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Blog // Connect Alaska

100% of Alaska School Districts Submit Broadband Data for School Audit

By CAK Staff

Contributed by James DunnOne hundred percent of Alaska school districts have submitted important information on broadband connectivity, wireless and wired network capacity, equipment, and district Wide Area Network connectivity as part of the Alaska School Broadband Audit initiative, a multi-faceted series of projects undertaken by Connect Alaska in partnership with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. The Initiative is designed to provide the public, educators, and policymakers with a comprehensive picture of broadband connectivity and use at all public K-12 schools in Alaska. This response is unprecedented and will provide the first comprehensive report of broadband adoption across state schools.

Information for each of the 54 school districts was collected through one-on-one interviews of school educators and administrators, submission of data via a web portal, as well as on-the-ground assessments by broadband network engineers.  This was a thorough and often times daunting task, as the majority of the state’s K-12 schools, nearly three-quarters, are located in rural and bush areas. Having visited 53 thus far of the 54 participating school districts, broadband network engineers had the opportunity to examine, test, and validate broadband and on-campus connectivity and capacity.

In addition to data collection and site visits to individual school districts and individual schools, the initiative also includes:

- Performance of an Alaska educator needs assessment;  

-  Analyses of the Alaska school broadband landscape and development of a comprehensive report of findings to be released in May 2015; and

-  Development and launch of a clear, intuitive data visualization portal that will help educators, the public, and policymakers learn about the broadband gaps for every K-12 public school in the state, including tools to track and benchmark progress against peers and national broadband connectivity targets.

In the meantime, check out the needs assessment study, Broadband: A Critical Element of Education in Alaska, released in February 2015. It showed that nearly three-quarters of rural educators in Alaska – 73% – indicated that a lack of adequate broadband limits the educational opportunities they offer to their students, and a majority of rural schools in Alaska need additional funding simply to keep up with educational broadband needs. For this study, Connect Alaska surveyed Alaskan K-12 educators across the state, focusing on the use and needs for enhanced broadband in educating Alaska’s youth.

For more information about the Alaska School Broadband Audit, please visit www.akbroadbandaudit.org.           

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