One hundred percent of K-12 district administrators participating in a national survey responded that Web hosting should remain funded as a Priority One Service within the E-rate program. A Web hosting service provides a means for a school or library to maintain a website on the Internet. In total, more than 400 educational leaders from school districts of all sizes and types responded in 2010 and 2013 to surveys regarding E-rate issues and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal to modernize the E-rate program and strengthen digital learning.
This important FCC proposal is being considered at the same time that President Obama is promoting his ConnectED initiative, a call to bring broadband Internet access to 99 percent of classrooms within the next five years. While broadband provides the “raw connectivity” required to support new digital learning strategies, school websites serve as the primary access points for digital learning resources. Thus, web hosting provides the secure infrastructure that works in hand in hand with broadband to advance digital learning goals and foster the important school-home connection.
“Perhaps more than any other technology or service, Web hosting optimizes the value of broadband access. It provides secure and always-available access to resources that foster community engagement and support academic success, and it provides a greater return on broadband investment,” said Edward S. Marflak, Chairman and Founder of Schoolwires®. “Educators tell us that E-rate funded Web hosting is integral to the digital infrastructure of 21st century learning. And, at a cost of pennies per student per week, it is one of the most cost-effective and highest-impact services funded by E-rate.”
Key findings from districts that participated in the survey include:
· 98 percent state that district, school, and classroom websites perform critical educational functions.
· 95 percent state that websites provide a cost effective mechanism for sharing relevant and timely information.
· 85 percent state that websites strengthen parent engagement.
· 75 percent state that websites increase out-of-school learning time.
· 61 percent state that websites level the playing field across rural and urban schools by providing easy access to 21st century tools and digital learning resources.
Almost all (98 percent) state that their Web presence, enabled by Web hosting, is more important than in 2003 when Web hosting was first added to the Eligible Services List as a Priority One service.
Web hosting includes storage, access, and website administration tools for the creation and maintenance of a district’s website. In addition, Web hosting includes interactive communication features such as blogging and webmail, and other features that facilitate real-time interactive communication, such as instant messaging and chat. More than 5,000 school districts nationwide filed for E-rate support for Web hosting for the 2014-2015 funding year.
The findings of the survey mirror statements made in a grass-roots petition to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, asking him to continue E-Rate eligibility for Web hosting. More than 700 administrators and educators from around the country signed the petition, which was recently filed on February 21st. The petition states that, “School websites help support digital learning goals and make it easy for schools to quickly and effectively communicate with parents, students, and community members regarding key initiatives, academic progress, and emergencies”; and that “the elimination of E-rate funding support for Web hosting would cause serious hardship for many school districts that would be forced to cut already tight budgets. These cuts could result in staffing reductions and/or the scaling back of key Web and digital learning initiatives.”
About the E-Rate National Survey
The E-Rate National Survey is a projectable national survey conducted among K-12 district administrators in 2013 and also in 2010. Survey findings and data have been compiled into a report called the E-Rate National Survey: The Growing Role of Web Hosting and Sustained Need for E-Rate Priority One Funding.
Schoolwires, Inc. provides a suite of technology products and related services to more than 1,600 educational entities, including K-12 school districts and schools in the United States and China. The company’s technologies are designed to foster community, student, teacher and parent engagement in the classroom, locally and internationally. Its solutions include an integrated website and content management system, a safe social learning and networking system, a family of mobile solutions, and an enterprise technology platform. Schoolwires brings together a district’s essential technologies, information, and content to effectively engage the K-12 community in support of district and student success. The company currently serves an estimated 11 million users and has been recognized as one of the top privately held education companies for the seventh consecutive year by Inc. magazine. Schoolwires was incorporated on April 5, 2000 and is headquartered in State College, PA with offices in Beijing, China. www.schoolwires.com