December
10th 2013
EAGLE-Net Broadband Delays Test Patient Hopes for Digital Learning Policies

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance

The power and potential of blended learning stand out in several ways. It can give students more control over their education — like having a customized playlist — and enable them to advance at their own pace. It can expand the reach of effective teachers and allow them to focus time more efficiently on what they do best. It can foster more innovation to speed up the process of building effective learning systems. And it can do all that without requiring new revenue.

Some of the greatest potential to help students lies in Colorado’s rural areas, and some districts have begun to embrace the possibilities. But in order to make blended learning work, they have to access digital technology in the form of high-speed Internet access. Hence, an eye-catching new story by Andy Vuong in the Denver Post (H/T Complete Colorado):

EAGLE-Net Alliance hopes to connect 80 percent of Colorado’s school districts to its taxpayer-funded broadband network by the end of next year, president Mike Ryan told state lawmakers Monday.

EAGLE-Net has been overseeing a major federal grant program to connect Colorado school districts to broadband technology. Charges about the group’s work led to Congressional hearings earlier this year. The project was put on hiatus for nearly half a year while issues were resolved.

That partly explains why my Education Policy Center friends’ 2012 digital learning policy road map ended up missing the mark when it said EAGLE-Net was “scheduled to complete broadband infrastructure enhancements to serve all 178 school districts by August 2013.” Now we’re looking at 7 percent of the initial $100 million grant (representing most of their funds) remaining, and an expectation that 80 percent of districts will be up to speed a whole year from now.

It makes little minds like mine wonder if there isn’t a better way to provide the digital connections rural students needs. If this step has become so time-consuming and challenging, how long will it take to put Colorado at the forefront of student-centered digital learning policy? We’re still waiting to update the student count system, not to mention enacting course-level funding or developing competency-based tests and accountability measures.

Meanwhile, there is a rising number of Colorado blended learning innovations to keep an eye on, and plenty of outside inspiration to keep cheering for. Policy changes may move too slowly for an impatient kid, but let’s keep pressing in the right direction!

1 Comment »

One Response to “EAGLE-Net Broadband Delays Test Patient Hopes for Digital Learning Policies”

  1. Frankie on 11 Dec 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Eddie,

    That EAGLE-Net thing is a real good lesson in something called civics. You see, Eddie, people called politicians (like Diana DeGette, Markie Udall and Mikie Bennet) get all kinds of money from other “people” called corporations. So, what happened with that EAGLE-net promise to bring really good internet to your school did not and will not happen because all the money for the Eagle-Net thing went back to the “people” that the politicians work for (cuz the corporations give them money, ya know).

    If you were a smart boy and lived in some place where the mommies and daddies have lots of money like Cherry Creek School District you would have the really fast internet that the EAGLE-Net people said all of Colorado’s school kids. But, Eddie, you live in Gunnison, Leadville, Kremmling or some place where there are not a lot of rich people. Cuz a that, you don’t get no EAGLE-Net at your school. You get something called CenturyLink which is really slow and bad internet service and it costs your mommy and daddy a lot of money for that slow and band internet service. No “blended learning” for you Eddy!

    Next year, Eddy, when all the kids in 3rd grade and above take the TCAP tests online, your school might get a really bad grade cuz your school has slow and bad internet. When that happens, your superintendent and all his or her principals will get fired and those people from Denver will come down and take over your school district.

    Imagine that, Eddy! People coming all the way from Denver to run your school just because you had slow and bad internet because all the money that EAGLE-Net was supposed to spend getting to your school, they gave it to “people” that the politicians work for!

    Then it gets worse, Eddy. When you grow up, some kid from Korea will have the job you should have had cuz he had really fast internet at his school in Korea. He learned how to do really cool stuff on the internet when he was 6 years old! You were still using crayons and a Big Chief tablet in 2013!

    I’d like to think up some good news Eddy, but all I can say is that you need to move to Cherry Creek School District if you want any of that EAGLE-Net stuff.

    Your friend in Denver,

    Frankie

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply