Groups Warn of Downsides to Remote Learning

Over 100 organizations and individuals have signed on to a letter warning about the downside of remote learning in the age of COVID-19 and beyond. 

Currently, Congress is allocating billions of dollars to make it easier for broadband-enabled hybrid in class/at home schooling models and all-online learning. 

Related: FCC Spreading Word on EdTech Funding 

As some school districts pull back on reopening in person due to spikes in the virus, privacy and other groups are warning parents and schools to "look past simplistic solutions peddled to increase EdTech profits, and find ways to limit students’ time on digital devices." 

They said they recognize there is uncertainty about how schools will operate. "Nevertheless, whether school is in-person, remote, or some combination thereof, educators should ensure that their curricula and assignments center on offline, high-engagement components such as hands-on, project- and place-based learning," they said. 

Related: Senate Bill Would Spur Ed Tech 

Their concern is the push for remote learning will translate to EdTech companies capturing more children's data, crowd teachers out of education budgets, and subject kids to "relentless marketing efforts," all to "capture a larger portion of the $10 trillion global education market" and sell families on what they said is the false premise that EdTech is effective and budget-friendly. 

The letter was prepared by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood's Children's Screen Time Action Network. Signatories  include 70 individuals and 36 advocacy groups including Center for Digital Democracy, the United Church of Christ, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.