Nov 05 2018

3 Levels of Connectivity K–12 Schools Should Consider

When planning internet improvements, K–12 schools should think about how students and faculty are using their networks throughout the day.

The increasing digitalization of education has put even more emphasis on internet access in K–12 schools, leading more school districts, nonprofits and government agencies to invest in programs and services to ensure each student is connected. 

How much speed do you need? It depends on your learning goals, according to EducationSuperHighway.

Here are three different areas of connectivity K–12 IT teams may want to consider when deciding how to configure their schools’ networks:

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how K–12 schools are preparing their infrastructures for IoT integration!

1. Individual Classroom Technology Use

Technology has become an integral part of day-to-day classroom activities, used for everything from improving personalized learning initiatives to cutting down on unwanted behavior.

Tools like interactive smartboards are helping teachers engage their students, enticing students to be more actively involved in their education.

“Teachers and students can upload images easily or interact with the display through their personal devices,” the The Tech Edvocate reports. “By integrating personal devices with their interactive board, these companies are creating a way for teachers to combine student-centered methods with their high-tech display.” As connected classrooms become more ubiquitous, schools will need to ensure that individual classes have the necessary bandwidth to incorporate these new tools.

Characterized by bandwidth of 100Kbps per student and one wireless access point per 1.5 classrooms, this level of infrastructure will support media-rich assessments and classroom use — but not for all classrooms at the same time.

2. Everyday 1:1 Technology Use

One-to-one device initiatives have grown exponentially over the past few years. According to a report from K–12 device company Kajeet, the number of mobile devices sold to K–12 schools grew 10 percent year-over-year, with 73 percent of teachers polled agreeing technology has changed classroom dynamics over the past five years for the better.

Students are also using their mobile devices to assist with their education now more than ever. In 2017, the number of students who used their mobile devices for class (58 percent) was nearly equal to the number of students who received a Chromebook from their schools (56 percent), according to ISTE.

With 77 percent of middle schoolers accessing mobile devices during the school day, district IT leaders will need to build an infrastructure that can handle the internet demand from both students and teachers at any time from any place on their campuses. This level calls for bandwidth of 1Mbps per student and 1.2 wireless APs per classroom.

3. Video, Virtual Reality and Other Rich Media Use

Media is proving to be an immensely powerful tool for classroom activities, and one that new generations of learners are demanding be more present in their educations. 

Video has proven to be an effective learning tool as well. According to a ViewSonic survey, 75 percent of teachers reported that media improves student engagement, and 72 percent reported that students used video material outside of class to learn on their own.

At the highest level, students engage in technology-enabled learning experiences every day, and video and other rich media are crucial to that.

Teachers are getting behind the movement as well. Eighty-three percent of surveyed educators believe virtual reality can help improve education outcomes, according to a Samsung survey, EdTech reports. As these tools develop and schools explore avenues to integrate this technology, districts will be tasked with establishing infrastructures that can handle the connectivity burden. This calls for bandwidth that exceeds 1Mbps per student.

For more on how K–12 districts are improving broadband access in schools, check out States, Schools Work Together to Bring Broadband to K–12 Districts.

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