- With tech moving ever closer to ubiquity in the nation's K-12 classrooms, district administrators must act now to modernize their network infrastructure and avoid problems later, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- One way districts can improve capacity on their networks is to upgrade network switches, and EdTech suggests starting with network management systems by considering what features and functions are most-needed alongside what options are compatible with existing management and operational tools.
- Additionally, districts should perform regular audits of network requirements to ensure their systems are up to par, take a closer look at assumptions regarding network capacity planning, and give thought to where the switches will reside within a school's physical space.
The cost of putting a tablet or notebook in the hands of every student in a classroom has fallen considerably enough in the last few years to now make it a realistic option for many schools and districts, and many have taken the initiative. Digital resources offer benefits both educationally and financially, with many engaging and interactive options that can be made to fit increasingly personalized learning environments while often costing less in the long run than purchasing updated physical textbooks. But maximizing their effectiveness requires modernized broadband networks and reliable connectivity.
More than just 1:1 programs and digital resources broadly, however, there's one significant reason schools and districts must now concern themselves with ensuring their networks can handle a heavy student load: standardized testing.
A number of states are moving their annual mandated standardized tests to a digital format, and out-of-date networking infrastructure can hinder students on these high-stakes exams. One of the biggest concerns is that a network might crash if there's not enough bandwidth to handle the load of all of a school's students taking tests at the same time. The FCC's E-rate program can assist schools with funding for these upgrades to an extent, but administrators must also make clear to state policymakers that if tests are to be required in this format, that additional funding must be provided ahead of time for infrastructure upgrades and planning/training, lest entire schools might suffer from the lack of adequate resources.