Traditional learning can’t be replaced, but it can be transformed through increased use of the Internet
Remember the school house of yesteryear? Even though I’m too young to have experienced school like portrayed in popular television programs of decades ago, I am old enough to recall that going to school was much more simple and straightforward. You get to class, say good morning to the teacher and your classmates, open up your books and learn – with occasional use of computers during school hours.
Today, school is very different with the proliferation of technology and devices such as mobile phones. Sure, students still learn about different subjects in formal classroom settings and forge relationships with classmates, some lasting a lifetime. However, there’s an increasing trend among educators to include the Internet in their lesson plans.
What educators really want
96% of educators believe that technology integration in learning is a priority; this according to a recent survey from the Software and Information Industry Association. Another 82% can see how more technology use in the classroom would be useful in connecting learning “inside and outside the classroom.”
Educators can enhance the learning experience using interactive online tools. The combination of online coursework and traditional classroom courses, known as “blended learning,” can help to enhance student achievement and retention. So why are educators not getting what they want: more use of the Internet to extend the classroom beyond the four walls?
The problem is lack of bandwidth
Seamlessly integrating the Internet to enhance education isn’t the problem. Bandwidth, or lack thereof, is a main issue. Let’s look at the current situation with Internet access at the K-12 level. A typical public school has about the same bandwidth of a single family home according to EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit which envisions 100MB+ Internet access for every K-12 school in the U.S. The key difference, of course, is that public schools have hundreds or more users vying for the same Internet access, which deteriorates performance for everyone.
According to an FCC report, "Measuring Broadband America," 80% of school districts rely on broadband connections which are, in a word, inept. With more schools using online textbooks, collaboration tools, and social media, broadband access must be more robust. In reality, increasing broadband isn’t a nice-to-have, like an elective, it’s a must-have core requirement. One key way to help improve Internet access at schools is by increasing bandwidth to support 100 mb/s or more for online video streaming, podcast, online collaboration, etc., which can help provide much higher capabilities needed for today’s schools.
It’s time to help teachers and professors do their jobs by giving them the bandwidth they need to enhance the educational experience for all of their students. It’s clear; technology innovation is changing the classroom and the very notion of learning itself. So if educators, people who are helping to get our kids ready for the world of work and life in general, are increasingly desiring more robust Internet connections, why not give them more bandwidth?
Image credit: Saad Faruque