Education technology

Facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources

Without Net Neutrality, How Would Internet Companies Treat K-12 Districts?

One of the main fears that school officials have about curtailing “net neutrality” is that internet service companies will have new powers to throttle or block the flow of online content that serves as academic lifeblood for many districts. But gauging whether those worries are justified or overblown requires a lot of speculation about industry behavior, and how it would apply to schools. Chris Lewis, a vice president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said dire scenarios envisioned by some school officials are not unrealistic.

CoSN: Aggressive Net Neutrality Plan Raises Troubling Questions for Schools

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) CEO Keith Krueger issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality plans:

Will Reversal of FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Policy Help or Hurt Schools?

Backers of a new plan to upend “net neutrality” policies tout the proposal as a free market approach to internet oversight—one that will encourage an abundance of web content delivery, innovation, and investment, with no more government regulation than is necessary. But some school officials and education organizations are deeply skeptical that the plan will protect educators’ access to online sources, or nurture innovation by K-12 entrepreneurs.  In K-12 circles, two of the biggest worries about Pai’s proposal boil down to the following:

When Students Can’t Get Broadband, Career Success Proves Elusive

For many university students, high-speed internet access on campus is as expected as sidewalks and electricity. With a large number of college curriculums and tools dependent on these digital connections, what happens for students who don’t have regular access to high-speed internet? According to new research from the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) presented to the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC), the lack of widely available broadband internet access in Florida is correlated to a smaller percentage of citizens with college degrees or certificates.

Strong Gains in School Broadband Connectivity, But Challenges Remain

The majority of school districts today (85 percent) fully meet the Federal Communications Commission’s short-term goal for broadband connectivity of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. However, recurring costs remain the most significant barrier for schools in their efforts to increase connectivity. Collecting feedback from 445 large, small, urban and rural school district leaders nationwide, the fifth annual survey examines the current state of technology infrastructure in US K-12 districts. (The FCC has used past findings to modernize and expand funding of E-rate.)

Online schooling: Who is harmed and who is helped?

[Commentary] Online courses have the potential to improve instruction at every level of education. Adaptive online courses can allow students to learn at their own pace, with material adjusting to fit the needs of both advanced and remedial learners. Online courses can also open up more curricular offerings in schools that lack specialists, such as those in rural areas. Online courses are particularly attractive to school and district leaders looking for ways to trim costs.

Modernizing the E-rate Program for Schools and Libraries

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau presents this report on voice services in the schools and libraries universal service support mechanism (more commonly known as the E-rate program), as directed by the FCC in its 2014 E-rate Order. During the phasedown of voice services which began in funding year 2015, fewer applicants have applied for voice services, though most of the applicants who no longer apply for voice services continue to seek E-rate support for other services. Further, the majority of the applicants who did not receive E-rate support for any service other than voice services in funding year 2014 now receive E-rate support for services other than voice.

White House announces new tech jobs initiative

The White House will put at least $200 million in grant funding towards bolstering STEM and Computer Science education “particularly among historically underserved groups,” the administration announced. The minimum $200 million commitment from the Department of Education is supposed to bolstered by private sector contributions that senior administration officials say will be announced later the week of Sept 25. The money will be available to schools across the country to bolster their science and technology programs, at the start of the 2018 fiscal year. A senior administration official said that the White House had been having conversations with school superintendents and governors across the country, encouraging them to take advantage of the funding.

A majority of high schools in the US do not currently offer computer science courses and 40 percent do not offer physics courses. The administration’s push comes amid continued calls from technology companies for more skills training and reformed worker visas to fill high-demand technology and engineering roles. A senior administration official told reporters on a call that the initiative was born out of input from such companies seeking more STEM workers.

Federal E-Rate Program Dramatically Expands High-Speed Internet Access for Schools

In 2013, only 4 million students had access to broadband that provided internet fast enough to allow for digital learning in the classroom. Now, four years later, that number has catapulted to 39.2 million, thanks to the modernization of a federal program and a broad bipartisan coalition of federal and state lawmakers and policymakers dedicated to the cause.

"America made a historic promise to our students in 2013 to connect every school district to high-speed internet," said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. "We've made great progress since then,” he said. “However, our work is far from over. It is critical that federal and state leaders, schools, and service providers continue the hard work necessary to close the connectivity gap." But that gap now spans just 6.5 million students and it’s expected to be eliminated by 2020 based on current growth models. Under the Obama administration, in 2014, the Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize its E-Rate program, which provides funding for schools and libraries to connect to the Internet. The commission approved a $1.5 billion boost in funding and set new standards in an effort to expand access, including setting minimum recommended bandwidth levels, requiring fiber connections to every school in order to allow bandwidth to grow over time, and setting up wireless connections in every classroom to support “one-device-per-student” programs.

2017 State of the States Report

More than 39 million students in America now have access to high-speed Internet at school, a 5.1 million student increase over last year. This research shows that 94 percent of school districts nationwide now meet the minimum 100 kilobits per second (kbps) per student goal set by the Federal Communications Commission in 2014. The report confirms that America continues to make extraordinary progress in narrowing the K-12 digital divide. Overall, 39.2 million students, 2.6 million teachers, and 74,000 schools are now achieving the minimum connectivity goal that gives students equal access to digital learning opportunities. However, 6.5 million students are on the other side of the digital divide without access to high-speed Internet. A divide that is particularly wide in the 1,587 rural K-12 schools that don’t yet have the infrastructure necessary to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn.

“America made a historic promise to our students in 2013 to connect every school district to high-speed Internet,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “We’ve made great progress since then; however, our work is far from over. It is critical that federal and state leaders, schools, and service providers continue the hard work necessary to close the connectivity gap.” Governors and state leaders across the country have taken notice and played a crucial role this year in bringing high-speed learning opportunities to every classroom. Today, a total of 46 governors have committed to upgrading their schools for the 21st century. Taking advantage of E-rate Modernization, governors have allocated nearly $200 million in state matching funds for special construction that can help connect the hardest-to-reach-schools.