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Business and Tech Education

How Access to High-Speed Internet Levels the Playing Field for Public Schools


Evan Marwell

Founder, EducationSuperHighway

What was the inspiration behind your founding of EducationSuperHighway?

My idea for EducationSuperHighway (ESH) actually all started with a conversation I had with a teacher at my daughter’s school in San Francisco. I asked the teacher if she knew about Khan Academy, the free online education project started by Salman Khan. The teacher told me she did, but that unfortunately, it wouldn’t work in their school. She told me that they had lousy Wi-Fi and that she had asked students to watch a TED Talk, and after only a few students tried to pull it up, the video stopped playing completely. I was shocked. If this was happening at my daughter’s school in the tech capital of the world, I couldn’t even imagine what the situation was like in the rest of the country. I did some digging and quickly realized that classrooms all across the country lacked the bandwidth needed to take advantage of digital learning – and I committed myself to change that.

What is the broadband gap and how is it affecting the quality of education in the United States?

Before ESH, the connectivity gap was one of the biggest problems facing public schools in America. Lack of high-speed internet prevented teachers and students from taking full advantage of the transformational power of digital learning — our children were trying to learn skills for tomorrow with dial-up speeds of the past. High-speed broadband is key to restoring our educational standing, and access to high-speed internet simply levels the playing field of opportunity.

What are the major roadblocks in getting high-speed internet in schools across America?

Affordability has been a major challenge for school districts. The cost of broadband access has continuously decreased since 2013 thanks to price transparency and technological improvements that have allowed service providers to deliver school districts with more bandwidth at no additional cost. However, affordability still remains a challenge for school districts as there continues to be significant variation in what districts pay for internet access, especially for higher-bandwidth circuits.

What active steps can school administrators take to make sure their school doesn’t fall behind?

Check out EducationSuperHighway’s Compare & Connect K-12 Tool to learn how much your school should pay for bandwidth and where you can get funding.

Where do you see the future of education going in a technologically dependent landscape?

With more teachers and students taking advantage of educational technology, the future of education is going to be dependent on school districts providing at least 1 mbps per student as the backbone for making digital learning pervasive in all classrooms to prepare our students for the changing economy.

What is the next step schools should take once they’ve implemented the broadband?

Successful network deployment depends on strong ongoing support and maintenance procedures, so consider how your existing maintenance policies and procedures need to be updated. Then, take advantage of all that digital learning can offer your students!

Staff, [email protected]

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