Broadband in SchoolsMarch 3, 2011
Internet connectivity in schools today is something that is often taken for granted but it’s only just over twenty years since the Internet was first used by schools, colleges and Universities for research purposes and sharing ideas. In the early 1990’s an Internet connection was, by modern standards at least, very slow. Connections were based on telephone lines offering in the region of 28kb per second. These dial up connections had their limitations but even so there were pioneer schools who started to look at ways of utilising the emerging technology.
In the mid to late 90’s connections improved as ISDN and ASDL lines were introduced into homes and schools. Suddenly it became possible to connect groups, or classes, at the same time. A range of new text based education sites developed and pupils were introduced to online quizzes and e-mail exchanges. The potential of these was quickly recognised, with the EU funding a European Virtual School and governments investing in research into the best uses of the world wide web for education purposes. Yet that experience, only some 10 years ago, is light years away from what is on offer today. Web 1.0 technology was exciting when it happened but show a child a text based website now, with few, if any, interactivities, and the odds are they’ll yawn fairly quickly!
The introduction of Broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity has opened up all sorts of educational opportunities. Now a teacher can download popular TV programmes; access CPD videos; interact with colleagues or classes, in real time, from around the world. This seems amazing and would have been considered a pipe dream by most a decade ago. Yet there are still schools who haven’t harnessed this technology or realised how connectivity is developing. Some still rely on connections established years ago; haven’t accessed resources provided by their Regional Broadband Consortium or enabled their pupils to communicate via a secure website or VLE. Others have made good use of the opportunities that the Internet offers and have quick, reliable connections and a range of online resources at their disposal. How many schools have considered where they are in relation to industry leaders though? How fast is your connection? What could be achieved if you had an even faster connection? Imagine all of your pupils being online at the same time: in most schools there would be time-outs, lost connections and a lot of frustrated pupils and teachers. However this should not be the case anymore. School Broadband can now provide connections of 160mps, ensuring that large numbers of pupils and / or teachers can be connected to multimedia rich online resources without any connection issues. This allows creativity, enables online administrative tools to be used seamlessly and allows teachers to be confident that they can access resources online, instantly.
How do you think that this increased speed and reliability will impact on your use of the Internet when teaching? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts.