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Need More Broadband? SETDA Thinks You Do.

On May 21, SETDA released The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs.  The report examines current trends driving the need for more broadband in teaching, learning and school operations; provides state and district examples of the impact of robust deployment of broadband; and offers specific recommendations for the broadband capacity needed to ensure all students have access to the tools and resources they need to be college and career ready.

Among the existing trends is the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the development of next generation assessments by PARCC and Smarter Balanced, which, as we all know, will be delivered online.  However, a key point of the report is not that the online assessments are coming so schools need more broadband. Instead,the point is that the online assessments are coming, AND schools are shifting from print to digital content that includes everything from text to streaming video and video conferencing, AND schools are using data systems for core administrative purposes, AND there is an enormous growth in online learning, AND students and educators are using social networking for communication, collaboration and other educational purposes, AND these activities are happening in school and out of school.  AND, by the way, trend lines for all these activities are resembling hockey sticks.  Taken together, the need for a bigger and bigger pipe coming into schools and homes is obvious and a response is imperative.

How big a pipe?  Given these existing and growing trends and the experiences of leading states and districts, SETDA recommends that schools will need external Internet connections to the Internet Service Provider of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students and staff by 2014-15 and of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff by 2017-18.  The report has three other recommendations, including that federal, state and local policymakers ensure access to robust bandwidth outside of schools, that states provide leadership in the development and implementation of programs to provide adequate and equitable broadband to schools, homes and publicly accessible institutions such as libraries and community centers, and that the federal government increase funding options to provide bandwidth to states, districts, schools, homes and public institutions.

Take a look at the report and let us know what you think.  How will your schools measure up to the recommended goals?

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