A growing number of K-12 school districts across the country are embarking on mobile BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and 1-to-1 learning initiatives. While some districts are aggressively pursuing these initiatives, others are just now realizing the positive academic impacts and consequential network demands of such programs. The use of technology in the classroom by teachers and students is dramatically increasing. For a high percentage of school districts, their existing broadband connections aren’t meeting current or future needs.
East Side Union High School District is no different. The network bandwidth, which used to fully support faculty and administrator access to district systems, no longer fits the bill. To support three 1-to-1 pilots and a BYOD policy which has yielded more than 15,000 new devices on the network, we’re expanding our underlying network bandwidth exponentially beginning in the fall. We’re migrating to AT&T Switched Ethernet to increase bandwidth to 10GB at our District Office (Hub) and 1- 3 GB at all 13 school locations.
Meeting Expectations and Expanding Horizons
For students accustomed to having Internet access anywhere, slow or non-existent connectivity at school seems counter intuitive and can make school a strange and backward place. For students who don’t have a mobile device or broadband Internet access at home, providing greater network resources and access on campus can be a great equalizer.
At East Side Union, we’re already seeing success from our 1-to-1 program. Students who had previously failed courses but never had behavior issues aside from truancy have substantially increased attendance, and the majority of the students in the pilot are no longer failing a single class. We believe that keeping the District’s underlying network both robust and responsive is foundational to this success – ensuring that our students are properly supported and can efficiently explore and research online, no matter their age or subject.
Technology is reshaping the 21st century classroom, benefiting both teachers and students. In addition to a focus on mobility initiatives supporting tablets and smartphones, having a strong network infrastructure is an essential element which shouldn’t be overlooked.
Randy Phelps is the Director of IT Services for the East Side Union High School District. He has written this guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog.