Online Learning During the Pandemic Is Extra Tough Where Wifi Is Illegal


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By Mother Jones. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Schools across the country have closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, and classes have moved online. For most students, disruptions to regular learning have been challenging enough. But for those without high-speed internet, even filing homework has become next-to impossible, resulting in plunging grades and widespread uncertainty. In today’s episode, the Mother Jones Podcast team takes you to a place where wifi is illegal: Green Bank, West Virginia. This small town is home to a super-sensitive radio telescope built in 1958 that scientists use to explore black holes and deep space. But closer to Earth, wifi interferes with the giant instrument, so it’s banned within a 10-square-mile radius. Meanwhile, hard-wired internet is mind-numbingly slow. Fifteen percent of students here don’t have internet access at home, while 30 percent don’t have access to a device that even connects to the internet, no matter where they are. Producer Molly Schwartz talks to students, teachers, and librarians in Pocahontas County about what it’s like to do distance learning in a place where the internet infrastructure just can't deal, revealing the nation's entrenched digital divides as the pandemic shakes the education system to its core.

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