While many educators are excited about the possibilities online and blended learning have to offer, digital access continues to be a stumbling block.
“Across the country, within many—if not the majority—of states, there are still areas where broadband access is very, very limited, and oftentimes these are schools and students who would most benefit through online and blended learning,” said David Teeter, director of policy for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning during an Internet Innovation webinar on broadband in education. “That gap still exists, unfortunately.”
Having broadband is the logical and necessary first step to adopting online and blended learning, but progress is being made. For instance, 30 states currently have virtual schools or initiatives, 30 states and Washington, D.C., operate more than 200 virtual charter schools, and 70% of school districts in the U.S. offer online courses to students, according to a list of statistics Teeter provided.
When broadband access is available, educators are able to use data systems and platforms to support learning. Broadband use will also make it easier for schools to prepare for the expected shift from printed textbooks to digital formats and make educational records more consistent across school and state lines.
“[These are] really exciting opportunities, but it’s really important that schools, districts, and states make sure the broadband capacity is in place to enable this,” Teeter said.