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Articles: Networks

The move toward personalized learning and the ability to deliver resources via the cloud are transforming the way districts purchase digital content for math, reading and other parts of the curriculum. As this landscape changes, district also are spending more on digital resources.

The FCC recommends schools have internet access of  at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 users in the short term. The FCC will provide $1 billion per year for  Wi-Fi connections in 2015 and 2016.

High-speed broadband is in and phones are out, according to the recent FCC order to update the federal E-rate program. Administrators will have new funds to expand district Wi-Fi capacity, but will need to make up for lost phone and email subsidies.

The main goal of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative is to shift funding from outdated technology to build broadband and Wi-Fi networks to give all schools high-speed internet access.

The federal push to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices is kicking into high gear, with over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul of the program that provides discount internet access.

MITCH KRUEGER
Director of Technology
Goddard USD 265
Goddard, Kansas
(5,400 students)

JANICE ARTHUR-TOWNS
IT Director
Carson City School District
Carson City, Nevada
(7,900 students)

DOUG PEARCE, Director, Technical Services
ANGELA COLUZZI, Director, Network Integration
Broward County Public Schools
Broward County, Florida (235,000 students)

At Madison County Schools in Alabama, technology coordinator Tom Whitten, above on left, meets with his IT team to solve bandwidth issues in the district’s schools.

The wireless networks at six high schools in the Madison County Schools in Alabama are now humming at full power after administrators figured out how to prevent a new wave of new smartphones, tablets and other devices from overwhelming bandwidth capacity.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recommends districts consider its list of Essential Conditions when building a framework for teaching with technology.

With both Common Core testing and a 2013-2014 districtwide BYOD initiative looming, Rockwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo., required a strong Ethernet connection between buildings. As the district spans 150 square miles, the large area needed high-level coverage. According to Will Blaylock, the district’s CIO, the provider the district had been using prior to July 2013 had been meeting the district’s needs, but they were looking for more.

The influx of devices and applications that result from a BYOD project typically strain a district’s wireless network. Keeping your network secure is also a concern. However, with the proper device and network management tools, these issues can be mitigated and innovative ways of delivering education through technology can be achieved. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 22, 2013, featured experts from Cisco Meraki and GovConnection, who offered advice on how to plan for, implement, and manage wireless networks in a BYOD environment.

The Oyster River Cooperative School District in Durham, N.H., recently upgraded to gigabit wired connectivity and replaced its legacy Wi-Fi with Aruba Networks. Above, Carolyn Eastman, assistant superintendent, meets with IT Director Joshua Olstad.

Implementing technology upgrades required for Common Core assessments can be more opportunity than burden for districts seeking the most academic achievement from their IT spending.

Richard Culatta is the deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education.

Last June, President Obama unveiled ConnectED, a five-year initiative designed to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless—and also equip public schools with the tools to make the most of the enhanced connectivity.

Students in the rural Spartanburg School District 3 in Glendale, S.C. benefitted from technology infrastructure upgrades and a new 1-to-1 program.

Before purchasing tablets or creating BYOD policies, district leaders need to ensure that outdated school networks can handle the heavy lifting required to provide digital content for all students.

Most school networks are designed to support one computer per five students—the goal set by the U.S. Department of Education in the mid-1990s. But as most know, that is no longer sufficient given the rapid increase in popularity of the 1-to-1 model, says Denise Atkinson-Shorey, senior project director at CoSN.

Online learning is an exciting and limitless prospect, but the applications and devices required to support it demand a robust district network infrastructure. Though establishing the necessary broadband foundation can seem daunting, the resulting benefits are worthwhile pursuits. This web seminar, originally presented on June 4, 2013, addressed the importance of broadband today and in the future, factors to consider when developing a network plan, and the innovative initiatives made possible with high amounts of bandwidth.

The need for high-speed internet in schools is growing exponentially. District Administration spoke with four administrators from around the country about what is driving current bandwidth-consumption trends, what impact increased bandwidth has on tight budgets, and what the future of bandwidth looks like for K12 schools.

JIM RARUS

Districts may have more affordable access to broadband internet service as early as fall 2014, thanks to an FCC proposal to reform the federal E-rate program that connects schools and public libraries to the internet. The proposal marks a step forward for President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative to bring high-speed internet access to 99 percent of U.S. students within five years.

Small and medium-sized districts have unique challenges in establishing ongoing technology sustainability. However, even with limited funds and staff, it is possible for schools to have maximum functionality and ease of management with the latest technology products available. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2013, an IT manager from the Hamilton Heights (Ind.) School District shared how his school system was able to implement the Wi-Fi capabilities of a much larger district with a much smaller budget.

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