Home > Uncategorized > One Data Set, Two Opposite Conclusions: Do Schools REALLY Have Sufficient Broadband?

One Data Set, Two Opposite Conclusions: Do Schools REALLY Have Sufficient Broadband?

October 8, 2018

I just read two article on the findings of EducationSuperHighway, which released its annual State of the States report Tuesday. One article in EdSurge is titled “Only 28% of Districts Have Enough Bandwidth to Use Digital Learning Every Day”. The other article in Education Dive has this headline: “Report: 96% of public schools have adequate internet for digital learning”. So who’s right? The answer: they both are correct given the current benchmark of “at least 100 kbps (or 100 thousand bits per second) per student” but the 28% figure is correct if one uses the soon-to-be-established standard of 1 Mbps per student. What’s the difference in standards mean?

Evan Marwell, CEO of the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway offers the answer:

“It’s really about the pervasiveness and frequency of use. At 100 kbps, you can have a few teachers here and a few there at any given time using digital learning in the classroom.

“The big difference 1 Mbps makes is you can really use digital learning in every classroom every day—without going back to the days of the spinning wheel.”

Given Mr. Marwell’s caveat, I’m going with the 28% figure! If schools are committed to making extensive use of technology without needing to worry about the frustration that goes with spinning wheels they need to meet the new benchmark. And reading on in the article that reported on the 28% figure it appears that achieving the new benchmark across the board will be possible in schools.

But as reported frequently in this blog, providing high speed internet in schools is insufficient if the ultimate goal is to use technology to level the playing field. If one group of children goes home to a home with slow internet, dial-up, or no internet while another group goes to a home with high speed wireless throughout their house it is difficult to see how the playing field is level. Until the FCC views 1 Mbps internet access as a utility that every household should have access to the playing field will never be level…. and the FCC in place today, the FCC that wants to establish multiple lanes of service, is working against that equity.

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