educational technology state leadershipThe State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) with the help of Common Sense Kids Action recently assembled a report to provide information and insight about state policies and practices influencing broadband and WiFi implementation.  The research was conducted with the goal of affirming the importance of state leadership on issues regarding student and educator access to high-speed connections.

The report, titled, “State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity and Access,” was organized around four topics: K-12 broadband and WiFi connectivity; state leadership for infrastructure, state broadband implementation highlights; and state advocacy for federal support of broadband.

The authors acknowledge major strides have been taken in regards to redefining the role of technology in education.  Now seen as a critical component and the “new normal” for education, funding in the amount of $1.65 billion was allocated for technology via the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Unfortunately, only 15% of the 60% allocated for supporting effective use of technology can be used to build infrastructure.  SEDTA believes lack of infrastructure to be the greatest barrier that currently exists for implementing technology in education.

As for state leadership, SEDTA has seen a shift in state policy directing the implementation of technology to support digital learning.  With legislators taking more innovative actions to both fund and enforce greater use of technology in schools, now 60% of all states have favorable broadband for education policies.  Utah is one of the twenty-eight states that has a high-speed network connecting all or most of the school districts and public schools across the state.  The Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) has led this effort, leveraging E-rate funding and utilizing a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant to connect schools across Utah.

SETDA has been a significant policy influencer over the last few years.  The group has worked with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on several issues, including E-rate modernization and improving standards of access and speed requirements for schools.  SETDA members have also provided recommendations and information for updating the National Education Technology Plan, and provided comment throughout the Every Student Succeeds Act legislative process.  Rick Gaisford from the Utah State Office of Education currently serves on the board for SETDA.

State level efforts to encourage broadband development continue to play an important role in ensuring preparation for the current and future technological landscape.  The Utah Broadband Outreach Center provides ongoing guidance and support for broadband stakeholders throughout the state.

To read the full report, click here:

https://www.setda.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/State-K-12-Broadband-Leadership_SETDA_CommonSense_April12016.pdf