Oct 29, 2013

#inacol13 - Tuesday: Is Your Network Ready for Digital Learning?

Please note: These are rough notes. Editing may be needed and clarification may be needed upon further review. I apologize for any typos and/or incomplete/inaccurate information. Information entered in this blog is replicated out to various online outlets automatically.

Why I chose this one:
I was asked to attend this one in order to see what other folks are saying regarding bandwidth.

What I learned/Am learning:

Presented by EducationSuperhighway. Link: http://www.educationsuperhighway.org/

Mission: Upgrade internet infrastructure of every k12 public school in America.

Infrastructure upgrades required to deploy initiatives:
Common Core
Next Gen Assessments
STEM (address teacher shortages)

The focus has shifted greatly from Admins/Teachers on the network to students getting online.

Recommended 100Mbps for districts at a minimum. Most schools have 10Mbps (if even that).

Less than 10 Kbps per student is "Pre-Basic"
10-50 k/student = Basic
50-100 k/student = Emerging Reliance 
100+ k/student = Technology Rich

Each school is a different stage in the "life cycle" in terms of what they need/should have. Don't buy bandwidth just to "have it" if you don't need it.

Minimum requirements cover basic usage and an "all call" to get off the network during PARCC assessments.

Next-step is Teacher-Driven adoption and growth

Student-Driven network means more bandwidth.

Ultimately 1:1 Media-Centric rollout - every student has a device and is connected. Leadership is on board with student in-hand technology. Network becomes critical in terms of uptime.

Potential bottlenecks: What is size of pipe coming into the district. Lots of places, you cannot GET the connectivity. Other times, it is an issue of not subscribing to enough bandwidth. Many times, the filter/firewall is outdated and cannot handle the throughput required. The physical wiring set up and be an issue. Managed switches can direct and/or throttle throughput. The wiring itself can be old and degrade the quality of connection. Wireless access is a bottleneck: Is there enough bandwidth? Is there enough coverage? Is there too much coverage? Is it a managed solution? Incredible demand on Wifi if devices are constantly switching between access points. The wifi equipment itself can be an issue. And, the device can be the bottleneck: speed, age, capability, etc.

Information Gap > Expertise Gap > Procurement Gap > Policy Gap

  • Which schools need to be upgraded?
  • Schools need help with upgrade paths and plans. Schools may not have the staff to handle everything involved.
  • Can we get cost lowered for additional bandwidth? What about equipment? (Internet Pricing Portal)
  • Policy Gap: E-Rate 2.0
Schools not getting volume discounts. Why not partner to receive certain services. 

School Speed Test: Collect information from classroom access. Goal is to get 10 tests from every district. Roughly one minute test. Confirm location, run the test. SchoolSpeedTest.net - usually partner with state dept of ed. Measures continuous-use bandwidth. 

Ideally, test is taken through different devices in different locations on different days during the month. Data given to state depts of ed (where there is partnership) in order to help the DOE understand what is happening in the state.

Test results assessed against two goals: Online Assessment (PARCC) and Digital Learning (Online courses). 1Mbps/students/sec in 2017-2018 (SETDA)

72% of schools not meeting the minimum as of latest test data.

Data Infrastructure Assessment

  • 45-minute phone call and a 1.5 hour on-site visit - Zero cost to school districts for the 75 pilot schools. Would need to work with the non-profit regarding on-site visit.
  • Phone interview - What equipment they have, are buying. Can follow up with on-site. Provide supts with specific upgrade needs.
  • Take snapshot of the network and provide feedback in a color-coded, easy to read format.
Internet Pricing Portal
  • Collect data on what is being paid. This is done via Item 21 attachments. And sometimes a 30-minute phone call.
  • Reports on cost per megabit and where those costs "should" sit for what schools can provide
  • Fiber transforms the costs. Of course, this assumes fiber is even available to the schools.
  • Create a one-time upgrade fund to enable schools to meet realistic broadband goals for the next generation (fiber/wifi/etc)
  • Reform E-Rate administration of E-Rate to reduce costs.
  • Focus funds to building broadband infrastructure
*Personal thought: E-Rate needs to separate phone service from internet services. Ex: AT&T provides phone and DSL, but those are both listed as "Telephony" according to E-Rate. That is ludicrous. As an aside, I have very 'radical' ideas on changes to E-Rate and may share those later.

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