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U.S. schools need more bandwidth to manage new technologies

Published: Tuesday, April 30 2013 9:47 p.m. MDT

Advances in technology have given teachers exciting new tools that engage students, and make it easier for learning to happen around the clock wherever students are. That leaves schools around the nation scrambling to adapt and pay for computer systems that grow ever more complicated and expensive.

The 2013 "Technology Counts" report from Education Week magazine said one of the top concerns is increasing bandwidth so schools can effectively use tablets, educational videos from popular providers like Kahn Academy and offer online testing for common core state standards that most states are implementing. Many states have passed 1-to-1 computing initiatives that would put a computer device in the hands of every student, but those devices are useless without high-speed broadband connections.

A 2010 survey by the FCC found that most schools have broadband access, but nearly 80 percent have connections inadequate for their needs, the “Technology Counts” report said. The states of Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina and Utah were praised in the report for developing statewide broadband networks for use by schools.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said her state’s network increases equity between rural and urban, and high- and low-income areas, as quoted in the report.

Acquiring sufficient bandwidth is only the starting point in a complicated process, however. Districts must provide schools with people who can design and implement networks, and troubleshoot problems as they happen — all expensive prospects.

A 2012 report from the State Education Technology Directors Association recommends that all states create cost-effective state broadband networks. The group calls for the federal government to increase funding for states that implement these networks and to communities that provide access at libraries and community centers, and to homes of low-income families.

EMAIL: cbaker@deseretnews.com

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