The Learning Accelerator Blog/EducationSuperHighway’s New Network Guide Enables Blended Learning Infrastructure

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EducationSuperHighway’s New Network Guide Enables Blended Learning Infrastructure

by Daniel Owens on December 18 2014

Improving K-12 Internet connectivity is essential to blended learning and improving K-12 education. EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit focused on upgrading Internet access for every classroom in America, recently released its Network Essentials for Superintendents Guide which brings clarity to this often overly technical process and will help district leaders take the necessary steps to upgrade their networks for modern teaching and learning.

To date, technical and financial capacity have been two of the larger hurdles facing districts hoping to upgrade their network capacity. Last week the FCC announced increased support for the E-rate program, which will now help subsidize school Internet costs up to $3.9 billion annually. EducationSuperHighway has been supporting these critical financial reforms and their new Networks Essentials for Superintendents Guide will help overcome the technical hurdles of network upgrades.

While Internet access is usually considered a simple commodity, anyone who has ever been on the phone with a service provider’s customer support knows the utility is more complex than it seems. Now imagine that you are trying to provide seamless Internet to thousands of students instead of an individual household: this is the challenge that nearly every district in America is facing.

Most districts aren’t service providers, however, and they should be focused more on improving educational outcomes than the in’s and out’s of the Internet industry. The Network Guide distills the essential information down to a simple and easy to understand format. This helps districts make better informed decisions about their Internet, while minimizing the impact on already overbooked schedules. The guide clearly spells out three main goals for educational Internet:

1. it should be fast enough to meet your educational goals
2. it should be cost effective
3. schools and districts should be able to maintain it over time.

These goals provide a great framework and starting point for districts considering much needed upgrades. Internet connectivity plays a critical role in blended learning, yet 67% of districts lack the bandwidth they currently need, and 99% lack the bandwidth they will need in five years. Technology is evolving at rate where it is nearly impossible to keep up. A common complaint from school leaders is trying to increase their technology know-how so it can be integrated with teaching pedagogy. This is a tall task and EducationSuperHighway is right in recommending that school leaders focus on becoming better informed consumers instead of technology experts. The guide touches on all of the main topics in considering network enhancements and provides practical advice on everything from customization to capacity, as well as additional resources.

Nearly every district in America should be considering some form of Internet upgrade and EducationSuperHighway’s Network Essentials for Superintendents Guide will make the process easier and better. The increased funding from the FCC is a tremendous boon for schools and provides the much needed financial support for US schools working to improve their infrastructure. Thanks to the leadership of organizations like the FCC and EducationSuperHighway, the problem has been identified and resources are being allocated to help solve it.

About the Author

Daniel Owens is a Partner at The Learning Accelerator. Email comments to