But school networks must be equipped to support new technologies if educators and students are to realize the full benefits of these changes—and new data suggest they aren’t keeping up.
A recent survey by Enterasys, a network security company, collected information from schools to understand how many plan to adopt new teaching and learning strategies, including online assessments and flipped classrooms. The survey also asked schools if their current network infrastructure is prepared to handle the demands of these new changes.
Twenty-one percent of schools currently use digital textbooks, 36.5 percent say they will implement digital texts in the next three months to a year, and 42.5 percent say they have no plans to begin using digital textbooks.
But when it comes to infrastructure, just 26 percent of schools said they could easily move to digital textbooks with their current network infrastructure. The rest—nearly three-fourths—said they could possibly move to digital textbooks, or could move with difficulty.
Respondents were evenly split when it came to evaluating their school network’s ability to handle video content for classroom use, deeming it either inadequate for current and short-term needs, or adequate for the foreseeable future.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that schools must monitor student network and internet access, and 84 percent of those surveyed said they can monitor online activities. Seven percent said they are not capable of monitoring student activities at this point, and 9 percent said they are unsure.
Twenty-seven percent said that, with their current network infrastructure, it is either impossible or difficult to customize a student’s network access based on certain factors, such as grade level. Sixteen percent said they do not know if such customization is possible.
The Common Core State Standards have amped up the call for online assessment systems, and 46 percent of schools reported that they plan to use online assessments as their only form of testing within the next five years. But 15 percent said it is either impossible or difficult to move to online assessments with their current infrastructure.
Nearly half—43 percent—are either using a flipped classroom model or plan to try a flipped model. In the next five years, 13 percent said they plan to completely adopt a flipped model. Only 12.8 percent said their school’s current network infrastructure will definitely allow them to move to the flipped model.
One-third of survey participants currently use social media in the classroom for teaching purposes, and 18 percent said they plan to use it within the year.
Facebook (30 percent) and Google+ (32 percent) are used the most, followed by Twitter (26 percent) and Pinterest (20 percent). Teachers also use StumbleUpon, Gaggle, Edmodo, and Schoology.