E-rate spending reveals schools’ tech evolution

Schooling has changed in many ways in the last two years, but while remote learning, mask policies and increased federal spending in education have gotten lots of attention, another trend has gone nearly unnoticed.

But thanks to the availability of detailed E-rate data, this sea change is now being recognized. E-rate is the federal government program that provides discounts of up to 90 percent for schools and libraries to bring high-speed internet into their building(s) and create internal networks for online access. For years, E-rate applicants have leveraged E-rate to bring fast internet service into their organizations, cobbling together funds and seeking out providers. But today, a new trend is emerging—more funds are being requested to improve internal networks, allowing the flood of devices now used in schools and libraries to effectively get online.

E-rate funding requested in Category One, which includes data transmission services and internet access, has declined for five straight years, largely a function of increasing marketplace competition and decreasing per-megabit prices.  But funding requests for Category Two services have soared in the same time period. Category Two funds can be spent on wireless access points, network switches, data cabling and other resources essential for on-campus connections.…Read More

High-speed internet is a basic necessity–not a luxury–when it comes to learning

Americans overwhelmingly believe that high-speed internet access is a basic necessity, according to a new survey from Kajeet. Additionally, this need for connectivity is not new, as nearly 75 percent of respondents believed high-speed internet was important even before the pandemic began more than two years ago. The survey also finds that 64 percent of U.S. adults are worried about their ability to pay for a high-speed internet connection at home, drawing attention to the opportunity gap and homework gap many students face.

The digital divide–the gap between people who have access to modern information and communications technology and those who do not – is a major issue. Access to the internet has become a necessity in almost all aspects of life today, including education, healthcare, remote work, etc. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), however, an estimated 14.5 million Americans lack home broadband access. For these 14.5 million people, not having access to the internet is a disadvantage.

High-Speed Internet is a Necessity, Not a Luxury…Read More

4 ways to support ELLs in post-pandemic learning

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted learning in ways educators and policymakers are still working to understand. But while all students felt the impact, certain historically underserved student groups–including English language learners (ELLs)–were disproportionately affected.

During virtual learning, ELLs didn’t have access to many of the in-school resources they typically use and need to learn best. Many student groups suffered from limited or no access to reliable high-speed internet, appropriate technology devices to use for virtual and hybrid learning, and unpredictable family situations that arose as a result of the pandemic.

While educators focus on addressing pandemic-related learning loss and closing existing learning gaps that grew wider during the pandemic, focusing on ELLs is critical.…Read More

7 reasons E-rate funding is critical for schools and libraries

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.”…Read More

4 things we need to realize about digital equity

As COVID made quite painfully clear, student access to reliable high-speed internet and engaging digital tools is essential. But many students don’t have access to these resources at school, at home, or both, leading to larger questions about the role of digital equity and student success during–and after–the pandemic.

A new CoSN study, supported by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, gives educators and policymakers a detailed view of students’ at-home learning experiences during the pandemic.

“Digital equity is not a new topic for CoSN. Since our founding, we have focused on addressing the digital divide and ensuring that fast connectivity, devices and equitable use happen in all classrooms. But since March 2020, the imperative of this outside-of-school challenge has become readily apparent to all. The Homework Gap was a chasm for millions of students and educators as the shift to remote learning occurred,” write Keith Krueger, CoSN’s CEO, and Steve Langford, chair of CoSN’s Board of Directors and the CIO of Oregon’s Beaverton School District, in the report’s introduction.…Read More

Savvas Learning Company Teams Up with EveryoneOn to Provide Free WiFi to 100 Families to Support Digital Learning at Home

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Savvas enables teachers to better connect with students by helping to close the digital divide

PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY — May 5, 2021 — To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, Savvas Learning Company, a K-12 next-generation learning solutions leader, has partnered with EveryoneOn.org to honor teachers by helping close the digital divide for students from low-income families. 

As part of its #SavvasThanks campaign for Teacher Appreciation Week 2021, Savvas is making a donation to EveryoneOn.org that will provide free high-speed Internet service to 100 families with school-aged students who are in need of reliable WiFi in their homes for digital learning. EveryoneOn.org is a nonprofit that works to connect low-income families to affordable Internet service, computers, and other digital resources.…Read More

3 ways to stay connected when going remote

You’ve just made a heroic effort to rapidly transition your teaching to online delivery in response to school closures. It’s important now to take a moment to consider how your students are adapting, and the equity and access issues resulting from this change in delivery.

For students learning remotely at home, these challenges may include limited access to computers, high-speed internet, campus support services, and a lack of social connection with peers and instructors.

Related content: 10 resources to help everyone navigate online learning…Read More

How two districts tackle the digital equity gap

Students expect easy and immediate access to technology tools and high-speed internet in schools, and recent research shows that 99 percent of school districts are offering enough bandwidth to support digital and mobile learning in classrooms. But the digital equity gap isn’t so easily solved.

While many schools have reliable high-speed internet access, many students leave school and go home to unreliable internet access, or no internet access at all. This means that even if students have a school-issued take-home device, or a device of their own at home, they have no internet.

Some districts are hoping to close this digital equity gap by giving students take-home Wi-Fi hotspots with filtered, district-provided internet access. Kajeet‘s SmartSpot is one such example. Kajeet’s SmartSpots are filtered mobile hotspot devices designed to give students safe wireless internet connections. Kajeet partners with five major U.S. wireless networks to offer coverage.…Read More

3 tips for jumpstarting your district’s connectivity discussion

This year’s E-rate cycle may be over, but in order to be well prepared for the next one, now is the time to start the connectivity conversation with your school district. In today’s classrooms, high-speed internet is no longer an option; it has become a necessity.

Digital learning helps students grasp concepts more fully, and not having access to the wealth of information found in online videos, apps, and curriculum puts these students at an immediate disadvantage to their connected peers. As schools increasingly turn to digital learning, all classrooms must have reliable, fast internet connections in order to prepare students sufficiently for future challenges like college and the job market.

While dramatic progress has been made in closing the connectivity gap in our public schools, there are still 6.5 million K-12 students who lack access to high-speed classroom internet, leaving them unprepared or underprepared for the world’s digital expectations.…Read More

Getting started: Your E‑rate cheat sheet

It’s that time of year again–the federal E-rate program is getting underway, and with program updates and refreshes in recent years, you might need a primer on this year’s program.

The E-rate program helps schools and libraries access high-speed internet and telecommunications at prices that won’t break the bank.

At the end of 2014, the Federal Communications Commission voted to increase funding to the federal E-rate program by $1.5 billion. The vote brought the annual program cap from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion.…Read More