Last week, CoSN (in partnership with AASA and MDR) unveiled the results of our annual survey that laid out the state of connectivity in schools across the U.S. There is lots of data for both pessimists and optimists among us.
Without question, there are some major challenges that are holding many school systems back from having robust education networks with broadband and WiFi capacity. Score one point for the pessimists.
And there are also some encouraging signs that we are on the right track to reaching President Obama’s ConnectEd vision of having broadband and WiFi in 99% of classrooms over the next four years. Score ½ a point for the optimists.
Keith’s Bottom-line: While we are mostly on the right path, policymakers and educators need to keep their eyes focused on continued investments in robust, reliable education networks that enable digital learning. We have a lot of work to do to address issues of digital equity – meaning providing access for students when they leave our school campuses that enables them to do their homework.
Here are just some of the major findings from our 3rd Annual CoSN E-rate and Infrastructure Survey:
The good news is that Internet connection costs have improved, as 36% – compared to 27% in 2014 – of school systems indicated their monthly cost per Mbps for Internet connection was less than $5.
The good news is that the majority (more than 70%) of school system leaders are using lit fiber for transport types for WAN operations – a significant one-year increase from fewer than half in 2014.
The survey also details the impact of E-rate changes. Most educators are positive about the new focus of the Erate on broadband and WiFi, though there is widespread concern about the loss of funding for telephony.
Finally, the survey highlights the lack of progress in addressing digital inequity; for example, three out of four school systems do not have any off-campus strategies for connecting students at home or after school. (Check out my blog series on Digital Equity for a full discussion of these challenges.)
This is just a snapshot into what we found in the 2015 survey. There’s still major work to do. The best part of this CoSN survey data is that we increasingly know where we are making progress, as well as what continues to need attention. You can read the complete findings at: cosn.org/Infrastructure2015.