How schools are addressing wireless needs
- With digital resources moving closer to ubiquity in classrooms, wireless internet connectivity is increasingly mandatory to guarantee equitable learning experiences, eSchool News reports.
- Districts and schools have approached this in a variety of ways, with Hawaii's Le Jardin Academy deploying a cloud-managed networking solution and increasing bandwidth for its BYOD and 1:1 device initiatives, while San Diego Community College in California has utilized ExtremeWireless and over 600 access points to expand indoor and outdoor coverage on its three campuses.
- Additionally, Tennessee's McMinn County School System adopted an entirely new end-to-end networking solution that tracks and supports users at each access point using Extreme Networks' ExtremeManagement and ExtremeAnalytics.
As more districts and schools ditch traditional paper textbooks and worksheets in favor of tablets, Chromebooks and other devices, ensuring they have reliable and consistent access to wireless broadband connections is imperative. And it becomes even more so when factoring in the number of states that have transitioned mandatory annual assessments to digital platforms.
The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission's E-rate program is a successful and regularly available source of funding for broadband modernization for many schools — provided you plan and file for it early enough.
The downside of the digital learning transition, however, is that it has created the "homework gap," in which students who lack reliable broadband connectivity at home are at-risk of being left behind their more affluent peers when it comes to completing digital homework. It's an issue that is top-of-mind for FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, but addressing it until a policy solution arrives (if one does) will require creativity on the part of administrators, who have pursued options ranging from sending students home with mobile hotspots that can be checked out from school libraries to parking WiFi-outfitted buses strategically around the district so students don't lose access to resources beyond the school walls.
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