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Broadband Matters: Education

High speed broadband is changing the education landscape. 

  • Educators can provide a curriculum without boundaries.
    • Paperless standardized testing
    • Online textbooks
  • Students across Iowa have the same access to information to compete in our global society.
    • 1:1 mobile device deployment
    • Participate in online courses
    • Video Conferencing

With broadband availability, a culture is created in which learning becomes more interactive in and outside of the classroom allowing for a more positive collaborative learning experience. John Carver, Superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek Community School District (CSD), says, “Right now today, Broadband is a determining factor in instruction. A child’s education in Iowa isn’t limited by where they are physically, it’s limited by broadband access.”

To ensure a level playing field for Iowa students, many school districts implement ‘1 to 1’ deployment. This initiative gives every student a digital device with access to broadband service at their school.

The implementation of broadband does of course change the nature of education in Iowa. This new reality is forcing educators to look at how lessons are delivered and even the environment in which students learn. “Classrooms look more like Barnes and Noble bookstores with flexible space. All of our [Howard-Winneshiek] classrooms have Apple TV’s so teachers are able to capture whatever a student is seeing and project it on the Apple TV,” said Carver.

High speed broadband access is not only important as a learning tool for students, it is important to the very survival of smaller rural school districts. The Corner Conference has a total of about 2,200 students from seven (7) high schools [East Mills, Fremont-Mills, Sidney, Nishnabotna, Essex, South Page, and Stanton], and gives the opportunity for neighboring school districts to share staff resources, such as Spanish, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Calculus teachers.

Gregg Cruickshank is the Superintendent of the Sidney CSD and South Page CSD where enrollment has declined 40% in the past 10 years. “It’s [broadband] allowing our small school districts to continue to stay in existence, and not just stay in existence, but also thrive in terms of providing opportunities for kids,” Cruickshank says. Without high-speed Internet the participating Corner Conference schools wouldn’t have bandwidth for two vitally important pieces that connect the collaboration: 1 to 1 computing and IP video conferencing.  The startling fact is if broadband wasn’t available, none of the schools would be able to provide their students with these types of courses due to class size and/or teacher experience.

As an example, the Corner Conference offers classes like high school English or Spanish taught from one location where students at other nearby schools take part in the course. An online business lab features a teacher facilitating a class in which students can take college credit courses in business and marketing.  “We’re almost to the point where we have created a virtual high school so to speak, and technology is a key component. Broadband access is critical to that.” Cruickshank says.

Printed from the website on April 25, 2018 at 5:15am.