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Crossing the Digital Divide with Connected Education

Expanded Internet access and digital technologies are helping students reach their greatest potential.

In recent years, the face of education has changed as the result of innovations in the realm of digital technologies. Still, in large sections of the United States, a lack of funding coupled with unreliable and limited Internet access, is having an unfortunate impact on opportunities for individual and professional growth among younger segments of the population. It has been documented that close to one in four school districts nationwide, are unable to support the bandwidth required to address the learning needs of students in today’s digital world.

It’s a difficult reality for the majority of people to comprehend, but there are still large swathes of the United States that are lacking in reliable Internet—something most of us today consider a basic necessity. As digital technologies continue to shape our world, a large percentage of American schools and students are being left behind. Cisco’s Muhammed Chaudry discussed the situation in a blog post and explained, “While many schools throughout Silicon Valley have integrated technology into their classrooms, the digital revolution has left many behind.” The truth is that there are still too many American schools without the tools to support digital learning.

“In today’s hyper-connected world, delivering educational access overwhelmingly means providing access to the Internet. At school and at home, in the classroom and outside of it, students need access anytime, anywhere and on any device”—Cisco

There exists an achievement gap between students able to access digital technologies at home and in the classroom, and students who are not. As the world continues along the path to near complete digitization and online learning opportunities continue to grow, students with near limitless Internet access will be disproportionately better equipped to realize the benefits of digital learning than those who are not.

There is a broad assumption that the key to eliminating the digital divide in education lies in the modernization of network infrastructures. While this is certainly true, the solution to this complex problem is not simple. Once the infrastructure is in place, teaching students, parents, teachers and administrators to understand and use these new technologies will be critical if we wish to cross the digital divide.

“Today’s digital campuses and learning technologies require a robust network to support bandwidth heavy coursework and collaboration applications (video, voice, etc.), learning management systems and the multitude of devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones)”Jolene Tam, Cisco

Fortunately, the majority of tools being used in classrooms and at home for digital learning have become so simplified, intuitive and easy to deploy that once an underlying infrastructure is in place, it takes very little effort to learn how to use them. With Cisco’s Connected Classroom students and educators are easily able to collaborate in much the same way that tools like Cisco Spark enable seamless collaboration within the office. Resources can be accessed by students, educators and parents using their smartphones, tablets and connected devices in a secure environment on or off campus.

“With Cisco’s Connected Classroom, students can learn how they learn best: anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Whether on or off campus, in a flipped classroom model, students and educators have highly secure access to educational resources using their smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.”—Cisco

It is the job of parents, educators, administrators, IT service providers and technology innovators to shape the future leaders of our country and while we’ve come a long way, there is still a good distance to travel before we’ve eliminated the digital divide. Fortunately, Cisco is working hard to develop and implement technologies to help bring the power of connected education to every classroom and every home, nationwide.

If you’d like to learn how at iConvergence, we can help to bring transformational digital technologies into the classrooms of Louisiana, reach out or leave a comment below.

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