How to Get Your School an A+ in Connectivity
It’s officially that time of year again. Yes, summer is coming to a close and students are heading back to classrooms where technology is more prevalent than ever before. Despite the demand for technology, the question is how are these classrooms stacking up when it comes to quality connectivity? Do they have the infrastructure needed to support their technologies and provide students a seamless learning experience?
Over the past few years, numerous initiatives have placed a focus on the importance of having reliable, high-speed connectivity in schools across the nation. Ultimately, digital learning requires robust broadband. To ensure these learning institutions have the proper solutions in place to fuel technology in the classroom, we’ve come up with three ways for schools to guarantee they get an A+ in connectivity.
Have Sufficient Bandwidth
As of last year, 99% of America’s K-12 public schools were connected to the web. While this is a step in the right direction, merely having an Internet connection isn’t enough to educate students in today’s technology-driven world. In fact, 63% of schools do not have the bandwidth necessary to meet the needs of today’s digital learning. Instead, the average school has approximately the same amount of bandwidth as the typical American home, despite the fact that it serves roughly 200 times as many users.
With technology being integrated into virtually every aspect of the education process – from online learning tools to e-textbooks, computer-based testing and more – schools need to provide a minimum of 100 Kbps per student and ubiquitous Wi-Fi to meet today’s standards. In addition, scalability can be an important offering to consider when choosing a carrier. As the number of students fluctuates during the year, schools that are able to scale services up or down based on need have the advantage of maintaining reliable connectivity. While many Tier 1 carriers do not offer this kind of flexibility, providers who own their own network (like us) can offer customized solutions based on the school’s unique needs. This way, everyone involved in education can fully use the power of technology to his or her advantage.
Plan for the Future
Selecting an Internet solution for a school or school district is no small feat, and decisions and implementation do not happen overnight. While simply installing fixed wireless circuits can be done for schools in 24 to 48 hours, installing a fiber network is in the 45 to 60 day range. Therefore, it’s important that decision makers give themselves enough time for the entire process and think ahead about a the needs and overall goals of the facility. For example, if a school simply wants individual classroom technology use, where a basic infrastructure is in place for the school, then moderate bandwidth should suffice. However, if it wants everyday 1:1 campus-wide technology or media-rich applications, it will need a higher amount of bandwidth with approximately 1.2 access points per classroom and 1 to 1+ Mbps per student.
In addition, with Internet standards constantly changing, schools cannot afford to get complacent with connectivity and must always be planning for the future. In fact, experts expect that in order to keep digital learning opportunities available to students, a school’s need for bandwidth grows 30-50% per year. Therefore, they predict that by 2018 schools will definitely need to have 1 Mbps per student and ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Leading us into our final point…
The best way for schools to stay on top of changes is by having a good relationship with a service provider. As experts in their field, they are able to guide schools in the right direction and ensure that classrooms have the connectivity needed.
At One Ring, education is one of our niches, and we have provided numerous schools in the Atlanta area with comprehensive and specialized Internet solutions to meet their individual needs, including Marist, Mt. Pisgah, Pace Academy and The Cottage School. Furthermore, with complete ownership of our network, combined with redundant circuits, our unique customer-focused philosophy and managed services, no school we serve has to worry about losing its connection or data. Instead, we give teachers and administrators peace of mind and the support they need so that they can focus on what’s really important – education.