Report reveals surprising data about mobile broadband usage in schools

A recent Mobile Beacon report analyzing mobile broadband usage by non-profit organizations, including schools, finds that schools utilizing Mobile Beacon’s 4G LTE internet service indicate that the ability to supplement and/or extend existing school networks is the greatest benefit of the service.

The report, “Creating Opportunity Through Connectivity: How Mobile Broadband for Anchor Institutions Impacts Communities,” analyzed survey responses from Mobile Beacon’s non-profit clients. Mobile Beacon enables non-profit organizations—including schools—to purchase LTE-enabled mobile hotspot devices for $70 and offers uncapped, unthrottled data plans for $10/month.

While schools reported that the two main drivers for acquiring Mobile Beacon’s mobile broadband services are the desire for mobile connectivity (41 percent) and to save money on internet access (28 percent), they reported that the main benefits of using the services were 1) the ability to supplement/extend an existing network in their building (42 percent) and 2) having unlimited data access (22 percent). The report analyzed data consumption by schools over a five-month period (Sept 2016-Jan 2017) and found the average monthly data usage is 373 GB. During this time frame, data usage trended strongly upward, with consumption increasing so rapidly that the report predicts average school use could double in the course of a year. The sharp increase in data usage provides insight into school data usage trends when bandwidth is not capped or limited.…Read More

Lightspeed Systems releases updated school web filter

Version 3 of Rocket Web Filter features increased speed, live reports, easy SSL traffic handling

Ed-tech solution provider Lightspeed Systems announced the release of version 3 of Rocket Web Filter for content filtering in K-12 schools.

The release features a new user interface as well as a variety of new features to simplify school network management.

Rocket Web Filter — which is powered by Lightspeed Systems’ proprietary Rocket appliances, either on school networks or in a cloud — was built specifically for schools. With a reputation for robust content filtering without over-blocking, Web Filter quickly became the K-12 market leader for filtering. The new version features improvements to filtering speed, scalability and SSL handling as well as live traffic reports and other tools to make filtering and reporting fast and easy.…Read More

Building smart networks to improve learning

Is your school network ready to support next-generation learning?

building-networkIn the newly-released 2014 CoSN IT Leadership Survey, district technology leaders indicate that being ready for online assessments is their number one priority. And fewer than 18 percent report their district is fully ready for the online and other digital assessments starting this fall in many states. Clearly, school systems must take steps to prepare their districts for the onset of this new era of online testing. To help school district leaders, CoSN recently released our Raising the BAR: Becoming Assessment Ready initiative.

We’re also calling on Congress to provide funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to help districts fill assessment technology gaps and related professional development.

Yet, I would argue that district leaders focusing on “readiness” should not be solely limited to more sophisticated assessments. School systems need a modern, robust education network – one that is designed for learning, not simply testing. We must have education networks with broadband connectivity, Wi-Fi across the campus, and a strategy for outside-of-school access to enable learning.…Read More

7 steps to building strong school networks

School networks must be able to meet teaching and learning demands

school-networksCapable networks are an essential part of even the most straightforward school technology program, and now school technology leaders can follow seven steps to build strong and reliable school networks.

The guidelines offer a look at education networks in general and examine how data, devices, and connectivity all impact networks’ performance. The guide, which offers examples of how different districts are creating and sustaining strong networks, is part of the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) Smart Education Networks Design initiative (SEND), released in conjunction with Qualcomm Technologies.

“Smart education networks must be resilient and durable, and are a critical investment in maximizing student achievement and ensuring continuous progress in classrooms across America,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.…Read More

Smart education networks: An action plan for leaders

A number of things should be considered when it comes to preparing school networks for optimum performance

school-networkIn my September column, “Time to ask for more eRate funding,” I discussed how this is a historic moment. The eRate program is the largest and most important funding source for ed-tech infrastructure. For the first time in 17 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a comprehensive rulemaking to examine the eRate’s structure, the services it supports, and the adequacy of its funding.

To help inform the FCC and our community, CoSN and Market Data Retrieval (MDR) in August and September surveyed school district leaders about their broadband networks, garnering 469 responses.

[Editor’s note: You can read the key findings in our eRate Survival Guide.]…Read More

Ed-tech leaders brace for online testing

Having so many students taking online exams at the same time will cause a huge strain on school networks, ed-tech leaders fear.

What keeps ed-tech leaders up at night? Making sure their schools are prepared to roll out high-stakes testing to students online by the 2014-15 school year is a chief concern, said panelists during a March 11 session at the Consortium for School Networking’s 2013 national conference in San Diego.

Two multi-state consortia, the Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, are developing next-generation assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and students in more than 40 states will take the tests online beginning in 2014.

But having so many students taking online exams at the same time will cause a huge strain on school networks, ed-tech leaders fear.…Read More

Can school networks keep up with demands?

School leaders understand the value technology can bring to the classroom, including new resources, better assessments, and the ability to gauge student comprehension.

But school networks must be equipped to support new technologies if educators and students are to realize the full benefits of these changes—and new data suggest they aren’t keeping up.

A recent survey by Enterasys, a network security company, collected information from schools to understand how many plan to adopt new teaching and learning strategies, including online assessments and flipped classrooms. The survey also asked schools if their current network infrastructure is prepared to handle the demands of these new changes.…Read More

Securing K-12 networks for 1:1 computing

students-using-laptopThe adoption of 1:1 computing programs and online K-12 learning programs are driving an industry-wide move toward accessible network access. In East Grand Rapids Public Schools, and in school districts nationwide, requirements to provide students and teachers with easy access to online tools and the internet are paramount to creating an effective learning environment.

With today’s budget cuts, the only sustainable way to provide 1:1 computing is to allow students to bring their own computers to school. Deploying a network access control (NAC) solution that supports a multi-vendor environment, wireless and wired networks, and multiple computing device types is a necessary best practice for accomplishing this.

We talk a lot about “democratizing student access to technology” around here–letting students choose the computing platforms and learning tools that work best for them. NAC gives students access to networks and learning resources using the devices of their choice, and keeps them off restricted networks while providing the security and malware protection that prevent network outages.…Read More