Creating Scalable, Affordable and Reliable Education Networks

CoSN Issues Guidelines to Equip School Leaders with Insight and Strategies to Overcome Network Investment Challenges
Washington, DC
Monday, March 3, 2014

Washington, DC (March 3, 2014) – As part of its Smart Education Networks by Design (SEND) initiative, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) today released the first phase of comprehensive guidelines to support K-12 chief technology officers (CTOs) in building, strengthening, and maintaining durable education networks. These networks support technology-rich 24/7 learning. The initiative provides guidance to district leaders on the current and future digital K-12 landscape and identifies best practices and solutions to design, implement, and manage networks to support district strategic plans and processes. 

CoSN’s SEND initiative, which is made possible through the support of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, is designed to empower teaching and individualized learning by designing networks, developing the next generation of network infrastructure, delivering digital content, and administering online assessments.

“In today’s dynamic education landscape, everyone shares the goal of providing our children with the best opportunity to prepare for college and career success. Doing so, however, requires strong investment in establishing a school system-wide infrastructure that enables connectivity and innovation at all learning levels,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “The initial resource launched today will better lead CTOs toward designing, deploying, and leveraging ‘smart education networks.’ Smart education networks must be resilient and durable, and are a critical investment in maximizing student achievement and ensuring continuous progress in classrooms across America.”

The guidelines provide district technology leaders with insight on the current landscape of education networks, including school-wide information technology, data and capacity, network design considerations, connectivity – both on and off campus – as well as device capabilities. The exploration of these issues is accompanied by proven examples of districts nationwide that are bolstering their infrastructure and connectivity to the meet challenges created by growing student demand and personalized learning environments.

“Qualcomm supports anytime, anywhere learning using both Wi-Fi and cellular networks to ensure all students have access to their learning materials 24/7,” said Vicki Mealer-Burke, senior director of business development of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “The SEND guidelines provide a vendor neutral resource and are an important step towards providing school districts with guidance on how to future-proof their network design in support of 1-to-1 programs.”

In addition, CoSN provides an outlook on education networks needed to support the adoption of innovative learning models that have driven 1-to-1 computing and mixed device environments.  

The education network guidelines include the following core recommendations:

  • Recognize that education networks have become one of the most critical infrastructure components of any school’s operations.
  • Recognize that 1-to-1 or many-to-1 and Bring Your Own Device/Technology programs are becoming mainstream, and plan for bandwidth capacity accordingly.
  • Start every education network planning and upgrade process by closely consulting with teachers and administrators regarding intended classroom technology use and ensure that network hardware and services are capable of supporting peak loads.
  • Plan for substantial and sustained training and support of teachers and staff as part of any technology rollout.
  • Understand that accessing content and resources while outside the classroom is as critical to effective learning as in-class connectivity.
  • Ensure that rigorous security measures, regardless of the connection type, are built into the network design to prevent unauthorized access to network content and resources, as well as comply with federal and state student protect on laws.
  • Make design choices that lay a foundation for the future – both scalability and the ease with which new device capabilities and technologies can be supported.

In addition, the guidelines urge leaders to recognize that a high percentage of a student population may not have high-speed broadband at home. To support 24/7, schools need to utilize both Wi-Fi and cellular networks as part of their design and acquire devices that are mobile broadband enabled.

The guidelines are a critical step in providing district technology leaders/Chief Technology Officers the information they need to enable President Obama’s vision of ConnectED and the work of the Federal Communications Commission to upgrade, modernize, and expand the E-Rate to enable 21st century learning. 

The Guidelines are the first in a series of resources CoSN will introduce through the Smart Education Networks by Design initiative. Learn more about the initiative and access the SEND Guidelines and the SEND Checklist at

About the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit or call 866-267-08747 to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership and the CETL certification exam.

Focus Area: