Schools have two different areas they can spend their scarce IT dollars. They can buy tablets for their students or they can invest in a robust network infrastructure. I have been advocating for the network upgrades but providing iPads is more visible from the school board’s perspective. The problem is, the iPads aren’t nearly as useful without good online access.
As public schools nationwide embrace instruction via iPads, laptops and other technologies, many are realizing they lack the necessary broadband speed to perform even simple functions. This is crimping classroom instruction as more teachers pull lesson plans off the Internet and use bandwidth-hungry programming such as video streaming and Skype.
An estimated 72% of public schools have connections that are too slow to take full advantage of digital learning, according to EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit that tests school broadband speeds and works to upgrade Internet access. The average school has about the same speed as the average American home, while serving 200 times as many users, according to the Obama administration. Expanding high-speed Internet in schools involves upgrading wiring, expanding Wi-Fi capabilities or simply spending more money to purchase faster service.
Yep, saw that coming. Computers and tablets are cheap and getting cheaper all the time. In just a few years time you will be able to buy tablets for less than $50 ( the first ones are appearing soon ). Literally every student will have one. Schools have to get ready for this influx of devices.
If you think the bandwidth problems are bad now with just HD video, just wait until we have telepresence and 4K video added to the mix. Eventually we will have a nation wide fiber optic network with will help solve this problem. Still, there are things schools can do now to help. Just keep in mind, giving out iPads is just the start of an effective learning process.