Tata Consultancy Services, part of India’s largest multinational business group, recently announced that its Ignite My Future in School (IMFIS) STEM education program surpassed its five-year goal of connecting with one million U.S. K-12 students a year ahead of schedule after moving to a 100% distance learning format.
The move, brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, helped increase the equitable reach of the program to more than 20,000 teachers and 1.1 million students in 353 school districts throughout the U.S. By connecting students with high-quality opportunities to study computational thinking, TCS looks to boost disconnected and marginalized students’ aptitude in technology subjects.
Though the recent news bodes well for the IMFIS program created in partnership with Discovery Education, many schools are still struggling to adapt to the change in educational landscape brought about by a myriad of state and local public health regulations.
The challenge is only compounded by still more changes as communities work to send their children back to in-person learning in a variety of formats as case numbers drop and vaccination rates increase. K-12 educational IT departments, historically understaffed and underfunded, are finding themselves ill-equipped to address the endless combinations of environments, hardware, and connectivity required to support distance learning.
IT service providers have been stepping up and stepping in to assist school IT departments in supporting remote learning, from assisting in migration of distance learning infrastructure to distributed systems less vulnerable to congestion and downtime, to offering remote virtual support directly to students, parents, and educators. With millions of students living in locations without broadband internet access, providers are also partnering with mobile carriers like Verizon to provide alternative options to keep students connected to their teachers and classmates.
While many regions are beginning to implement a return to the classroom, others remain committed to distance learning or a hybrid model to maximize public health protections. It is clear that distance learning is here to stay, and with online education services potentially growing to a $325 billion industry by 2025, service providers will find themselves at the forefront of supporting and empowering students to learn and grow beyond the walls of a traditional classroom.