Reliable high-speed internet access isn’t a “nice to have” – it’s absolutely essential for teaching and learning. Without reliable connectivity, students and teachers lose access to the digital tools and resources that make learning engaging and relevant.
In its annual E-rate Trends Survey, E-rate compliance services firm Funds For Learning takes a look at the federal E-rate funding landscape and analyzes how the funding stream supports learning in schools and libraries.
“This year’s Trends Report indicates that the E-rate program is solid and steady,” said John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning. “While connectivity needs continue to evolve, the Trends Report tells a very important story about E-rate as a vital resource for schools and libraries. The past two school years have showed us that school communities depend upon broadband access and network security.”
Here are responses from educators regarding just how critical high-speed internet access is to their students and communities. Many commenters noted the need for more support for rural and low-income schools, as well as the increasing need for cybersecurity measures.
1. Our school could not serve students beyond paper/localized resources without the help of E-rate funding. The growth in digital content and electronic activities for core instruction is creating relevance to how we educate and new purpose as to what it means to be educated.
2. Our library’s Wi-Fi connection is extremely important in our rural community. In our area, there are many dead spots where Wi-Fi cannot be received and Internet providers are sparse. Our community depends on our Wi-Fi connection and digital devices for their digital needs, which are increasingly important in daily life. Access to a reliable Internet connection is no longer a luxury–most jobs, courses, and other aspects of life are accessed via the Internet.
3. If it were not for the E-rate program, our rural library would not be able to provide Internet access to a large majority of people in the area who cannot afford Internet and/or the equipment associated with the service. It is vitally important for us to be able to offer this
4. In this day, schools need help with combating cyber attacks of all kinds. Most schools barely have enough technicians and cannot afford a cyber engineer. Help with cyber protection as a service would be very useful.
5. Please consider funding Broadband connection from home as an extension for school use outside school hours. Many students are now expected to research and connect to Internet applications to expand on daily instructions. Federals fund assisted with a 1-to-1 devices in VA. I know if Internet for home-use is accepted through E-rate funding having broadband for all will become a reality in VA much sooner than later. I ask again to please consider. “Together We Shine Brighter!”
6. The ability to use E-rate funds to have home Internet installed for students [who] can not afford would be huge. We have used federal stimulus money to support hotspots but when there are multiple students online and/or depending upon location cellular coverage does not provide the needed connection to actively engage in learning.
7. We need in home Internet and device support for our families. The majority of curriculum is serviced online and a great percentage of our families are economically disadvantaged so find it difficult to support their children. School District Technology departments are severely understaffed. Support for additional Technology Staff and managed support is very much needed to meet the needs of staff and students. School Districts find it extremely difficult to stay up with the trends and technology advancements.