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Blog // Connect Alaska

Detailed School District Connectivity Reports - Now Available

By James Dunn

Connect Alaska today is releasing summary connectivity reports for 53 Alaska school districts. The reports feature the following information about the school districts: average download speeds, monthly cost of broadband, type of connectivity, and technology available in the classroom. This is the first comprehensive data release of its kind – specifically designed to inform education and government stakeholders about the use of broadband technology at all public K-12 schools in Alaska. 

The school district reports are 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 audit has garnered input from 100% of Alaska school districts and will be a resource to school districts, stakeholders, and communities to better understand the technology available to their students. The goal of the initiative is to demonstrate how the resources are ultimately used to impact student learning and provide a framework for improved connectivity.

Methodology

Information for the school district reports were 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 of them) are located in rural and bush areas. Having visited 53 of the 54 participating school districts, Connect Alaska broadband network engineers had the opportunity to examine, test, and validate broadband and on-campus connectivity and capacity.

More about the Audit Initiative

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 shows that nearly three-quarters of rural educators in Alaska – 73% – indicated that a lack of adequate broadband limits the educational opportunities they offer 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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