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Daily Dish: Internet Connectivity in Schools and Classrooms

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November 05, 2015 02:05 pm

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In the article The 5 reasons schools don’t have better internet connectivity, eSchool News explores responses from the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) 3rd Annual Infrastructure Survey on connectivity in U.S. districts. According to the survey, schools leaders named affordability as the top barrier to robust school connectivity. Although cost was rated the number one obstacle for the third consecutive year, the survey also showed some positive trends, with 36 percent of schools indicating a low monthly cost for internet connection, an increase from last year’s 27 percent.

Another challenge identified was improving network speed and capacity, with nearly a quarter of the school systems surveyed reaching only 10 percent of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s broadband connectivity goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. Some schools aren’t able to get access through their internet providers, with 12 percent of all school leaders and 14 percent of rural school system leaders responding that their internet providers are at capacity and cannot offer additional bandwidth.

Digital inequity is another issue revealed in the survey results, with three out of fourth school systems reporting that they do not have strategies for connecting students at home or out of school. “Overwhelmingly, 88 percent of school system leaders believe that cost was the biggest barrier for families who do not have internet access at home. Additionally, more than 40 percent of households do not have ready access to broadband service.” The Alliance has been working with superintendents to encourage the modernization of the FCC’s Lifeline program to provide low-income households with discounted broadband service, in an attempt to help close the “homework gap.” This gap arises between students who are able to access assignments and engage in supplementary learning outside of schools hours, and those who do not have the same capability.

EdTech Magazine offers strategies for schools that do have connectivity and are incorporating mobile devices into their systems. Specifically, the article focuses on the rollout of a new mobile application, providing school districts with an eight-step process to aid the deployment. The article encourages school management to develop use cases, formulate relevant metrics, set a schedule and pattern for updates, and consider issues around process transformation and ongoing lifecycle. Read more of the steps how to put them into action at: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2015/11/8-steps-designing-and-deploying-mobile-app-strategy

An example of the successful use of technology in the classroom to promote learning comes from York, Nebraska, where the York News-Times tells the story of classroom collaboration from one state to another. A class of fifth grade students in Nebraska engaged in a high-tech visit using Skype with another class in Seattle, Washington. As part of experience, the students did not know where the other classroom was located, and had to solve the mystery through a series of questions. Both classrooms had been reading the same book, and had sent questions and answers relating to the text back and forth before the Skype session made it possible for the students to meet each other. This exchange was part of The Global Read Aloud, a project started by a Wisconsin teacher that now has more than half-a-million students participating from around the world. Learn more: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/.

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Federal Communications Commission

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