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New map shows broadband availability, U.S. schools & colleges

Broadband Map courtesy of DoE

The U.S. Department of Education released a new interactive map last week that shows where broadband Internet access is available in schools and colleges in the U.S. The first of its kind, the map is part of the National Broadband Map effort mounted this year by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

In a blog post Wednesday, Karen Cator director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education says that the DOE’s National Education Technology Plan “sets a goal that all students and teachers will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning, when and where they need it.”

“Broadband access is a critical part of that infrastructure,” writes Cator. “This map shows best data to date and efforts will continue to gather better data and continually refresh the maps.”

Because of the importance of online learning tools, broadband connections are essential to any modern classroom. Having access to digital tools benefits teachers and students by replacing or supporting outdated print materials.

“In these classrooms, broadband powers learning environments that respond to a student’s needs in real time and move aggressively to elevate achievement,” writes Cator.

Concern has been voiced for several years over the so-called “digital divide” that has formed between the broadband “haves” and “have-nots” in America. Rural students, in particular, often have less access to broadband, and therefore less access to the kind of learning that can help them compete with their counterparts in larger towns and cities or higher-income neighborhoods.

In response to the gap formed by the “digital divide,” the National Education Technology Plan has set its goal to bring access to every student and teacher who needs it. The map is one way the DoE will chart is progress.