Connectivity is Critical: 33 Ways Broadband Boosts Learning


Connectivity Powers Personalized Learning.
1. Adaptive assessment adjusts the difficulty of questions to quickly determine a student’s learning level. It is the most time and cost efficient way to track growth but requires broadband.
2. Adaptive learning systems combine the power of adaptive assessment with targeted tutoring. A playlist of learning experience is automatically developed based on student success. (See The Future of Learning: Personalized, Adaptive and Competency Based.)
3. Engaging game-based learning builds persistence and critical thinking. There is strong evidence that 90 minutes of use each week boosts elementary achievement. (See Better Blends With Visual Game-Based Math.)
4. Technology-based learning can extend the reach of great teachers and create the opportunity for teachers to spend with students that need individual attention. (See Improving Conditions & Careers.)
5. Students are more likely to complete homework when it consists of engaging content and learning games. Connectivity can extend the learning day and year.
6. Connectivity and access to part time online learning is expanding student access to college preparatory courses, electives, and college credit opportunities. (See Fueling A Revolution.)
Personalized learning environments boost attendance and engagement, they more efficiently address specific student needs. Personalized learning, powered by 24×7 connectivity, holds the potential to boost learning productivity and extend learning time.
Connectivity Makes Connections With the World.
7. Project-based learning incorporates real world challenges that require research and production of professional quality writing and presentations–both tasks are aided by connectivity. Well constructed projects provoke reflection and revision, as well as self-assessment against learning targets (see Deeper Project Based Learning)
8. Connectivity supports interest based-learning. As education becomes more competency-based, students will be able to spend more time studying topics they are interested in while still demonstrating mastery of the basics. This will continue to improve high school and college completion rates but will require access to broadband.
9. Connectivity is beginning to power online career exposure and virtual mentoring programs. It is also improving access to academic support systems and youth and family services. (See Core & More: Guiding and Personalizing College & Career Readiness.)
10. Connectivity expands access to world languages with online and blended courses. It’s now possible and affordable to offer full K-12 access to the world’s leading languages. (See The Next Generation of World Language Learning.)
Connectivity Helps Meet Special Needs.
11. Personalized learning is particularly important for students with special needs. “We are implementing a program called eSpark,” said Genevieve Thomas, Rocketship Education. “Each of our schools has iPads that are assigned to students with IEPs in kindergarten through third grade. The iPads are programmed with a suite of apps that are customized based on the student’s unique needs. Individual playlists are automatically created for students, so they go into different apps every day based on their playlist. While eSpark wasn’t designed specifically for special education students, we’re finding that it works well with this student population.”
12. Touch screens and assistive technologies (e.g., voice to text, text to voice, magnification) are better supporting students with special needs.
13. Supportive technology and personalized instruction makes it easy to serve a larger percentage of students with special needs in a regular classroom. “Blended Learning models have allowed special needs to students to be present and fully connected to the classroom community throughout the day, instead of spending large amounts of time removed from their classmates,” said Robin Wise, special service manager for blended schools at K12.
14. Distributed workforce strategies can better match specialists and special needs–any service, anytime, anywhere. Last year,PresenceLearning conducted more than 200,000 live online therapy sessions in public district and charter schools. They also offeronline occupational therapy and counseling.
15. Online and blended learning have created personalized opportunity for over-aged under-credited, disengaged and adjudicated youth. (See Online Learning Myths.)
Better connectivity and better tools will result in more students exiting special education more quickly with better levels of preparation.
Connectivity Powers Professional Work Products.
16. Connectivity allows students to publish professional quality work product. The student publications from Palo Alto High School are great examples of online newspapers, journals, video programs and yearbooks. High Tech High students regularly exhibit work and publish books.
17. Digital portfolios allow students to track personal bests and to share their work with a larger audience.
Moving from a culture of “turn it in” to “publish it” builds student skill, motivation and confidence.
Connectivity Supports Professional Learning.
18. Digital networks (as well as common standards) have begun breaking down the isolation of the teaching profession. Millions of teachers participate in professional learning communities with teachers in similar roles. (See Plugging Into Professional Learning Communities.)
19. A 2013 globalstudy of best practices in professional learning suggested that education professionals should have an individual learning plan and access to a combination of collaborative and online learning experiences. (See PD Powered by Edmodo.)
20. Online and blended learning is beginning to transform teacher preparation. New alternative preparation pathways as well as formal degree programs are becoming personalized, highly relevant, and competency-based. (See Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning.)
Connectivity Boosts Learning and Productivity.
21. Connectivity allows teachers to flip classrooms–sending lectures and instructional materials home with students so that classroom time can be spent in problem solving.
22. Connectivity allows teachers to post assignments to the web and communicate easily with students and parents/guardians. There’s no more “I left my assignment at school.”
23. Connectivity boosts parent connections. Examples of improved parent connections include Remind 101 used by 12 million teachers, students, and parents to sent over 500 million text messages. ClassDojo is used by 35 million teachers, students, and parents to track and improve student behavior in real-time.
24. Connectivity and student access devices (i.e., laptops or tablets) are promoting more writing across the curriculum. Free tools make it easy for teachers in every subject to assign and assess quality writing. (See Writing Across the Curriculum With The Literacy Design Collaborative.)
25. Connectivity means student and teacher work are accessible and mobile. Cloud-based applications allow students to access work on any device, from anywhere, at anytime. Even if a computer is lost or crashes, the work is accessible.
26. Connectivity is improving access to student records allowing teachers to personalize learning from day one. Like portable medical records, soon parents will be able to access and share student learning profiles afterschool and summer school providers and tutors. (See Data Backpacks: Portable Records and Learner Profiles.)
27. Connectivity powers full time online learning for homebound and traveling students. Online learning eliminates the need for snow days
Connectivity Supports Community and Collaboration.
28. Connectivity promotes community. For many young people, in addition to church, sports teams, or clubs, online communities are an informal gathering space where young people connect with others. (See Bonnie Lathram’s discussion.)
29. Connectivity promotes global connections. Projects like I-EARN, Global Nomads Group,Taking It Global, and World Wide Workshop connect young people around the world. These sites promote global awareness, students engagement, and leadership.
30. Connectivity promotes collaborative creation. Cloud based applications like Google docs allow authors anywhere to co-construct work product simultaneously.
Connectivity promotes creativity, collaboration, and global connections for learners of all ages.
Connectivity Saves Money.
31. Digital content is less expensive than textbooks; it’s more current, more engaging, and often incorporates embedded assessments.
32. Connectivity facilitates the creation and sharing of open education resources (OER). There is enough high quality OER to replace secondary and postsecondary textbooks where there is broadband connectivity.
33. New tools and better connectivity are transforming central office services, improving services levels and allowing districts to shift more resources to the classroom.
Connectivity is allowing districts to save money and reinvest in teachers and classroom resources.
PresenceLearning and K12 are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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