School & District Management

Digital Access: An Education Technology Success Story?

By Alyson Klein — October 22, 2019 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Back in 2013, before an overhaul of the E-rate program, just 30 percent of school districts were able to take advantage of digital learning. This year? That figure stands at a whopping 99 percent.

That’s according to a new report from EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit that was a driving force behind the modernization of the federal E-rate program, one of the biggest success stories in education technology over the past decade. The nonprofit, which was founded in 2012 to expand broadband access across the country, has declared “mission accomplished” (well, almost) and is planning to sunset next year. (The federal E-rate program, which has been around since the mid-1990’s, helps school districts and libraries cover the cost of broadband services and more.)

So why does the non-profit feel that much of its work has been done? Here are some more striking statistics:

  • Back in 2013, 22,958 schools did not have the infrastructure required for digital learning. In 2019, that number is just 743. The biggest drop occurred between 2013 and 2015, when 9,500 schools developed the needed infrastructure.
  • About 46.3 million students have access to the broadband they need for digital learning. That’s compared to just 4 million in 2013.
  • The cost of internet access has declined a whopping 90 percent since 2013.
  • 94 percent of schools report that digital learning is happening in at least half of their classrooms.
  • 85 percent of teachers support the use of increased digital learning in their schools.

There’s more work to do, Evan Marwell, the founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway, said in an interview, in part because “one percent of kids remain on the wrong side of the digital divide,” meaning they are still lacking the basic broadband. “We’ve got to do our best to get them over the line.”

And connectivity-wise, the vast majority of schools are at 100 kilobits, which means that teachers can engage in at least some online learning. But only 38 percent of schools are at 1 megabit, which is the speed that allows every classroom to be online at the same time, Marwell said.

But more importantly, many schools are still figuring out how leverage use technology to effectively boost learning, Marwell said.

“We’re still in the early innings of figuring out what is the best way to use digital learning in the classroom,” he said.

Photo Credit: Getty

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Some Teachers Won't Get Vaccinated, Even With a Mandate. What Should Schools Do About It?
Vaccine requirements for teachers are gaining traction, but the logistics of upholding them are complicated.
9 min read
Illustration of a vaccine, medical equipment, a clock and a calendar with a date marked in red.
School & District Management A Vaccine for Kids Is Coming. 6 Tips for Administering the Shot in Your School
Start planning now, get help, and build enthusiasm. It's harder than it looks.
11 min read
Cole Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student at Topeka West, gets a COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 at Topeka High School's vaccine clinic.
Cole Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student, gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Topeka High School's vaccine clinic.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP
School & District Management Letter to the Editor School Mask Mandates: Pandemic, ‘Panicdemic,’ or Personal?
"A pandemic is based on facts. A 'panicdemic' is based on fears. Today, we have both," writes a professor.
1 min read
School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP