North Carolina's success provides school broadband access roadmap
- North Carolina has become one of the nation's biggest ed tech success stories as a result of a singular focus among stakeholders to connect students in all of the state's schools to broadband, Entangled Solutions Principal Consultant Michael B. Horn writes for EdSurge.
- Horn writes that leaders like former governor Bev Perdue, who helped launch an effort in the early '00s to get broadband in every classroom by 2018, set the state up for success in part by ensuring clear benefits for stakeholders ranging from state politicians and local leaders to educators and private companies.
- The state's process and lessons learned are detailed in digiLEARN's new “Strategic Policy Playbook: Driving Innovation In Education for All Students” report, including how early skepticism from districts on the initiative was alleviated when they saw real action from the state's General Assembly and how those efforts were bolstered by the NC Research and Education Network.
Despite general skepticism of many top-down initiatives in education, the need to ensure access to reliable broadband for all students is likely among those that many can still get behind. The past decade has seen classrooms go increasingly digital, and without equal access to high-speed internet for all students, let alone the devices themselves, those from lower-income backgrounds are more susceptible to falling behind and slipping through the cracks.
Achieving that access for all is also obviously easier said than done, requiring collaboration between entities beyond just schools and state government. With tight funding in many locales nationwide, it's increasingly incumbent upon districts and states to collaborate with nonprofit and corporate partners to provide these services. North Carolina, for example, has worked with AT&T, CenturyLink and nonprofit provider MCNC to build out an infrastructure that benefited all involved.
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