As a pandemic rages, schools across the U.S. have shut down, and students are struggling to continue their education at home. In Long Beach, California, a group of high schoolers is among the first to cleverly commandeer a popular piece of technology to regain communication with their teachers. advertisement advertisement This being 1919, the pandemic in question is the so-called Spanish flu. And the technology is the telephone. Though Alexander Graham Bell’s invention was over 40 years old, it was still in the process of changing the world: At the time, only around half of middle-income households had one, according to Claude S. Fischer’s America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940. The fact that California students were using it as an educational device was so novel that it made the papers. It did not, however, start an immediate trend of technology-enabled remote education. Actually, many local phone systems were unable to keep up with demand during the Spanish flu and resorted to running ads asking customers to make calls only in emergencies, which might help explain why the Long Beach experiment didn’t spread. The U.S. was spared any comparable national health crisis and widespread school closings until… Read full this story
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