Many countries are realizing the importance of connecting their educational institutions to the Internet. Connectivity provides many benefits including access to an ever-growing volume of educational information, opportunities for collaboration and the use of on-line applications. In addition, it is important for students, as well as teachers, to learn information and communication technology skills to enable them to participate in the evolving knowledge society. School connectivity also helps enhance educational administration through the electronic exchange of forms, data and other information. It also achieves cost efficiencies by automating manual tasks and reducing expenses associated with textbook printing and distribution. The benefits are particularly attractive for remote schools where Internet access provides the vehicle for online learning and access to educational content.
The policies that enable schools to benefit from broadband connectivity can also be leveraged as vehicles to provide connectivity to marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, the elderly, the unemployed, minorities and indigenous peoples. This module can thus also serve as a tool for considering the ways in which access to broadband can benefit groups with special needs.
Many of the benefits identified are only achievable through school broadband connectivity, the focus of this module. The module also mainly examines primary and secondary school connectivity since this is the emphasis of most ICT infrastructure for education initiatives. Section 1 one elaborates on the benefits of broadband connectivity. Section 2 identifies international and regional goals and targets in respect to school connectivity. The role of planning for achieving school connectivity, including key elements for consideration in implementing and funding Internet access in schools is described in Section 3. Section 4 examines the potential of leveraging the investment in school connectivity to serve a wider audience outside school hours.
The module primarily concentrates on ways to achieve connectivity itself and does not consider the next step of incorporating broadband into the school environment. Section 5 focuses on topics such as broadband curriculum, training and online content along with a number of cross cutting issues including child online protection and one to one computer initiatives required for the next step. The one to one computer model is discussed in detail in Module 2. Section 6 provides several case studies on different countries experiences on providing Internet access to schools.