Education at the Speed of Light
With the Kent County Fiber Optic Network nearing the completion of its final phase, Kent County is on pace to become one of the most connected counties in the country. With public schools, community centers, and libraries being among the 66+ anchor institutions that make up the 110-mile fiber optic backbone, the benefits from the abundance in connectivity is expected to improve the quality of education in Kent County.
Benefits of Broadband in Education
In areas of high broadband availability, schools and educators are more likely to adopt a variety of educational technologies that can benefit teachers, students, and parents.
School organizations will be able to operate more efficiently as a whole with improved interoperability between multiple sites and through the availability of affordable cloud computing services that can help streamline many administrative functions.
Students and teachers can access a broad range of educational content, games, and resources. Broadband-enabled learning introduces more interactivity and personalized instruction in the classroom while adding the capability to reach students wherever learning may occur, such as in school, libraries, community centers, at home, or on mobile devices. These benefits can be used to tailor curriculum depending on the needs of each student which also creates new opportunities for students with learning disabilities.
Having abundance in broadband connectivity can also have a direct impact on the workforce of an entire community. Students become familiar with technology while using applications that can further development at a younger age. The learning that takes place in and out of the classroom begin to blend so that students are learning on demand, anytime, and any place. Adults now have access to many forms of continuing education through online GED, certification or college programs.
Advocating for Connectivity
Rural communities with limited connectivity are at a disadvantage when trying to compete in the 21st-century job market, which has an increasing demand for technology skills. The FCC reports that students with broadband at home have a 6 - 8% higher graduation rate1. Studies have shown that increased Internet usage leads to higher test scores, up to 15% in some cases2, stressing the need for rural communities to implement strategies for broadband infrastructure improvements.
Community leaders and organizations should combine their efforts when advocating for improved broadband infrastructure and equipment. Supporters should identify and research real-life scenarios where schools have adopted broadband-enabled learning and use these proven outcomes as a way to gain public or local government support in broadband expansion.