As we noted in a previous post, the Texas Education Agency has indicated that most of the products submitted in response to Proclamation 2014 are online materials. As most educators know, innovative online resources have the power to transform learning; however, they rapidly can become sources of frustration for both teachers and students when inadequate bandwidth, or internet speed,  results in slow download times, poor video quality, and inability to access interactive content.

Education Superhighway, a non-profit group that focuses on ensuring schools have the resources needed to implement digital learning, estimates that as many as 80 percent of schools nationally do not have adequate bandwidth to support online instruction.  This suggests that instructional materials selection committees must carefully consider whether they have both the devices and the broadband capacity to support online resources when selecting new materials.  Schools may access a free test of their broadband capacity here.

The State Educational Technology Directors Association has recommended that schools have minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps per second per 1,000 students and staff by 2014-15, increasing to 1 Gbps per second per 1,000 students and staff by 2017-18. Based on these recommendations, the Texas Legislature has required that TEA conduct a broadband study to determine whether Texas school districts have the capacity to support online learning.  Specifically, the study will gauge whether:

  • Individual campuses have the SETDA-recommended bandwidth of 100 Mbps per second per 1,000 students and staff, and
  • Internal wide area network connections between each district and its campuses have a bandwidth of 1 Gbps per second per 1,000 students and staff.

Learning List’s editorial reviews address the minimum system requirements, including broadband access, needed to effectively implement each product we review.  For each online product submitted, we ask publishers to identify the following technology requirements:  supported operating systems, hardware, software, plug-Ins, internet access (including connection speeds, supported internet browsers, browser settings), screen settings, and device compatibility. In addition, Learning List’s reviews describe how online products engage students in interactive experiences, foster collaborative learning, and adapt instruction to meet individual student needs.