Hear it from the superintendent

The impact of Proximity Learning's virtual solutions can be seen in the testimonials from schools and districts that have partnered with them. Owsley County School District, located in rural Kentucky, experienced a significant improvement in student engagement and achievement after implementing virtual classes with Proximity Learning. The district's Superintendent, Tim Bobrowski, noted that the high-quality virtual instruction helped bridge the gap in education between students in Appalachia and those in more affluent areas. Similarly, the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District in Texas was able to expand its course offerings with virtual classes, allowing its students access to some of the best teachers in the state.

Enabling educational equity with synchronous instruction

The digital divide has long been a barrier to educational equity, but Proximity Learning is providing solutions. PLIs virtual learning platform is leveling the playing field by providing access to highly qualified teachers, advanced coursework, and specialized programs. Students from low-income families or rural areas can now receive the same quality education as their affluent counterparts. Proximity Learning's impact can be seen in the stories of schools and districts that have partnered with them, and it is clear that their virtual synchronous solutions are transforming education for the better.

Contact us to learn more about increasing impact in your community. 

Read more from the innovations series here.

about the author
Daryl Chesley

Dr. Daryl Chesley serves as the Director of Innovation at Proximity Learning. His areas of oversight include Curriculum Development & Implementation, Teacher Effectiveness, Professional Development, Organizational Innovations, Asynchronous Instruction, Institutional Funding and Proximity Learning’s Instructional Metaverse Development.

Prior to joining Proximity Learning, he held many leadership roles in public education and non-profit Healthcare education: including teacher, coach, High School Principal, Director and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction / Chief Academic Officer. He served in the US Navy. He attended Villanova University for undergraduate and earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from The George Washington University. Daryl currently serves on the Board of Directors for Maine ASCD.

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