This E-rate trick can help schools combat net neutrality repeal

With concerns about school internet access buzzing in the wake of the FCC’s vote to repeal net neutrality, anxiety over school internet access might transfer to the federal E-rate program–but there’s no need to worry, according to E-rate experts.

When the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality, education stakeholders worried the move would be a step backwards for digital equity inside classrooms. Some worried that even in classrooms with digital equity, net neutrality’s repeal would leave students in low-income neighborhoods at a disadvantage and widen the homework gap.

While net neutrality’s impact on the marketplace and internet access has yet to be determined, there are things schools can do to protect themselves if they’re worried about throttling or blocking–concerns brought up during the net neutrality debate, said John Harrington, CEO of E-rate consulting firm Funds For Learning.…Read More

Our schools need better internet access, capacity

President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative last month to connect 99 percent of America’s K-12 students to 1 gigabit of broadband and high-speed Wi-Fi in the next five years, reports The San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission took the first step to achieve that goal by modernizing its $2.5 billion subsidy program to bring faster internet to schools and libraries. Together, these initiatives create a moment of opportunity to transform teaching and learning in America’s schools. The 21st century classroom will leverage technology to improve student outcomes by personalizing learning, but it must be built on a foundation of robust internet infrastructure. Our schools need wireless networks and 100 megabits of internet connectivity (growing to 1 gigabit in the next five years) to support one-to-one digital learning…

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What makes a good broadband network for schools?

High-quality broadband access will be particularly important schools roll out online Common Core assessments.

A panel of broadband experts recently agreed that high-quality access for schools and districts means more than providing a connection to the internet—good broadband provides a foundation for innovative initiatives, cloud services, telecommunications, and much more.

Hosted by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the panel discussed the power of broadband access in schools and how it takes extensive planning, research, and legislative backing to ensure not just access, but high-quality access that can sustain growth.

“Our biggest concern was to have equitable access for all schools and districts,” said Tim Sizemore, program manager for the Kentucky Department of Education’s Kentucky Education Network (KEN). “It started in the early 90s and has developed over the years to a statewide and state-funded broadband initiative.”…Read More

Wired vs. Wireless…which way to go when it’s time to refresh?

One of the schools I work with is looking at a major infrastructure refresh, explains Christopher Dawson of ZDNet. The hundred odd switches that were state of the art when the school was built 13 years ago are rapidly failing and, combined with thousands of meters of Cat 5 cabling, are too slow to handle drastically increased utilization over that time frame. So the question is, should the school replace all of the hardware and cabling or go wireless? It’s easy and not terribly expensive to achieve at least gigabit speeds with wired connections and off the shelf components. This school even has fiber connecting a head end room to each floor. Each room in the school is wired with at least 4 drops, if not 6 or 8, though, all of which run off of the Cat 5 cable which would prevent actual gigabit throughput. While replacing the switches isn’t a big deal since every floor has a wiring closet and all of the switches are centralized, one has to wonder if this is really the best choice…

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