90714 Broadband Use by Everyone

Competency learning funding to complement seat time system;

Data driven reporting and decision support;

Broadband use by everyone;

Teacher transformation for the digital age;

Global digital curriculum access with effective application.

The dream of the information superhighway of the early 1990’s has been realized, hasn’t it? We all have one or more internet linked computers at our fingertips. Our homes and offices have technology offerings far beyond our ability to learn to use it. And here lies the rub, this plethora of technology is used for automating everything we do, except leaning – including learning how to use all this …. technology.

The only way we can change this system is for us, and more importantly for K-12 education, to implement a long range on-going transformation of the system. We cannot address this task as a half way, expedient effort. We must address all Arizona K-12 students, and we must address all aspects of the system. In the past Arizona installed computers at a rate of one for every eight students and wired schools without effective professional development, digital curriculum or broadband access. This time we need to turn this formula around. We need to assure that broadband is in place to be a foundation of our eLearning system.

K-12 education requires a systematic statewide assessment of current and projected accessibility to cost-effective broadband. This map must be correlated with the access needs of all K-12 schools as well as their population areas. Broadband planning for middle-mile and last mile must address specific application areas where K-12 education is paramount.

Schools are unique users of broadband. Without adequate bandwidth the school Internet will slow to a crawl at about 9 a.m. Administrators of a building can schedule their work around this issue, but for 500 to 1500 students hitting their learning stride its not acceptable.

The FCC has defined broadband minimums as 768 kpbs downstream and 200 kpbs upstream to the end user. For schools the need – not the definition – must prevail. Bandwidth need will depend on student population grade level, digital curriculum applications, use of online learning, the number of computer interfaces and connection to homes and the general community. This need is expected to grow significantly over the years. Based on historical evolution of technology and systems we might expect an increase  by a factor of 10 over the next ten years.

One example would be the academic use of the evolving Semantic Web over what will become Web 3.0. When the Semantic Web is operational instructional programs will become much more capable of supporting individualized learning to subject mastery.

For the next two years, Arizona must map, assess and plan to bring effective broadband access to all of Arizona’s application and community needs – including K-12 education. In parallel, the physical build out must continue unabated. This planning-implementation effort must have a ten year horizon to secure the benefits of emerging technology and address the surging needs.

Arizona needs to:

  1. Produce enabling legislation and multiyear funding for the Government Information and Technology Agency (GITA) to map, plan, and implement the needed State leadership and telecommunications industry support to assure K-12 schools and communities have adequate accessible bandwidth over the next ten years.
  2. Produce enabling legislation and multiyear funding as needed to assure that GITA and other Arizona agencies and entities are competitive in securing federal funds to support broadband build out and use.
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