Despite a brighter spotlight on digital equity, gaps still remain, including the troubling and persistent homework gap–but a newly-relaunched digital equity toolkit aims to highlight the important work districts across the nation are taking to address equity differences.
The 2014 Erate modernization helped a majority of schools meet the FCC’s short-term connectivity goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students, according to CoSN’s relaunched Digital Equity Initiative toolkit. But because classroom use of technology and digital resources is growing, a gap has continued to grow between students who have internet access at home and those who do not.
Libraries, connectivity, and more are big issues for IT professionals
Chief technology officers and IT professionals in the K-12 field have a lot on their collective plates these days, what with the continued proliferation of technology in their schools, new governmental programs and compliance requirements, and the push to effectively integrate their technology in the classroom. Here are five key trends that CTOs will be watching and reacting to in 2016:
The modernized E-rate program. Since it was established 18 years ago, the E-rate program has focused on connecting schools and libraries to the internet. Now, the FCC’s Second E-rate Modernization Order (adopted December 2014) will address the connectivity gap — particularly in rural areas — maximize high-speed connectivity purchasing options, extend the program’s budget through 2019, and increase the E-rate funding cap to $3.9 billion. Keith R. Krueger, CEO at CoSN – the Consortium for School Networking, said the fact that the modernized E-rate hones in on broadband and more robust networks is a net positive for K-12 IT departments and their CTOs. “Many networks for learning were designed under scarcity, and by managing bandwidth and telling people what they can’t do,” Krueger explained. “Now, we may be able to flip the conversation and look at what it takes to enable the learning that we truly envision.”…Read More
Self-provisioning internet can save districts big on monthly costs. So why haven’t more districts invested in it?
In Evan Marwell’s estimation, anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the nation’s K-12 school districts have self-provisioned their own fiber networks. In most cases, this CEO of San Francisco-based EducationSuperHighway says these districts opt to self-provision those networks because they can’t get internet access any other way.
“These are primarily rural schools that can’t get anyone else to bring cyber to them,” says Marwell, “and/or that couldn’t get a service provider to build a fiber network for them.”
Marwell says there are two major components that are needed to gain internet access: the access itself (i.e., the type that comes into either the district office or some other signal point within the district) and wide-area network (WAN) that connects that district office to all of the schools.…Read More
FCC commissioner seeks to protect the open internet, opening new broadband access opportunities for K-12
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing clear, sustainable, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet as a place for innovation and free expression. According to an FCC Fact Sheet the common-sense proposal would replace, strengthen, and supplement FCC rules struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit more than one year ago.
“An open Internet allows consumers to access the legal content and applications that they choose online, without interference from their broadband network provider,” the fact sheet states. “It fosters innovation and competition by ensuring that new products and services developed by entrepreneurs aren’t blocked or throttled by Internet service providers putting their own profits above the public interest. An open Internet allows free expression to blossom without fear of an Internet provider acting as a gatekeeper. And it gives innovators predictable rules of the road to deliver new products and services online.”
Evan Marwell, CEO of San Francisco-based EducationSuperHighway, says Chairman Wheeler’s proposals to protect the open internet include one key provision that will be very helpful to any school district or library that is working to bring fiber to their buildings. That is, by “ensuring fair access to poles and conduits under section 224,” the proposed rules will make it much simpler and more cost effective for school districts to obtain the rights of way they will need for fiber construction.…Read More
New rules encourage greater eRate transparency, volume purchasing
[Editor’s note: This is the sixth and final article in a series examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]
Starting next year, eRate applicants will be able to see how much other schools are paying for similar kinds of services, under one of many changes designed to keep costs down and simplify the nation’s school wiring program.
This greater transparency into eRate contracts could lead to better pricing on telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connectivity for U.S. schools and libraries.…Read More
School districts must use a single discount percentage for all of their schools, leading to more—or less—funding for some
[Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]
The FCC’s new eRate rules include important changes in how school districts must calculate their discount percentage. Some districts stand to benefit from these changes, while others could see their eRate funding reduced.
In this report, you’ll learn what these changes are—and how they’ll affect your schools.…Read More
New rules would eliminate eRate discounts on eMail, voice mail, and website hosting beginning next year
[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]
Beginning with the 2015 funding year, eMail, voice mail, and website hosting no longer will be eligible for eRate support. What will this change mean for schools—and what services exist to help schools reduce these costs?
The eRate offers discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connectivity to eligible schools and libraries. Now indexed to inflation, the program will supply more than $2.4 billion in discounts this year.…Read More
This newly created Strike Force, which is part of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, will almost certainly expend considerable resources ensuring that the procurement practices of schools receiving eRate funding comply with FCC rules.
To avoid a future encounter with the Strike Force, schools should re-evaluate their internal compliance programs—and here’s how.…Read More
New rules would eliminate eRate discounts on voice-related services within the next five years
[Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]
If the Federal Communications Commission has its way, the eRate no longer will support voice services within the next five years, including plain old telephone service, toll-free service, and even voice over IP (VoIP).
This change could have a dramatic effect on school district budgets—and it likely will force school business and IT leaders to reexamine their options for voice-related services.…Read More
No. 2 on our list of key ed-tech trends for the new school year is the dramatic overhaul of the eRate, the nation’s school wiring program
[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories examining five key ed-tech developments to watch for the 2014-15 school year. Our countdown continues tomorrow with No. 1.]
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced the most significant changes to the eRate, the $2.4 billion-a-year federal school connectivity program, in the program’s 17-year history.
The eRate offers discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications services, internet access, and “internal connections” (such as routers, switches, and Wi-Fi equipment) to eligible schools and libraries.…Read More