Schools need reliable Internet access, superintendents sayDecember 11, 2013
What’s the biggest technological challenge for B.C. schools? It’s not access to the latest gadgets or devising new teaching methods to make optimal use of online resources, according to West Vancouver superintendent Chris Kennedy.
It’s bandwidth – the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another within a given period of time.
“The story often told is that we don’t have enough technology, or that teachers are not ready to make the pedagogical shift. Yes, those are factors, but not the ‘number one’ issue,” he wrote in a recent post on his Culture of Yes blog.
“Surveying these teachers at the end of last year, we learned that about one-third of teachers are looking for more support with the changing pedagogy of the digital classroom; about the same number referenced the need for more technical support, and close to 90% indicated improving Internet speed needs to be a priority.
“While it is tremendously exciting what is happening in our classrooms, the spinning wheel in the middle of the screen can be a real downer.”
Kennedy acknowledges that B.C. leads the country in Internet connectivity and his district is in better shape than most others. But with more and more classes using online data, he says there is a pressing need for infrastructure improvements.
“We are making a promise to create engaging learning environments for our students through personalized learning powered by digital access. We will continue accessing the Internet and we need it to be as reliable as heat, light and telephone service in our schools. We also need to get on with this challenge – if we wait on it longer, there will only be larger barriers in the years ahead.”
Jordan Tinney, deputy superintendent in Surrey, takes a similar position.
“Network connectivity has become like the air we breathe,” Tinney writes on his blog Ed Praxis – Philosophy in Action, noting that utilization of bandwidth in his district exceeds 90 per cent daily.
“Investment in bandwidth is a critical piece of the overall investment in public education if we are going to get to the future we envision,” Tinney writes. “Clearly, as our own internal data shows, the car we’re driving does not have enough gas to take us to our desired destination. Hopefully a better model with sufficient fuel is just around the corner.”
Read his full post here.