Only 15 percent of school districts can currently meet the FCC’s recommendation of one megabit per second per student. That’s according to an article recently published in THE Journal by CoSN’s CEO Keith Kruger and project director Marie Bjerede. Is this goal too lofty? Do schools need that much bandwidth? The answer is, yes and the need will only increase. For example, in rural communities of Alaska two out of three schools (66%) rely on broadband to provide their students with educational opportunities through distance learning, which only increases bandwidth needs. But as the 15 percent shows, this is not just an Alaska issue, it is a national education issue.
We must recognize school districts’ needs across the country and help them meet the demands of their students. If we don’t, the opportunities afforded to those districts who can meet the demand will greatly surpass those other districts and put students at a disadvantage, creating a more prominent digital divide.
So what are districts to do?
In many cases carefully monitoring networks to see use trends is smart. CoSN’s CEO and project director said in their recent article that it is not uncommon to see “growth of 60 percent every year.” This means that districts must be prepared to continue to add bandwidth each year. With more and more opportunities becoming available for students like learning analytics, collaboration with video conferencing and online assessment that require Internet connection, the demand increases.
The advancements in education are exciting, and as education leaders it is our responsibility to help prepare for this digital future. I’m excited to see the dialogue between education leaders about the digital transformation as we all work together to deliver high speed broadband to students across the country regardless of location.
Please share your comments below. You can also chat with me on Twitter at @plloyd.