ARLINGTON, Va. – Essential to running a school building these days: water, electricity — and broadband.
Technology is changing the way students are taught and tested. But there’s a catch — most of it is occurring in schools that have rich connectivity to the Internet. Although nearly every school has Internet access, classrooms frequently are not connected or the connections are super slow. The hurdle is limited capacity to transmit data, or bandwidth.
The effort to get high-speed Internet access in every school got a boost Wednesday from two technology gurus — Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates. Zuckerberg’s Startup: Education and Gates’ foundation have contributed a combined $9 million to the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway, a San Francisco-based nonprofit working to improve connectivity in schools.
“When schools and teachers have access to reliable Internet connections, students can discover new skills and ideas beyond the classroom,” Zuckerberg said.
The funds are expected to be used to provide technical expertise to schools and use competition to help drive costs down. It likely would cost billions to get high-speed Internet access to every U.S. school. President Obama has set a goal of having 99 percent of students connected to high-speed Internet connections within five years.