Tag: Americas

07
Oct
2020
Posted in internet

America’s internet wasn’t prepared for online school

It’s not uncommon for households in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to lose internet for a full day. The last time it happened, back in the spring, Christina Rothermel-Branham connected herself (a professor at Northeastern State University, teaching online) and her son (a kindergartener at Heritage Elementary, learning online) to the hotspot on her phone. Luckily, nobody had a Zoom call scheduled that day; worksheets and YouTube videos proceeded as planned.

Rothermel-Branham’s son is now in first grade. He has multiple Zoom sessions per day and takes online classes through Outschool. She doesn’t know what they’ll do the next time their house loses service. She hopes her phone’s hotspot will be able to handle both of their video calls at once — but she’s worried that it won’t.

Rothermel-Branham’s son is one of the millions of students around the US who are currently taking some (or all) of their classes remotely. That’s been the status quo since the spring for many districts, which moved instruction online to limit the spread of COVID-19. The first few weeks of school were difficult for rural families. Teachers struggled to reach disconnected students, using phone calls, social media, and text messages. But they only had to finish the spring, and many hoped that by the start of the new school year in the fall, things would be better.

Almost seven months later, rural districts around the country are still scrambling to accommodate all of their pupils. It’s become clear to teachers, administrators, and community members that the digital divide is too big for schools to bridge on their own. The infrastructure needed to teach rural students remotely would require systemic change — it would require government assistance. Months into the pandemic, educators say they still don’t have what they need.

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06
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Will Esports Be America’s New Pastime?

Esports is an international spectator sport based on popular video games like Fortnite and League of Legends. These titles alone have generated billions of dollars. Game companies like Activision, Epic Games, and Riot Games, and their licensees (the owners and broadcasters) are producing televised, athlete-driven live entertainment, just like traditional sports. The video game industry as a whole generates more revenue than movies and music put together, over $120 billion according to Neilson Superdata. That dwarfs the pro football, which generates a measly 11 billion. 

Compared to America’s most popular pro sports, football, basketball and baseball, Esports is small, but it now ranks with popular sports entertainment like wrestling. In 2019, according to esportsobserver.com, over $211M was awarded from over 4,000 Esports tournaments, an increase of 29% from 2018’s $163M prize pool. Professional players, individually or as a team, compete in an often bracket style organized tournament.  

There are many different genres of Esports. The major genres are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), fighting, racing, sport games, card games, battle royales, real-time strategy (RTS), and first-person shooter (FPS). Many of these genres are widely popular, regardless of the devices they can be played on. We will be including mobile and virtual reality (VR) games as part of Esports. All of these genres have their own audiences, but the quickest growing genre is MOBAs, such as League of Legends.