For school districts, preparation for the school year begins long before the first day of school. As you work to set your district’s students and teachers up for success in the 2017-2018 school year, now’s a great time to consider their digital learning opportunities.
WHY HIGH-SPEED CONNECTION MATTERS
In today’s classrooms, basic Internet access is not enough. Digital learning usage grows each year, requiring students to have reliable, fast connections in order to prepare sufficiently for future challenges like college and the job market. Having high-speed access in school networks is now a necessity in every child’s education.
Though significant progress has been made in closing the Connectivity Gap in America’s public schools, there are still millions of students who are unprepared or underprepared for the world’s digital expectations due to a lack of high-speed Internet.
School districts play a central role in continuing to bridge that gap, which is why planning for greater connectivity this school year is so important.
If you are thinking about how to improve your district’s connectivity but are unsure about where to begin, here are three questions to help start the conversation.
What deals have Internet providers offered other school districts in your area?
Whether you’re inquiring for your own reference or to convince colleagues of the importance of a network upgrade, having an understanding of what your broadband costs could be is important. It may be that the pricing you have is on par with similarly sized districts in your area.
If it is higher, however, it may be time to search for a new provider or negotiate with your current one. You can find that comparative district pricing on our free price transparency tool, Compare & Connect. Having greater transparency is a critical step in getting the most cost-effective Internet solution possible.
Which digital learning tools do teachers in your district wish they could use?
Often, teachers have a vision for the types of technology tools and applications they’d like to offer students, but do not have the resources.
Opening up the conversation by asking teachers what would best equip their students for digital learning could help shape your decisions about how much broadband you need, the type of infrastructure that is required, and how to make sure that infrastructure is scalable. It can be helpful to know not only what teachers are using now, but what they are likely to use in the coming school years.
What are the particular barriers to higher, more reliable Internet speeds for your school district?
Gaps in school connectivity may exist for any number of reasons. In rural districts, building out the necessary infrastructure might be a daunting or unaffordable prospect. In districts with a high population of low-income students, the perceived cost of a connectivity upgrade may be a deterrent.
Identifying exactly what it is that has kept your district from getting the connectivity it needs can help you arrive at possible solutions. For example, some districts have benefitted from existing infrastructure build projects in their areas. Other districts concerned about bandwidth costs have received large subsidies from the E-rate program (and its state match programs), making high-speed Internet access an affordable–and sometimes free–opportunity.
Better connectivity is not just important; it is attainable. By getting this conversation started, you are setting your district up on a path of digital learning that could positively impact students for years to come.