Without high-speed access to global information and services, distance education, cutting edge medical services and the marketable visibility of Web presence, remote communities
cannot thrive. These communities will continue to experience the economic and social attrition inevitable when connectivity with a wider world remains absent.
On these pages, we make a strong case for funding that would bring broadband infrastructure to remote and rural districts across Washington
You will find:
- Data that affirms the need for high-speed connectivity.
- School-level examples that demonstrate how no-and-slow connection speeds impact education.
- A snapshot of one successful program built because broadband was there.
- How broadband expansion across Washington will benefit K-12 education.
Connectivity Data │ The Case for Broadband │ Education Without Broadband │ Education Built on Broadband
A third of all school districts in Washington state have buildings in which educators and students are held back by slow Internet connection speeds.
19th Century Education in a 21st Century World
In a recent broadband study of five rural counties led by the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission, the reality of high-speed Internet connection outside major urban centers becomes clear.
The majority of students, who have reasonable access to the Internet and access to a reasonable Internet, is far below the national average of 54 percent. It follows that if the school cannot provide dependable connectivity, these children are challenged to keep pace with their urban peers.
Broadband is a key component in a comprehensive solution. And, although high-speed connection takes the lid off what educators can offer from a single, remote school building, without ongoing upgrades to bandwidth we will continue to limit our teaching talent to what is expedient—not what is possible.
Five Powerful Reasons for Broadband Connectivity Across Washington State
- Students connect with native and foreign language speakers to expand language skills. Language proficiency is the first step to academic enrichment and achievement.
- Student data needs the transport capacity of broadband. Current, high
quality data informs the way teachers and principals shape educational
programming. Learning that meets the needs of all students can mean the
difference between a life lost to illiteracy and transience, and a life of
equality and high expectations for success.
- Off-site special education services and training reach teachers and kids in multiple online formats.
- Recruitment and retention of AP instructors and highly qualified math and science teachers becomes possible. Schools eliminate the limits of on-site programs and professional development.
- Educational outreach that connects families and community to school life is not bound by immediate proximity. Parents, guardians and community members can take an active role in education.
High-speed broadband connectivity is a way to bring the latest and best instructional and assessment practices to thousands of students who must grow up to compete in a 21st century society.
Online content delivers a multi-modal way to extend the teacher. The immediacy of Web presence possible through video conference, email dialogue and interactive webinar introduces different perspectives on life and culture. These learning experiences achieve relevancy— the struggles, limits and potentials of problem solving in the real world move theory into practice for young learners.
Washington’s progressive move to online testing demands broadband-level connectivity. Powerful online assessments systems return test scores quickly and provide greater diagnostic information about student strengths and weaknesses. Slow, unreliable connectivity at the classroom level prevents this important state initiative from moving forward.
Broadband builds equity into the learning environment. Broadband will make it possible to reach and teach every student. Online learning is fast becoming a fundamental modality for K-12 education but it depends on high-speed connection and enough bandwidth to handle many concurrent users.
In Washington, thousands of students are penalized for where they live. Typically, areas with low population densities, towns located a distance from a major transportation corridor and communities in mountainous and heavily forested terrain are least and last served by the reach and power of broadband. Without this lifeline to a larger world, kids face limits on scholarship, achievement and personal growth.
Washtucna School District
Our community is small and remote which should not be a hindrance to receiving technology. Yet, we have limited access to high speed broadband. Students are limited to what they can download because video streaming and conferencing moves at a fast pace and our slow broadband is not able to keep pace with the transmission. Students are not able to get the information from colleges, major libraries or take advantage of internet streaming…Our students couldn’t even watch the Presidential Inauguration because we couldn’t stream the live transmission.
—Brian Hille, Technology Director, Washtucna School District
Colville School District
Our staff have access to You Tube and other educational resources but frequently experience time-out, sluggish or halting service. Our packeteer is configured to promote desirable traffic and minimize traffic related to bandwidth availability. “Di minimus” use is deferred to 3:00 pm to 7:30 am. We frequently experience network gridlock. It feels like running Ferraris on a go-cart track. As our expectations for technology grow, our team and community are ready to lean into challenges to provide compelling learning experiences for our children. We recognize the import of global, just-in-time information. Our desire is to provide equity access for all children and to help our students take pride in our communities.
—Larry Cada, Network Services Administrator Colville School District
Selkirk School District
While the internet can be a powerful equalizer for small, rural, communities, lack of adequate broadband access for homes, businesses, and support organizations continues to deepen the digital and economic divide. High-speed broadband access that is readily available and affordable to residents and businesses alike would create a vital educational and economic environment in our very remote and underserved community. High-speed broadband would allow opportunities to create educational partnerships with programs that train hydro workers, open opportunities for businesses to employ a non-place-bound workforce, and allow professional development opportunities for teachers without requiring that they travel over 200 miles roundtrip to access continuing education opportunities.
—Nancy Lotze, Superintendent, Selkirk Schools, Metaline Washington
Northport School District
Our area has the potential to provide an excellent education. We would like to leap frog to the next technology to provide excellent education for our children and a solid technological base for our businesses. The technology infrastructure will provide a community interface with opportunities currently beyond our capabilities. Such technologies would include high speed digital-video conferencing, high speed internet access for students, educational systems for managing student involvement, learning activities, launching educational content to distant students and systems for accepting assignments and recording outcomes, digital broadcast capabilities to reach students and involve students in production and distribution and finally a fully networked community that provides missing health, safety and educational services.
—LeRoy Key, Superintendent, Northport School District
Kent School District
The 1:1 program at Kent School District (KSD) models the power of broadband to transform the K-12 environment into a hub of ground-breaking instructional practice, and strategies for student and family engagement.
In 2005, the Kent Technology Academy opened at Mill Creek Middle School as a pilot small school within the greater Mill Creek campus. With three teachers and a 90-student enrollment that reflected the great diversity of the district, this school served as the testing ground for new ways of delivering instructional and assessment content.
One year later, an independent research firm found that the academy’s impact on student achievement, engagement and family involvement was highly advantageous – education built on broadband.
We have extracted several slides from a longer presentation developed by KSD’s Greg Whiteman and Stosh Morency that takes a close look at the policy and infrastructure components of successful tech integration.
View the Presentation (PPT) | Infrastructure & Systems | Staff & Student Training | 1:1 Student/Parent Handbook (PDF)
Broadband @Center of Learning – Two Stories from the Field
Quillayute Valley School District
Debbie Hull is the IT Director for the Quillayute Valley School District on the Olympic Peninsula. She knows firsthand how high-speed broadband can transform a learning environment. Her district depends on Washington’s K-20 network for educational delivery, professional development and administration. However, she was amazed by a profound change at the community level with the advent of high-speed connectivity. Fast download speeds and greater bandwidth at home have motivated students to extend their school day, checking out laptops to go above and beyond their assignments. “Home access to reference and resource materials adds hours of high quality learning time to each day and really enriches education for our kids.”
Goldendale School District
John Quinn is the technology director for the Goldendale School District, small rural area in South Central Washington. John points to the absolute dependency district operations have on broadband connection. Financial and student management systems, media for classroom instruction and connectivity for distance education—the services and content that drive school operations stream over the Internet. However, money is always short for hardware, software and maintenance. John plans to move his district to a cloud computing model, which will reduce costs and free up human resources that can be re-focused on teaching and learning. “Of course, all of this is 100 percent dependent on fast, dependable broadband access. No exaggeration. For rural schools and communities, broadband is our lifeline to a larger world.”