Increased internet bandwidth allows states schools to implement innovative technology to teach students

09/24/2015 02:03 PM

FRANKFORT – All of Kentucky’s public school districts have met the national goal of 100kb of internet bandwidth for each K-12 student, which has opened the door for districts to use more technology in the instruction of students.

In 2014, the General Assembly appropriated $5.8 million to pay for the most recent improvements to school technology including getting to the 100kb level.

It’s believed that Kentucky is the first state to reach the 100kb plateau, according to testimony during Thursday’s Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education.

David Couch, Associate Commissioner of the Office of Knowledge and Information Services with the Kentucky Department of Education, says that reaching the 100kb level was critical in instituting a number of new initiatives related to using technology.

“We had reached a point where we had to make an investment in our infrastructure to prepare us for the future,” Couch said. “Things like online courses, the research they can do. It allows us to do a lot of things with cloud-based computing that allows us to save lot of money per year.”

Couch said that in addition to enhanced internet speeds, the Kentucky Department of Education has upgraded the protective firewall that defends against cyber-attacks and provides a safer, more secure internet experience for students, faculty and staff.

“We have huge attacks from China occurring on a daily basis, in large numbers,” Couch said. “There’s a variety of other ones out there and their goal is sometimes, for the most part, not to grab information, it’s just to make it so it’s unusable.”

KDE has implemented a new Internet Content Management System in 166 of the states 173 districts, which will help the districts maximize the faster internet speeds so that they can prioritize the most important services.

“It truly allows districts to say, you know what, I want online testing, I want to be able to run payroll, I want to use Cyclomedia, I want those to be my highest priorities,” he said.

Couch says the recent upgrades in technology meet the requirements of state internet safety regulations and the Federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and make Kentucky eligible to receive federal E-rate rebate funding.

“That brings $40- $50 million a year to Kentucky K-12,” Couch said. “We take that money and send it right back out to the school districts which they match equally so you get a 2-3 times bang for the buck.”

In addition, KDE launched Kentucky’s Microsoft IT Academy in August of 2015 in all high schools and area technology centers where students learn to be productive using Microsoft software such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, which leads to Microsoft Office Specialist certifications.

Kentucky’s Career and Technology Education department has identified more than 22 career choices within the Business Education and Information Technology career pathways that the Microsoft IT Academy resources support.

Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, who has been an advocate for better technology in Kentucky’s schools, is happy about the advances the schools have made but reiterates the importance of good teachers in the classrooms to facilitate that technology.

“We also have to make sure that we continue to do is put great teachers in the classroom to teach these students how to use these devices appropriately and to the maximum ability of these devices,” Givens said.


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