today issued a new paper for education leaders, titled “School-to-Home: Understanding Why 24/7 Access to Broadband is Essential to Student Learning.”
The report comes at a time when students increasingly must gain 21st century technology skills to succeed in life after high school. Despite the technological shift driven by rapid innovations, Pew Research estimates that approximately 5 million U.S. households with school-age children still do not have access to high-speed Internet at home.
The paper, which is part of CoSN’s Digital Equity and Smart Education Networks by Design (SEND) Initiatives, gives school leaders guidance to improve digital access in their communities.
“Learning today is increasingly delivered digitally, and that requires robust connections anytime, anywhere. School leaders should focus not only on at-school broadband and Wi-Fi access, but also closing the ‘Homework Gap’ outside of school – particularly at home,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “This new resource will help educational leaders think through the advantages and disadvantages of digital equity opportunities for the school-to-home connection.”
“School-to-Home” details the main barriers to extending broadband to homes nationwide. These include assessing size of the connectivity problem and addressing the need for adequate Internet access at home and in the community, particularly for students from low-income homes. Despite cost and lack of fiber or high-speed Internet availability, some districts are improving Internet access by promoting public Wi-Fi access, providing Internet in school parking lots and athletic fields, and establishing portable loaner Wi-Fi hotspots for student use to take home to do school work.
In addition, CoSN puts forth recommendations for districts to build and strengthen their networks and identifies funding opportunities for school systems to improve digital equity. These include leveraging capital expenditures, operational expenditures, federal and state funds, bonds, levies, grants, and in-kind and school-to-business partnerships to address digital equity.