Those in the education industry are, by now, very familiar with the Common Core standards currently being implemented in schools across the country. The guidelines are being put in place in well over half the country – 43 states have voluntarily agreed to participate in the Common Core program. However, as adoption continues to increase, schools are noticing rising demands for network bandwidth in connection with the standards.
What is Common Core?
For those less familiar, Common Core is a set of standards developed by education leaders in 48 states. The point of the education guidelines is to provide a college and career-focused framework for students in kindergarten through high school in connection with lessons about English, math, language arts and literacy. According to the official website, Common Core was “designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.”
The program also has a specific set of technology skills that students are expected to know at certain grade levels. These include the ability to demonstrate knowledgeable use of computers and applications as well as having an understanding of the hardware, software and connectivity that make these actions possible.
A Need to Increase Bandwidth: Connectivity issues connected with Common Core
The standards not only call for increased use of technological devices, but also encourage an increase in online testing to replace paper forms. In today’s schools, students will be more familiar with computer-based tests than the Scantrons and Number 2 pencils required in the past.
However, this is creating significant issues when it comes to network bandwidth. Patrick Murphy, an education expert with the Public Policy Institute of California, told The Desert Sun that conversations surrounding Common Core usually center on textbooks, testing and computing devices. Network bandwidth is commonly overlooked as educators deal with more tangible requirements.
“We have the interesting, but perhaps unintended, Trojan Horse of Common Core raising questions about the connection capabilities in our schools,” Murphy said. “I think that’s an important conversation for us to have. We haven’t had it up until now, but we are going to have it.”
A number of educational institutions have run into connectivity issues when implementing Common Core standards, including Coachella Valley Unified, which recently handed out 19,000 tablets to students who likely couldn’t have otherwise afforded them. At the same time, however, the school’s bandwidth usage tripled due to the rise in mobile endpoints.
Instead of increasing bandwidth, however, the Riverside County Office of Education decided to cap Internet consumption at the school in order to reserve resources for Palm Springs Unified and Desert Sands Unified schools. This has resulted in a major curbing of online activity via the tablets, but Coachella Valley superintendent Darryl Adams said the devices will not be put back in their boxes.
“We will do what we need to do to [connect to the Internet],” Adams said. “We apologize if it infringes upon others’ opportunity to do it, but the state government, the local government and the federal government have to get on board and get ahead of this. It’s only going to get more and more taxing on everyone’s Internet in the future. We just happened to get the ball rolling, so to speak.”
Instead of limiting the online capabilities of students, school administrators need to more intelligently optimize available bandwidth in order to best support Common Core standards. Additionally, leveraging a wide area network, or WAN, can also be beneficial. Such a connection could provide a failover in the event that the main connection is overwhelmed. This keeps online processes up and running via a backup network.
Overall, technology is an essential part of modern education, but it can only be utilized effectively with proper network bandwidth support.