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Educators Worry About ‘Zoom Fatigue’ In Students, Recommend Innovative Teaching Techniques



March 24, 2021 – Educators must come up with ways to enhance the online learning experience or students will end up suffering from “Zoom fatigue” and falling behind, the Broadband Breakfast live event heard Wednesday.

David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, said students suffer from staring at a screen all day – “Zoom fatigue” — and need to be stimulated with higher-quality education. He said he hopes and expects distanced learning technology will improve the digital experience, which is an endeavor that requires more resources.

And students want high-quality remote learning, said panelist Charles Severance, clinical professor of information at the University of Michigan School of Information. That means that if demand is not met by educational institutions, then virtual learning may not be here to stay – potentially hobbling the system once again in the event the nation would need to reinstitute at-home learning.

But lawmakers and parents are seemingly waiting for the opportunity to have students return to in-person classes, a call that assumes students are better educated in the physical setting.

Educators on the ground, however, know that some students do better with – and in fact prefer – virtual learning than they do with in-person learning. In an interview with Broadband Breakfast on Monday, William Jeffery, the assistant principal at Columbia High School in the Columbia-Brazoria Independent School District in Texas, said students should therefore have a choice between virtual and in-person learning.

That hybrid model was also recommended on Wednesday’s live event.

Lori Williams, president and CEO of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, said different populations have different needs, and said many large institutions will continue instructing online, while others may stick with hybrid models, and some will try to go back to the traditional in-person method of teaching.

Regardless of what the institution chooses, she said students should be able to choose their own experience. The decision is no easier to make on a higher-ed level than it is for K-12 public schools.

Severance said that over just one weekend, the University of Michigan went from having about less than 1 percent of its credit offerings being online to the entire school’s offerings moving online, as it made the decision to shut down last March of 2020.

He said the school has historically been opposed to online education, and that though many of its faculty struggled with being forced to go digital, Severance saw it as a seriously challenging, yet huge opportunity to adapt and still give a quality educational experience.

But that shift requires money. As the country has dramatically shifted its education systems to virtual learning platforms, money and resources are needed to support the unforeseen demand. That’s why some say programs like the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program funded by Congress in December 2020 will see strong demand and will likely see all its funds spent.

Author and e-learning professional Badrul Khan, who was a panelist in the event, said education should be cost-effective and accessible, wherever it is happening.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the March 24, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 12 Noon ET — “The State of Online Higher Education”

  • It was one year ago this month that our nation shut down because of the coronavirus. Broadband Breakfast Live Online launched on March 13, 2020, as a way to connect people about the solutions that broadband could provide to the trials raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our first episode was on “Broadband, the Coronavirus and Education,” and in this session, we’ll check in with experts on the state of online higher education – one year in.


  • Dr. Badrul Khan, Author and E-Learning & Instructional Design Professional
  • Dr. Charles Severance, Clinical Professor of Information, University of Michigan School of Information
  • Dr. Lori Williams, President and CEO of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)
  • Dr. David Weinberger, Writer and Affiliate of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Dr. Badrul Khan coined the phrase Web-based instruction with his 1997 best-selling Web-Based Instruction book which paved the way for the new field of e-learning, Recognized as the founder of modern e-learning by 2014 NATO e-Learning Forum, he was inducted into the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame. He has authored or contributed to fifteen books and over 100 manuscripts in e-learning, his Managing E-learning book has been translated into 23 languages including Bangla. He is the host of KDW TV show on FOX 5 PLUS Washington, DC. and is the founder of, a micro-learning based Knowledge Carrier Platform.

Dr. Charles Severance is a Clinical Professor and teaches in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He teaches over popular Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) including Python for Everybody – the most popular online programming course in the world on the Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn platforms. He is also a long-time advocate of open source educational technology and open educational resources to empower teachers. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and the Chief Architect of the Sakai Project. Dr. Severance has written several books including “Using the Google App Engine”, “Python for Informatics”, “High Performance Computing”, and “Sakai: Free as in Freedom”.

Dr. Lori Williams is president and CEO of NC-SARA and has over 25 years’ experience in education. Prior to this role, she served as vice president at the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Dr. Williams has spoken at national and international conferences about adult and online learning, and served as professor, thesis advisor, and mentor. She holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Education Leadership from Union Institute & University, an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Saint Michael’s College, and a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University.

Dr. David Weinberger writes about the effect of technology  — particularly the Internet and machine learning  — on our ideas and lives. Most recently he was a writer-in-residence at Google AI, and before that he co-directed Harvard’s Library Innovation lab. Dr. Weinberger has long been affiliated with Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center and has been a philosophy professor, a Franklin Fellow at the US State Department and a book editor. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto.

Panelist Resources

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National Non-Profit to Launch Joint Initiative to Close Broadband Affordability and Homework Gap

EducationSuperHighway is signing up partners and will launch November 4.



Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of Education Super Highway.

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2021 – National non-profit Education Super Highway is set to launch a campaign next month that will work with internet service providers to identify students without broadband and expand programs that will help connect the unconnected.

On November 4, the No Home Left Offline initiative will launch to close the digital divide for 18 million American households that “have access to the Internet but can’t afford to connect,” according to a Monday press release.

The campaign will publish a detailed report with “crucial data insights into the broadband affordability gap and the opportunities that exist to close it,” use data to identify unconnected households and students, and launch broadband adoption and free apartment Wi-Fi programs in Washington D.C.

The non-profit and ISPs will share information confidentially to identify students without broadband at home and “enable states and school districts to purchase Internet service for families through sponsored service agreements,” the website said.

The initiative will run on five principles: identify student need, have ISPs create sponsored service offerings for school districts or other entities, set eligibility standards, minimize the amount of information necessary to sign up families, and protect privacy.

The non-profit said 82 percent of Washington D.C.’s total unconnected households – a total of just over 100,000 people – have access to the internet but can’t afford to connect.

“This ‘broadband affordability gap’ keeps 47 million Americans offline, is present in every state, and disproportionately impacts low-income, Black, and Latinx communities,” the release said. “Without high-speed Internet access at home, families in Washington DC can’t send their children to school, work remotely, or access healthcare, job training, the social safety net, or critical government services.”

Over 120 regional and national carriers have signed up for the initiative.

The initiative is another in a national effort to close the “homework gap.” The Federal Communications Commission is connected schools, libraries and students using money from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which is subsidizing devices and connections. It has received $5 billion in requested funds in just round one.

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Federal Communications Commission Says $5 Billion Requested for Emergency Connectivity Fund — in Just Round One!

The program is designed to help schools, libraries and students.



Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

August 25, 2021—Two months after launching the first round of applications, the Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that the Emergency Connectivity Fund has received more than $5 billion in funding requests.

The requests, which came from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, are for 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections.

The $7-billion program, whose first round closed August 13, provides funding for schools and libraries to buy laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and general connectivity is expected to help students stay connected at school and off school premises, addressing the “homework gap” made paramount during the pandemic.

The money is to be used for said services and devices purchased between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. The program will open a second round for applications due to a spike in new coronavirus cases, which will run from September 28 to October 13.

“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is the single largest effort to bring connectivity and devices to students who lack them – and this robust response from applicants shows the tremendous need in our communities,” FCC acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a Wednesday press release.

“This funding is an important down payment in closing the Homework Gap so that all children, regardless of their circumstances or where they live, have access to the tools they need to succeed,” she added.

Congress authorized the program as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The FCC has previously noted that the Emergency Broadband Benefit had proved out that there is demand for such a program and that the ECF would help fill the gap.

Breakdown by state

The FCC included a breakdown of the first-round requests by state. California was the top requester at roughly $812 million, followed by New York with $559 million, Texas with $496 million, Florida with $264 million, New Jersey with $225 million, Arizona with $200 million, Illinois at $197 million, Georgia $183 million, North Carolina with $149 million, Michigan with $108 million, Ohio with $103 million, and Puerto Rico with $102 million, and Washington rounding out the 9-digit requesters with $101 million.

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NTIA Releases Details on Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Project

The $285-million program will help connect minority educational institutions.



Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo

August 4, 2021–The agency managing telecommunications policy for the commerce department has released details Tuesday on eligibility for its $285-million grant program for broadband access for minority educational institutions.

The Connecting Minority Communities pilot program, announced in June, will address the lack of broadband access, connectivity and equity at historically Black colleges or universities, Tribal colleges or universities, and minority-serving institutions.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a notice of funding opportunity for the program, established via the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, which will grant funds to eligible recipients to purchase broadband service or equipment, hire IT personnel, operate a minority business enterprise or a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and facilitate educational instruction, including remote instruction.

Eligible institutions include 501 Hispanic-serving institutions, 336 Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, 104 predominantly Black institutions, 102 historically Black colleges and universities, 66 Alaska native-serving institutions and native Hawaiian-serving institutions, 37 Tribal colleges and universities, and 32 native American-serving non-Tribal institutions.

The deadline to submit applications is December 1, 2021.

“Communities of color have faced systemic barriers to affordable broadband access since the beginning of the digital age,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in a press release.

“The investments we make as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will help communities that are struggling with access, adoption and connectivity, and will inform our path forward as we seek to finally close the digital divide across the country,” she added.

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