Imagine a classroom with wi-fi versus one without. The former can launch a 1:1 iPad program, BYOD, and deploy all kinds of new technology. The latter classroom is tethered to a single desktop or laptop computer at best.
Now, imagine that you don’t have any internet connectivity at all. As prices rise and data gets capped, it’s not surprising to see this becoming a likely future for many educators around the globe.
Some are trying to reverse the current trend and actually trying to make internet connectivity affordable. In Chicago, Comcast and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have just announced the second year of its trendsetting Internet Essentials program. Basically, people in Chicago can get internet access for $10/month with no price increases, activation fees, or additional costs. It’s helped more than 400,000 people get connected.
So what if we did this for schools in the U.S. and other countries? What if Internet was either cheap or free? How would that work? Here are my 5 reasons and explanations as to why I think internet connectivity should be considered a right and not a privilege.
Learning is now a global process
The U.S. and Europe may be the biggest players in terms of higher education right now. But there are a lot of other cities and countries catching up faster than you can imagine. Why should places like the U.S. and Europe try to compete?
Should we instead pursue a globally-connected worldwide classroom that focuses on advancing the age of education through connectivity? In other words, why shouldn’t all classrooms around the world be able to talk to each other?
Web-based tools are must-have supplements
Edudemic is all about sharing tools and trends on a daily basis. We’ve gotten to where we are (not far, granted, but still…) because there’s a real need for teachers around the world to find new and exciting web-based tools.
What if all classrooms had internet connectivity? It would let all teachers have a global PLN that lets them ask questions, research new tools, and do just about anything. Let’s not forget about the fact that all the future tools heading to the classroom are essentially web-based. If we offered free internet access, more classrooms could test and implement more tools. Simple as that.
Time to accelerate learning
The constant debate / battle over education reform, standardized testing, and other hot-button issues has taken its toll on the overall education process. Students and teachers alike (just read through this article for a first-hand account) have to now spend way too much time on paperwork, proving that their classroom is doing good enough, and basically not spending time on learning.
If we had free internet access in all classrooms, we could streamline this reporting process and have automated tracking that lets teachers spend more time teaching. It may sound a bit Big Brother-y, but it’s worth considering.
Devices shouldn’t be limited
Classrooms are like bunkers. Spreading a wi-fi network across an entire school, let alone an entire college campus, is very expensive. You need a pantload of routers, switches, IT staff, and more. If the actual internet access was free, the cost to set up these kind of networks would be lowered.
Therefore, more classrooms could implement 1:1 or BYOD classrooms… and actually have wi-fi connectivity. I’ve already heard of schools that have given out iPads before giving out wi-fi support. That’s like handing someone the world’s most advanced calculator. Disconnected iPads are good for a few things but they obviously shine with connectivity. Let’s start clearing some of the major hurdles between our current state and the future of connected learning.
It’s actually quite easy to pay for
Don’t laugh. Giving out free internet access would pay for itself in the long run. It would allow students and teachers to create a better future thanks to advanced and accelerated learning. But in the short-term, you can pay for free internet access by having all schools / districts band together to enter into talks with internet providers like Comcast, Time Warner, etc.
In exchange for supplying free access, these companies could own certain advertising and sponsorship space. Everything is advertising-driven these days so why fight it? The corporatization of anything in education usually gets one’s heckles up… but it makes sense this time. The internet companies aren’t going to make a mint off education but they should do it because they can chalk up their efforts to giving back to the community.
We’re all accustomed to seeing ad-supported tools every day (ever downloaded a free app?) so let’s turn those ads into getting something that will enhance the learning process forever.
How would you pay for free internet access to schools? What would you do with free access for your entire school? How do you think it would change the future of learning? Weigh in down in the comments or on the Edudemic Facebook page!