Posted by David Rutledge on October 3rd, 2014
The Trumann School District is fortunate. We are entering the third year of our 1:1 technology initiative where 1652 students have their own device. Many students are able to take devices home each day. While belts have been tightened and close scrutiny over budgets is commonplace for all schools, we have been able to provide the essential technological tools needed for students to be today’s successful learners. Beyond the financial means and vision to provide our students with the learning experience to prepare them for the 21st century, we also have a strong partnership with our local Internet service provider. Acquiring and maintaining devices for students poses a significant obstacle for each district to overcome; yet an equally important obstacle for many schools is gaining access to adequate and affordable bandwidth.
Yet again, Trumann is fortunate. Our community has a local service provider who has truly become a partner in our 1:1 technology initiative. Our service provider has not only provided the necessary infrastructure to deliver more than enough reliable bandwidth to support approximately 1800 student devices and has worked with our school district to maximize the use of our bandwidth while maintaining low service costs. In fact, our service provider is so excited about our 1:1 initiative, they committed to a direct partnership with the school district, parents, and students by providing low-cost, high speed, wireless Internet connectivity to student’s homes. As one of sixteen New Tech Schools throughout the state, reliable, affordable connectivity for our students outside the school day is an essential part of the success of our 1:1 initiative and overall learning student learning experience.
While Trumann is fortunate to have a close partnership with our local service provider, many school districts throughout the state do not have this opportunity. The availability of reliable, steady bandwidth varies dramatically across the state. While Trumann is extraordinarily fortunate in this regard many school districts, especially in rural areas of the state, are equally unfortunate. Even if schools have availability in their area, the access is typically limited and the cost to provide adequate bandwidth varies significantly which places an undue and unfair burden on school budgets.
As a New Tech School, the availability of technology and connectivity play an integral role in student learning. Our teachers create and implement real-world projects throughout their subjects, and these projects require students to have access to both the technology and connectivity to work throughout and beyond the school day. Students are gaining the skills necessary to be successful in either college or a career. Without access to stable, affordable Internet, students throughout the state will lose access to the invaluable resources such as e-books, web-based learning tools, and current research the Internet provides, not to mention the potential collaboration for students within the district and across the world.
FASTERArkansas is working to elevate this issue. Every school in the state should be as fortunate as students in Trumann. The need for stable, reliable, low-cost Internet access to students in schools is essential to student learning. Connecting to the Internet is no longer a luxury for students and schools it is a necessary tool for success. Check out FASTERArkansas for information on how you can help students gain access to tools that they will need to succeed.
David Rutledge is the Assistant Superintendent of the Trumann School District, an Apple Distinguished School District, and leads the district’s New Tech and 1:1 technology initiatives.
Learn more about Trumann School District.