There are substantial obstacles standing between where schools are today and where they must be if students are to fully receive the benefits of online learning. Though it is improving, the state of broadband infrastructure in America’s public schools is not where it needs to be to provide an equitable foundation for learning that supports all students. School districts across the country need rich examples of how the internet can be a bridge to learning for students, connecting technology clearly to curriculum and instruction.
These challenges are both technical and organizational. In order to address them, it will require a greater level of collaboration between education leaders and technologists moving forward. Further, national and state leaders will need to explore how open technology can be used to support the public interest, giving schools the tools they need to monitor and evaluate their networks to ensure classrooms have the connectivity required to support online learning.
Our case study of Virginia’s Alexandria City school district provides important lessons and recommendations that can help education leaders understand and strengthen broadband investment in schools across the country. Every state can help its schools avoid some of the growing pains of digital adoption by learning from these lessons, and investing today to improve future learning.