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

Determining Bandwidth Needs for 21st Century Learning: Some Guidelines

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

Determining Bandwidth Needs for 21st Century Learning: Some Guidelines

Article excerpt

According to the 2016 K-12 IT Leadership Survey, conducted by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), nearly 90 percent of K-12 IT leaders throughout the country expect their instructional materials to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years. EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit focused on upgrading the Internet access in every public school classroom, has also reported that bandwidth needs in K-12 are increasing almost 50 percent every year.

According to a 2015 FCC report, though, 68 percent of all school districts in the country acknowledge not a single school in their district could meet the FCC's long-term high-speed Internet connectivity target (described as 1 Mbps per student by 2018).

Given those reports, it's more important than ever for IT consider a number of different issues that impact bandwidth requirements, including the type of digital learning applications being used, such as video, as well as on-line assessments, and administrative functions. The following guidelines can help.

The Potential Broadband Bottleneck

Recently, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) revised recommended minimum bandwidth targets for the 2020-2021 school year. According to SETDA, district leaders should plan internal capacities of ranging from 300 Mbps for small districts, up to 2Gbps per 1,000 students/staff for an external connection to the Internet service provider and 10 Gbps for the district Wide Area Network.

Even that goal can be somewhat misleading in regards to broadband digital learning applications, especially video. While it's important to evaluate the bandwidth requirements of individual applications, IT leaders also need to consider the impact of an application in total. That is, what happens when X-number of students in X-number of classrooms across X-number of schools in a district are simultaneously running a specific application?

Smart Education Networks by Design (SEND) created a scaled reference for the SETDA guidelines, using an active video session as an example. The scale shows that when 30 active video sessions are happening per room and there are 50 classrooms, the campus bandwidth requirement is 1 Gbps.

SETDA also notes there is no one-size-fits all model for digital learning. Bandwidth requirements will vary depending on the number of concurrent network users, the type of digital learning applications being used, and usage patterns. …

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