Shortly after its December 2014 decision to raise internet connectivity funding to schools by $1.5 billion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urged the technology industry to create innovative educational material.
“In the rest of the world, we have an infinite array of digital tools to change our civic and commercial lives. Yet somehow we’ve put up some barriers at the school doors,” Rosenworcel said. “It’s time we started inviting them in and wrestling with them and doing some good things.”
As a market estimated at $17 billion and with price increases in the last decade at 800%, Rosenworcel said the industry’s services burden educators and students alike. For example, the average K12 school district is only able to afford textbook purchases every 7-10 years.
As an alternative to traditional textbooks, the FCC would like to see more digital textbooks in the classroom, or the use of sites that not only provide knowledge, but also hold K12 students accountable to demonstrate their education with games, tests and other interactive assignments.
“If we can think about digitization in a way that makes kids not just consumers of educational content but creators, I think we’re going to develop a generation of students who are going to better serve our economy and better serve our world,” Rosenworcel said.
According to a release from the FCC, approximately 41% of rural public schools lack fiber networks that meet modern connectivity targets for digital learning. In urban and suburban public schools, that number is 31%. Additionally, about 40% of K12 school districts report high up-front capital costs of infrastructure that prevent upgrades.
The E-rate program, the nation’s largest supporting education technology, is hoping to drive the FCC’s long-term high-speed internet connectivity goals.
To learn more about the changes made to the E-rate program in 2015, click here.