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Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
Explore the full series of eSchool News podcasts hosted by Kevin Hogan—created to keep you on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
FCC approves $9 broadband subsidy for low-income households
Expansion of the Lifeline program will affect more than 13 million Americans
A recently-approved expansion of an FCC program will grant millions of low-income households a discount on internet access in an effort to help close what is becoming known as the digital divide — the lack of reliable high-speed internet access for lower income families.
FCC commissioners voted on the proposed expansion 3 to 2 along party lines, as expected. Eligible households (those at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty level) will now be able to apply the $9.25 subsidy to broadband, wireless, or a bundled voice and internet package. Previously, the program, called Lifeline, was only applicable to phone service.
According to the FCC, nearly all households with annual incomes of more than $150,000 currently have high-speed internet; by contrast, nearly half of those with incomes less than $25,000 claim the same.…Read More
What happens when student hackers shut down a district’s internet?
Denial of service attacks can shut down internet access and leave IT teams powerless
When Jeff McCune noticed that his district’s 500 Mbps internet connection was full, he knew something was amiss. When he investigated further and saw that the Internet protocol (IP) addresses were coming in from China, Australia, and the Netherlands, McCune realized that the problem was more than just a random overload or ISP outage.
“I was seeing 550 Mbps of traffic coming from a single link and that pushed our usage up over the 10 percent cushion” allowed by its main service provider, said McCune, a network analyst with St. Charles Community Unit School District (CUSD) 303 in St. Charles, Ill. “There was no way anyone from China would surf the website of a school district in Midwestern America that hard.”
To McCune, it appeared the CUSD was being hit by a full-blown Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The hackers cut off the entire district’s internet access for four hours at a time and then repeated the process 10 more times over the following six weeks during the fall of 2014.…Read More
Flipping the classroom when home access is a problem
A lack of reliable internet access at home can make flipping a challenge, but by no means an impossibility
Ed. note: Jess Peterson will co-present a related session, “Flipping the Classroom in Low-Socioeconomic Schools,” at this year’s FETC conference in Orlando, on Friday Jan. 15.
Ask any educator, and they’ve probably at least heard of flipping the classroom. There are articles for days about the benefits and rewards to be reaped from flipping. Plenty of teachers have given it a go, or at least considered it. Too many teachers have ruled it out on account of their students’ lack of access.
It’s true that our students come from all walks of life. We see the ones with the new Jordans or the latest iPhone, and their peers wearing the old hand-me-down sweater. All of them are our future. All of them are entitled to the best education possible. Only some of them are equipped with the means to achieve their fullest potential.…Read More
Bringing wi-fi, and parent engagement, to the community
Kent School District’s new kiosks are bringing the SIS and free wi-fi to the community
Ed. note: Joelle Bejarano will present a session related to this topic, called “Touch-Interactive and Digital Signage Displays for Parent and Community Engagement in Education,” at DSE 2016 on Wednesday, March 16 in Las Vegas. For more information, visit www.dse2016.com.
As the typical school day ends at Kent School District, in Washington state, many of our 27,000 students file onto school buses for the ride home. For some students, leaving their school’s campus means leaving internet access behind – and all that comes with it. As a forward-thinking, technology-driven district, we’ve long considered ourselves pioneers in bringing technology to students, and we’re proud of our mature, successful one-to-one laptop initiative. However, there still exists a digital divide to conquer.
Kent’s success in today’s digital world is, in part, reliant on electronic resources and timely, effective communications. This includes the delivery of educational programming, access to online tools, and leveraging technology to aid in the overall learning experience. Our laptop initiative provides the hardware and software for secondary students to complete homework assignments and collaborate digitally. But how do those students and their families take advantage of these tools if they’re not connected to the internet before and after school?…Read More
Overcoming Barriers to 1:1 Implementation
Dr. Adams’ conviction, vision, and energy will inspire you in this quick overview of challenges and approaches that worked at CVUSD, including how they brought internet access to every student.…Read More
Are digital textbooks worth it?
Early digital textbook adopters share their pros and cons
It has been nearly three years since the FCC and Education Secretary Arne Duncan rolled out the Digital Textbook Playbook and challenged schools to go digital within five years. It’s safe to say schools are not there yet. While going digital looks certain, arrival in two years looks doubtful.
The potential benefits for schools transitioning to digital curriculum—specifically, replacing their print textbooks with digital ones—remain compelling. As schools move to the Common Core, and Pluto shifts in and out of planetary status, information can be updated on the fly. Interactive quizzes, comments, and discussions live within the text itself. The addition of video, audio and interactivity allows for multi-modal, personalized, accessible and interactive learning; it’s lightweight for backpacks; and there are cost savings down the road from not printing.
Of course, widespread adoption relies on a robust infrastructure. Wireless bandwidth must be able to handle the load, and filtering must let advanced material through. Students need reliable devices at school and home, and the content needs to be designed for whatever platform they might have. Importantly, teachers need time to learn a new way of running a classroom.…Read More
F.C.C. is set to regulate net access
The Federal Communications Commission appears poised to pass a controversial set of rules that broadly create two classes of Internet access, one for fixed-line providers and the other for the wireless Net, reports the New York Times. The proposed rules of the online road would prevent fixed-line broadband providers like Comcast and Qwest from blocking access to sites and applications. The rules, however, would allow wireless companies more latitude in putting limits on access to services and applications. Before a vote set for Tuesday, two Democratic commissioners said Monday that they would back the rules proposed by the F.C.C. chairman, Julius Genachowski, which try to satisfy both sides in the protracted debate over so-called network neutrality. But analysts said the debate would soon resume in the courts, as challenges to the rules are expected in the months to come. Net neutrality, broadly speaking, is an effort to ensure equal access to Web sites and cutting-edge online services. Mr. Genachowski said these proposed rules aimed to both encourage Internet innovation and protect consumers from abuses.
“These rules fulfill a promise to the future–to companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages,” Mr. Genachowski said in remarks prepared for the commission’s meeting on Tuesday in Washington. At present, there are no enforceable rules “to protect basic Internet values,” he added.
Many Internet providers, developers and venture capitalists have indicated that they would accept the proposal by Mr. Genachowski, which Rebecca Arbogast, a regulatory analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, a financial services firm, said “is by definition a compromise.”…Read More
A simple fix for internet censorship in schools
Schools and libraries are hurting students by setting up heavy-handed web filtering policies that block access to potentially educational sites, writes Computerworld blogger Mitch Wagner. Instead, educators should trust teachers and librarians to oversee schools’ internet access. So says Craig Cunningham, a professor at National-Louis University, with whom Wagner talked about internet filtering in schools. Web filtering software should be configured so that, when a student stumbles across a site that is blocked, the teacher or librarian can make a judgment whether the content is appropriate for study, and if it is, the teacher or librarian can let the site through, Cunningham said. “If a student tries to show something that’s part of a presentation and it’s blocked, the teacher types a password and everyone sees it,” he said. “Why should teachers not be in charge of what to teach?” Ultimately, the purpose of schools should be to teach students to live in a democratic society, and that means teaching critical thinking and showing students controversial web sites, Cunningham said. That includes sites that web filters might classify as hate speech, or sites discussing same-sex marriage—both for and against. Students need to access this information under the guidance of teachers and librarians, in the process of learning how to think about these issues……Read More
Broadband access gap remains large
Roughly 40 percent of Americans do not have high-speed internet access at home, according to new Commerce Department figures that reinforce what some educators believe is causing some students to fall behind.
“There’s lots of talk about digital literacy. That’s something that should be built into the curriculum,” said Charles Benton, chairman and CEO of the Benton Foundation.
“The three R’s alone are not sufficient for today’s needs. We’ve got to be using today’s tools. It’s an old point, but we’ve got to keep beating that drum until we get the funding.”…Read More