Several large corporations are part of the ongoing federal effort to connect 99 percent of students across America to high-speed Internet within the next four-plus years.
The FCC announced a $2 billion down-payment that will bring broadband to 15,000 schools and 20 million students within two years. That includes $750,000 in commitments from several tech giants, including Apple ($100 million in iPads, MacBooks and other equipment), Sprint (free wireless access), AT&T (middle school networking), Autodesk (3D design software), Microsoft (discount Windows packages), O’Reilly Media (e-books) and Verizon (training educators in all 50 states).
“The entire economy will improve if more companies are doing better,” says President Obama in a press conference in Adelphi, Md., announcing the next phase of the ConnectED initiative. “In a country where we expect free WiFi with our coffee, we should demand it in our schools.”
Obama noted only 30 percent of students in the U.S. have high-speed Internet access in their classrooms, compared to 100 percent in South Korea. The average school, he says, has the same bandwidth as the average home, an issue given the number of people the bandwidth must serve.
While trumpeting ConnectED as an important piece of the puzzle to help both students and teachers move away from “teaching to the test” and allowing “more time to be creative,” Obama says technology is only part of the solution when it comes to improving the national education system.
Still, it’s an important component and one that more integrators and manufacturers are joining.
So, if you’re an integrator who’s wondering why you’re struggling to find more good, young talent to add to your payroll and groom as the future leaders of your company, ask yourself what you’re doing to help the students of today get the best education they can. Chances are you can do more.
If you use equipment from some of the tech giants that are pitching in to the ConnectED effort, see if there’s some way you can get involved. Maybe there will be chances to install the equipment in your local school district or maybe you know of an area where the need is particularly high.
The need for and reliance on technology is only going to become more acute so do what you can to help now. You’ll feel good about yourself and be helping students reach their full potential too.