CoSN’s 2018-2019 Infrastructure Survey highlights the progress and challenges school districts are facing today in their efforts to increase connectivity and Wi-Fi in classrooms. Most (92%) school districts now meet the FCC’s goal for minimum broadband connectivity of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students, yet recurring costs are still the main barrier for schools in their efforts to increase connectivity.
The Annual Infrastructure Report is based on the results of responses to 59 questions by 386 school districts throughout the country, with one authorized response per district. Several additional IT-related questions were added, reflecting the increased complexity of variables now commonplace within school districts’ infrastructure.
Read: Survey Report
- The good news is that the majority of respondents (69%) stated that they are “very confident” in their networks ability to support their Wi-Fi connectivity needs—a nearly 10% increase from last year. This is important as the use of technology, along with the demand for technology-related solutions and services by faculty and students, continues to grow each year.
- Broadband to classrooms continues to improve, and many districts can now offer digital learning platforms. However, many rural schools lack affordable broadband access.
- Fewer than 10% of districts report students having access to computers or mobile devices at home, limiting digital learning opportunities and putting students at a competitive disadvantage to their better resourced peers.
- Cybersecurity is still a big challenge for school district leaders, and 52% say breach detection is their highest concern.
The FCC’s latest E-Rate Modernization Order has enabled school districts to achieve a level of connectivity that might otherwise be out of reach. Digital ecosystems have benefited from decreasing connectivity fees, better WAN transport options, more scalable Wi-Fi, and the emergence of cloud solutions. While these improvements have reduced certain burdens, other factors, such as off-campus equity (regarding access to devices and broadband outside of school), interoperability, and network security, are gaining importance.
The bottom line is that a district’s struggle to improve its network infrastructure—and remain current with the teaching and learning systems that digital technology supports—requires diligent, ongoing effort from IT, faculty, and staff.