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School Boards: 7 Steps to Supporting Digital Learning

7 steps school board members can take to accelerate their district's digital future
Effective school board members focus on what is best for all students. They prioritize student achievement, drive continuous improvement and implement policies that will ensure success for all. As digital learning transforms education across the country, how can board members ensure that their policies and budget decisions support digital learning opportunities and the robust infrastructure needed to support it?

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1. Understand Why High Speeds Matter

The infrastructure must facilitate students having ubiquitous access to broadband so that they are learning skills for tomorrow but not hindered by with dial-up speeds from the past. Digital learning opportunities now extend far beyond online testing and digitized versions of textbooks. Cloud-based services and applications such as learning software, educational resources, student information, state reporting, and computer-based testing are all basic requirements of 21st-century schools and depend on high-speed networks.

2. Familiarize Yourself with Your District’s Network

High quality, high-speed technology, and infrastructure systems are essential to advance digital learning in a school district. With a good grasp of the fundamentals of a district’s network setup, school board members will be better prepared to communicate with their superintendent and tech leaders. Get started with our blog: Network essentials for school board members.

3. Know If Your Infrastructure Is Future Ready

Today, 99% of America’s schools have enough Internet connectivity to make digital learning available in their classrooms, but 1% of students are still on the wrong side of the digital divide. If your district hasn’t already conducted a full Future Ready Infrastructure Assessment, you can begin to gauge your readiness for digital learning, by asking your technology leaders three simple questions:

  • Can all students do online testing simultaneously?
  • Can we add devices without worrying about reliable Internet access?
  • Can teachers easily integrate digital learning initiatives?

4. Collaborate with Your Superintendent and Tech Leaders

Both school boards and superintendents have critical leadership roles that support the transition to robust digital learning environments. Board policies and budget decisions will significantly impact learning opportunities, so effective collaboration between these stakeholders is paramount. The National School Boards Association provides a free set of planning tools that can help teams of educators develop a common vision of how they can work together by focusing on ownership, effective communication, and continuous improvement. Read On the Same Page 2.0.

5. Develop a Shared Vision for Digital Learning

It is vital that school districts set systemic plans around the effective use of technology that prepares students for success in college, career, and citizenship. While many schools have advanced digital learning programs, many still struggle to articulate a compelling vision for how their students will benefit from the technology that has been made available. With personalized student learning at the center, The Future Ready Framework provides a roadmap to support districts in their digital conversion.

6. Plan for Growing Bandwidth

While the cost of K-12 Internet access has declined 90% since 2013, it is vital that school boards understand the need to invest in their broadband infrastructure continually. In today’s technology-driven classroom, the demand for bandwidth is growing at 50% every year; driven by the fact that once digital learning enters a school, teachers find more ways to enhance the learning experience with technology. You can view your district’s connectivity details and compare with similarly sized district by visiting Compare & Connect K-12.

7. Be Prepared to Invest

Reaching the FCC’s 100 kbps per student goal has opened the door to digital learning opportunities, but enabling digital learning in every classroom, every day requires more bandwidth and continued investment. School board members must now embrace and advocate for the FCC’s 1 Mbps per student of Internet access goal. Doing so will ensure their districts continually improve the level and quality of digital learning opportunities in the classroom.

EducationSuperHighway was founded by a parent and school board member who saw the need to bring national attention to the classroom connectivity gap. Since then we’ve provided free technical assistance and tools to support hundreds through the process of upgrading. Find out more.

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