Elevating Virtual Education – update
[San Juan Silver Stage | December 2020 | By Kathryn R. Burke]
Interview with Becky Mashburn, Communications and Marketing Manager at Elevate Internet & DMEA.
KRB: Due to increasing Covid cases, more schools may have to switch to Virtual learning. I’ve heard complaints from people in Montrose County that they still can’t get your service.
BM: Correct, Elevate is not yet available in every area of DMEA’s service territory. This is a frustrating reality of building a network from the ground up.
KRB: Have you increased your service area since August?
BM: Yes, very much so. We have added the following new areas over the summer:
- Chipeta Subzone – July
- Brown Ranch Subzone – August
- American Village Subzone – September
- Fairview Grant Zone – next week!
And just recently, we announced service to the Iron Horse Subdivision. You can see a map of these zones and others where we offer service here – https://join.elevatefiber.com/front_end/zones.
KRB: What ones and when will others be added?
BM: On that same page, https://join.elevatefiber.com/front_end/zones, if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a slate of zones in orange/yellow. These are all the zones included in the City of Montrose partnership mentioned earlier, along with an additional grant zone. Construction crews are currently in Fairview and then will be moving onto Iron Horse. Our goal is to work through these zones and complete construction by next spring.
KRB: Are you still offering free (or low-cost – explain) installation to student homes where students may be limited to digital learning?
BM: We offered a second round of this to families and educators in September. Our support included a free installation ($100 value) and one month of free internet service (either 150 Mpbs or 1,000 Mbps). Along with that, we also asked each person who signed up for service to give us the name and school of an educator they would like to support and we sent that educator a $50 VISA card to help with some of the added costs COVID-19 brought to their classroom. It is no longer available; however, we will reevaluate the support in the event schools close.
KRB: At what (download/upload) speeds?
BM: Our speeds are 150 Mbps/150 Mpbs and 1,000 Mbps/1,000 Mbps.
KRB: How are you helping local families to access Elevate?
BM: It sounds too simple, but the number one thing we are doing to provide access to Elevate—truly high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet—is building out Elevate’s network to more and more homes and businesses.
KRB: Many teachers report working long hours and being exhausted from the combination of: lesson planning and class prep; learning new teaching methods; mastering digital technology that seems to be constantly evolving; teaching the actual lesson; learning new ways to interact with students and “read” their understanding of lessons when distanced and/or masked; and follow-up such as grading, reviewing, and working directly with students needing additional help.
How are you helping teachers?
BM: We provided the same offer referenced above on the question: Are you still offering free (or low-cost – explain) installation to student homes where students may be limited to digital learning?
We provided the same offer referenced above on the question: Are you still offering free (or low-cost – explain) installation to student homes where students may be limited to digital learning?
KRB: Have you considered some type of instruction to help technologically-challenged teachers (usually older ones)?
BM: We have not. However, I believe the school district (at least in Montrose) set up a program for teachers to become Google certified and serve as tech leads for their peers. Please don’t quote me on this as, I’m not a school district representative, but it might be worth connecting with someone at MCSD.
KRB: What suggestions can you offer to help ease the transition as more schools have to adapt to virtual learning?
BM: Whether it’s teachers and students adapting to online learning, employees adapting to remote work, or families adapting to virtual reunions, I think the suggestions remain the same: There will be plenty of mistakes, frustrations, technical difficulties, and deer-in-the-headlight moments. So, give grace; to others and yourself