While advancements in online education are being made, Colorado lacks the digital infrastructure necessary for our children to take advantage of these new resources. A story today from the Denver Post highlights the need for faster Internet access in Colorado:
The gap between the technological haves and have-nots, once defined by access to the computer hardware that drives high-tech learning, now centers on an information superhighway that too often recedes to the digital equivalent of rutted rural back roads.
As a result, classes ranging from Advanced Placement to world languages to credit-recovery courses may not be available in areas with lagging local Internet connections — denying many students the same instructional options as their better-connected counterparts.
The Post is right, there are many new resources are out there and many require high bandwidth. Take for example the site Khan Academy–they provide simple 10 minute video lectures accompanied sometimes by exercises. Many of the lessons and exercises, especially in math, have been adopted in classrooms around the country and kids often times find them fun and engaging while teachers are provided access tools to monitor student progress. In higher education, top universities are beginning to compete to offer free courses online, providing opportunity to anyone interested in learning.
Access to broadband Internet isn’t just good for our students, its good for our businesses. Many rural communities could benefit from better access to the Internet. Faster access would provide new opportunities for people and businesses in rural communities that have suffered so much since the start of this last economic downturn. Colorado should make better Internet infrastructure a priority.