Internet Essentials Program Benefits American Education
ALEC lauds the benefits of digital learning in American education, such as customized learning programs for struggling students and more time for “higher-level discussions.” Additionally, technology in the classroom empowers “students to learn anytime, anywhere; to be always learning.”
To the benefit of greater digital education, the Philadelphia-based telecommunications company, Comcast, announced another round of enhancements to its low-cost broadband Internet program Internet Essentials earlier this month. The program launched in 2011 and has since invested more than $240 million in digital literacy training.
Internet Essentials costs $9.95 per month plus tax and announced free upgrades to Wi-Fi routers for its customers along with faster internet speeds. Its back-to-school promotion offers the service for free for up to 6 months for whoever enlists by September 20. This creates easier access to the internet for more families, especially lower-income families.
So what does Internet Essentials mean for America? Lower-income families and students are increasingly less affected by the “digital divide” – the likelihood of internet incompetence increases with age and lower income. Since 2011, Internet Essentials has positively impacted 48,000 schools; more than 5,000 school districts; 39 states and the District of Columbia.
According to Comcast, “eligible families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private, charter, and homeschooled students.” After improvements this year, families can now enroll in the program if at least one child in the household “attends a school where at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for the National School Lunch Program.” This development benefits education two-fold: students will use technology at school and also have access to it at home to ensure that learning occurs beyond the confines of the classroom.
Technology in the classroom lightens the workload of teachers while also improving the quality of education, leading to a well-educated workforce that benefits America’s competitiveness on the global stage – a goal ALEC supports.
Will these low-cost internet solutions continue to spring up? Time will tell, but the improvements to education and quality of living provide enough reasons for more companies to follow suit.