Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Make Your Case for a District Network Upgrade: Build Your Business Case for Improving the Network Infrastructure for Your Schools

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Make Your Case for a District Network Upgrade: Build Your Business Case for Improving the Network Infrastructure for Your Schools

Article excerpt

Computer-based testing in schools has finally passed a milestone. In a recent survey of state policies, EdTech Strategies found most states will be giving end-of-year summative assessments in elementary and middle school via technology. That's just a single indicator of the extent to which education is undergoing a digital transformation.

That's not the only survey. More than nine out of 10 K-12 administrators said the effective use of technology in instruction was important for achieving their schools' core mission to educate and prepare students. That's according to a survey done by Project Tomorrow and Blackboard. Researchers measured increased acceptance among educators for digital content in the classroom, use of mobile learning through tablets and other devices, and the growth of online classes for students and online professional development for teachers.

These aren't simply casual statistics. They represent data you can use to build a business case for why your IT organization needs to improve Internet and network access and capacity in your district. The first data point lays out growth in digital testing among states that is seemingly unstoppable. The second points to the receptivity of district leadership to understand how technology intersects with the school mission of helping students learn. Wherever your district falls on these two spectrums, it's probably not the same this year as it was last year.

A third set of data points from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) examines the issues of affordability, network speed and capacity. These are two broad areas that continue to plague school districts as they try to keep up with the explosive demand for broadband and technology infrastructure. Understanding these numbers can help you get a feel for how other districts have set their IT goals, where they are in achieving those goals and how your schools compare.

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This year's "CoSN 2015 Annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey," developed with AASA, the School Superintendents Association, and marketing firm MDR, queried district administrators and technology leaders from 48 states. On the affordability front, three main challenges surfaced:

* Meeting on-going expenses (reported by 46 percent of respondents)

* Coming up with up-front or capital funding (34 percent)

* Dealing with extremely high costs for Internet and wide area network connectivity

Bandwidth capacity, the second major category of concern for K-12 IT leaders, is certainly another struggle. …

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