Ask the Expert (Classroom Connectivity)

Can Schools Increase Internet Connectivity?

Thanks to e-rate, 99 percent of our public K-12 schools and libraries are now connected to the Internet. The next step is bringing connectivity to the classroom level to support modern learning.

The majority of U.S. schools do not have enough bandwidth to meet the current needs for digital learning. As 1:1 learning models, online classes and digital content proliferate, the technology foundation needed to support them will become more critical. “Network days” may become the new “snow days” for the next generation of students. When networks fail, learning is disrupted, resulting in lost classroom time.

We recently surveyed K-12 IT professionals to get a better understanding of classroom connectivity and build the K-12 Connected Heat Map, showing the prevalence of wired and wireless connectivity state-by-state.

Enabling classroom connectivity is an involved process. Security is a critical requirement. A next-generation firewall serves as a first line of defense, providing application control and a consolidated filtering approach. Web URL filtering allows schools to enforce security policies. It also allows educators to have safe access to the applications needed to improve student outcomes.

Behind the firewall, the router manages the school’s bandwidth, Internet service provider and type of Internet connection. The core switch acts as the brains of the operation — serving as the internal routing function and handling traffic passing between the user access network and everything else.

Access points sit in the classroom to handle data; as the number of classroom devices grows, so should the number of access points. Finally, managed services can layer on top of the network to ensure a load-balanced classroom, allowing for ubiquitous access to the Internet.

These cohesive network components provide a solid infrastructure that helps schools avoid “network days”.

Visit to check out your state’s K-12 connectivity.

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Dr. Chad Stevens is the Chief Education Strategist with CDW-G.

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