Can your internet service provider help close the digital divide?

Darriale Bradley and her family spent many nights in the parking lot of fast food restaurants, but not because of the food. It was for the wi-fi. For Darriale, sitting in the parking lot was the only way she could do her online homework since she didn’t have a home internet connection. No child should have to go to such lengths just to do homework, and every child should have easy and affordable access to the Internet and the opportunity that access brings. Yet, sadly, Darriale is far from alone.

The digital divide is a reality for three out of four American families, meaning approximately eight million individuals under the age of 18 are living without internet access. According to Pew Research, 79 percent of surveyed middle and high school teachers report allowing students to access homework online with 76 percent allowing students to submit assignments online. However, only 18 percent of teachers reported the majority of students have access to the digital tools they need at home, which left those students without access to broadband at a significant disadvantage.

So, where does this leave these students and their families? In short, without an Internet connection you are both economically and educationally marginalized. Luckily, this can be solved and we, at EveryoneOn, with the help of partners, are working to help families connect to the digital world.…Read More

Is dark fiber in your district’s future?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began allowing E-rate applicants to apply for discounts for dark fiber and self-provisioned fiber. These “smart fiber” options are seen as a way to give institutions more tools for meeting connectivity demands.

Take our quick poll on dark fiber here.

Key points:…Read More

Dark fiber could be the future of school networking

Dark fiber is helping some districts scale broadband for tomorrow, not today. Is it the future of networking?

After taking steps to update and increase funding for the E-rate program in 2014, this year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began allowing applicants to apply for discounts for dark fiber and self-provisioned fiber.

Seen as a way to give institutions more tools for meeting connectivity demands, these “smart fiber” options are already being used by schools nationwide. With the expanded E-rate opportunities, the number of K-12 districts exploring their dark/self-provisioned options could grow significantly over the next few years.

What is dark fiber?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) does a good job of breaking down traditional and self-provisioned options in a PDF on its website. Basically, self-provisioned options let schools build new fiber networks without using existing fiber optic cables. Schools then own those networks and, as such, are responsible for the related operations and management costs.…Read More

Most districts are doing nothing about the homework gap; a few are making a big difference

3 out of 4 districts have little plan for providing off-campus internet. But there are solutions, and some districts are leading the charge

The growing ubiquity of internet access and pervasive use of online information has changed the learning landscape forever. Students continue to benefit from enhanced connectivity throughout the formal school day thanks to a $1.5 billion increase in E-rate funding over the last 18 months. However, demand and expectations for learning outside of the school day are on the rise — and there are still many students struggling to complete homework online.

It is estimated that 5 million households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet service at home. Low-income households, especially Black and Hispanic households, make up a disproportionate share of that 5 million.[1] The under-connection of low-income families is a real issue. Clearly, there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to narrow the inequitable homework gap.

This issue constitutes a new civil right; the right to digital equity; the right to connect to needed resources — anywhere, anytime. This is a civil right that cannot be achieved by school leaders alone. A holistic approach will ensure that school-aged children aren’t reduced to little or no access. It calls for community leadership — connected and collaborative leadership.…Read More

3 Google Fiber programs that could help ease the digital divide

Google’s affordable broadband service is already impacting some communities and schools

The latest Digital Equity report from the Consortium of School Networking paints a picture of an educational environment where schools are at least on the right path to providing access to high-speed wi-fi within their walls (though there is still plenty of work to be done). An equally pressing problem is the fact that the number of pupils with fast connectivity dwindles as they move away from their K-12 hubs—and the divide deepens even further when issues like socioeconomic status, income, and race are taken into account.

According to The Pew Research Center, 82.5 percent of American households with school-age children currently have broadband access at home. This is approximately 9 percentage points higher than the broadband adoption rates across all households, CoSN reports, but there are still 5 million households with school-age children which lack broadband in the home.

“Students in these households experience what is being labeled the ‘homework gap,’” reported CoSN, pointing out that more than 75 percent of school district technology leaders have no strategy for addressing off-campus access.…Read More

New toolkit to help schools increase fiber connections, affordably

A CoSN resource aims to help school tech leaders navigate new E-rate rules allowing for the use of dark fiber

District technology leaders looking for guidance around how to leverage the expanded fiber connectivity opportunities in the E-rate program might find help in the form of a new toolkit from CoSN and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Sixty-eight percent of district technology officers in a recent CoSN survey said their school systems don’t have the bandwidth to meet connectivity needs, but the toolkit is an attempt to give those technology leaders guidance as they try and meet ever-increasing bandwidth demands.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2014 took major steps to update the E-rate program, including increasing its annual funding to $3.9 billion, up from $2.4 billion. In 2016, E-rate applicants can start applying for discounts for dark fiber and self-provisioned fiber, which, ed-tech stakeholders say, gives schools more flexibility as they try to meet connectivity demands.…Read More

The top 10 school IT leader concerns

Annual survey outlines broadband, instructional materials, student data privacy as top among school IT leaders’ concerns

Broadband and network capacity is school technology leaders’ top priority, according to the results of an annual IT leadership survey from CoSN.

The fourth annual K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report, released during CoSN’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., also revealed that school IT leaders are spending more time and devoting more resources to student data privacy and security. The survey collected responses from 526 ed-tech leaders, most in public school environments.

“There is innovative change happening in our schools. But with this digital transformation is a new frontier of challenges confronting IT administrators,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in a press release. “The education community should know what is top of mind for school IT leaders so we can better support their leadership capacity and advance learning outcomes empowered through technology.”…Read More

Report: 41 percent of schools are under-connected

A new report details the importance of state advocacy in connecting schools, students to broadband internet

A new report from SETDA and Common Sense Kids Action focuses on K-12 broadband and wi-fi connectivity, state leadership for infrastructure, state broadband implementation highlights, and state advocacy for federal broadband support.

The report highlights the pivotal role state leaders and policymakers play in helping districts and schools implement high-speed broadband and wi-fi in schools. This kind of connectivity is necessary, the authors note, to help connect students to high-quality digital learning opportunities.

It also highlights state leaders who have helped their states put these digital learning opportunities directly in front of teachers and students.…Read More

Texas district upgrades fiber optic network

New 100G high-capacity network will support 128,000 students and staff across Houston

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD), the third largest school district in Texas, is deploying a private optical network leveraging high-capacity networking solutions fromPhonoscope LIGHTWAVE, a private fiber optic network service provider, and Ciena.

CFISD is building a 100G network with the vision of providing students and staff ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ broadband access so they can easily interact and collaborate with peers and engage in distance learning initiatives.

With approximately 114,000 students and 14,000 staff across more than 100 campuses and service centers, CFISD plans to utilize this robust fiber optic network to improve access to web-based educational resources while enhancing learning and collaboration.…Read More

EnGenius introduces K-12 schools to a new network solution

Neutron Series Distributed Network Management Solution provides fast wi-fi connectivity without licensing or subscription fees

EnGenius Technologies, Inc., a provider of high-performance, versatile networking and telecommunications solutions for businesses and consumers, recently introduced its new Neutron Series Distributed Network Management Solution.

The Neutron Series Distributed Network Management Solution is a highly-scalable managed wireless LAN solution that makes it easy and affordable to deploy and centrally manage a high-performance, secure wireless network throughout a campus, or even across multiple campuses in a school district. Addressing the tight budget concerns of many K-12 school districts, the Neutron Series requires no licensing or subscription fees to monitor or manage its products, lowering operating expenses and freeing up budgets for other education initiatives.

Key features and benefits:…Read More