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How distance learning has changed education for students

Posted at 12:15 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 15:17:22-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The kids are home and teachers are trying to make sure students don't fall behind. That's the reason why, here at 13 Action News, we're launching our Super Summer Rise campaign. Through the campaign, we will share stories we hope help you and your family as the kids continue their education from their living rooms.

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A crucial learning tool is now in the hands of thousands of Las Vegas students, giving all of them an opportunity to expand their knowledge beyond the classroom. As part of our Super Summer Rise campaign, Anchor Nina Porciuncula looks how the Chromebook has made a significant difference in a Clark County student’s education and why there’s more work to be done.

Bella Castellarin is one of thousands of Clark County School District students who used Chromebooks as schools shutdown due to the coronavirus.

"It took me and a couple of my friends a minute to figure out how stuff will work now and how we’ll stay in contact with our teachers, but it wasn't too hard to transition over," she said.

For mom Krista Whitley, distance learning comes with challenges.

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"Playing both mom and teacher has been really overwhelming," said Whitley. "Especially because I am still working full-time now from home so it's just an added level of trying to juggle everything."

Castellarin and her classmates at Fertitta Middle School also have to adjust to a new way of learning.

"It was certainly odd when teachers were trying to," Castellarin began before explaining, "In my science class we were just getting in the human body. And having to start something brand-new without actually being there, and around everyone else, getting to know it, personally being there."

But, there are perks too. Whitley says her daughter is learning skills she can eventually apply in the workforce.

"I think the Chromebook has empowered her to manage her schedule, she has to remember her Zooms," said Whitley. "I'm not her concierge, I'm not her appointment book. And it's helping her in the sixth grade level to learn independent, accountability to take responsibility for her education."

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Teacher Danita Britt says, with the Chromebooks she has seen an increase in students in her Google Classrooms doing assignments at Wendell P. Williams Elementary School.

"I think some of [the students] that did not like the traditional classroom, because of the time constraints," Britt said, "[those students] were working on Saturday and Sunday and 8 o'clock at night. Getting up early, if they just happen to be up. And then I might not see anything again for 2 or 3 hours, I was like 'oh so they got up and did that assignment and then went back to sleep!'"

In the combined class of fifth graders she oversees, 47 of the 50 students have joined her Google Classrooms.

Britt and Castellarin - a middle school student and an elementary school teacher - both say student access to Chromebooks is a problem they see in their schools.

That’s why the Public Education Foundation is partnering with former U.S. Congressman Jon Porter as part of the distance learning task force to help CCSD raise money to connect students who might otherwise be left behind.

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"Our our mission at the distance learning task force is to elevate to the community and let everyone know that there is still a need and that’s a very serious need," said Porter.

As of May 27, the task force has raised around $650,000 to help an estimated 190,000 students in need of a Chromebook.

So far, CCSD has distributed around 111,000 devices to students. For the upcoming school year, they need 72,000 more Chromebooks.

Each unit costs around $300.

Those who are lucky to have access to Chromebooks hope others will get the chance to continue their education from their living rooms too.

"I'm so proud of our community and what we've done," said Whitley. "And I hope we continue to make those investments so that every child in Clark County has that opportunity,"

To donate to the CCSD Technology Fund, click here.