The benefits of incorporating technology in the classroom are so far-reaching that even President Barack Obama has pledged to increase student access to the Internet across all schools in the nation. Last year, Obama unveiled his ConnectED initiative that aimed to assist teachers in further integrating classroom technology within curricula, from using instructional technology to implementing mobile devices in lessons. During his State of the Union address, the president revealed that several companies had jumped on board with this new plan, pledging money and resources to help schoolchildren realize the impact this type of software can have.
In June 2013, President Obama revealed his plan to connect 99 percent of America’s schoolchildren to fast-speed, high-quality Internet access by 2017. Currently, according to a press release from the White House, fewer than 30 percent of schools across the nation have this type of broadband connectivity. Schools require larger networks due to the high volume of individuals they serve, but frequently have Internet connections that can only accommodate a small number of people at any given time. Additionally, institutions in rural areas often have little to no connection at all. Because of this, the government, FCC and private sector businesses have pledged to assist in creating greater access for all students to help further the advances technology in the classroom can provide.
Progress made since June
During his State of the Union address, Obama announced that several major corporations, including Apple, Verizon and Sprint, had pledged money and resources toward this cause. The White House sent out a fact sheet detailing the specific advancements that have been made to help further the educational initiative. Private sector corporations have donated a total of $750 million toward schools across the nation. Among them include Apple, which donated $100 million in products such as iPads and student software, AT&T, which set aside $100 million to give middle-schoolers free connectivity for three years, and Sprint, which plans to offer 50,000 low-income school students free Internet access for four years.
The FCC has also invested $2 billion to connect 20 million students to next generation broadband service, which schools will start to receive in 2014. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture committed to provide $10 million in access grants to students living in rural areas.
National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling told The Atlantic in a press call that these donations will assist in connecting all schoolchildren to the best resources available.
“These companies have recognized the compelling national need for us to have the high-speed broadband that allows us to have the most modern, most effective learning classrooms in our country where every child can learn at their desk and have a world of learning at their fingertips,” Sperling said.