Connecting Students Outside of School Access
Ensuring this needed resource for students outside of school can be difficult, especially in rural areas.
The federal program, Connect2Compete (C2C) helps to provide K-12 students affordable internet and devices to students and families that qualify for the National School Lunch Program.C2C is offered in partnership with leading cable companies, including Cox, Bright House Networks, MediaCom, Suddenlink, Comcast’s internet Essentials and others. Eligible customers receive internet for as low as $9.95 per month (plus tax). Some districts have worked with local internet service providers to support home access. Others provide subsidies to families in the district to assist with the cost of access to the internet at home, while still others support and rely on other publicaly accessible institutions to provide access to the internet. While many commercial establishments such as coffee shops and restaurants do provide internet access, relying on them to provide internet access to students outside of school can raise a host of ethical problems.
Home access to broadband is arguably as important to the overall quality of a student’s learning experience as access at school—and it is a key strategy in extending learning time. Connected students are able to get homework help and submit their assignments online. They can use the connection to collaborate with fellow students after school, access research materials, develop multimedia projects, and use advanced features of digital textbooks. Without broadband in the home, device programs such as 1-to-1 can lose a great deal of their effectiveness. As the Digital Textbook Collaborative noted in its 2012 report, “Digital Textbook Playbook,
“While schools must be connected in order to create a successful digital learning environment, digital learning cannot only happen at school. To accomplish truly ubiquitous learning, students must be able to connect outside the school walls.”
In the National Broadband Plan, home access to a high-speed internet connection is described as “critical to maximizing utilization.”SETDA’s Broadband Imperative recommends:
“The federal government, states, and districts take responsibility for ensuring easy access to robust broadband connectivity outside of schools including, but not limited to, the home and publicly accessible institutions to libraries and community centers.”