Providing adult learners and their families with broadband Internet Access

Hello Colleagues,

Typically there are three major needs that must be met for adult learners to have reliable access to the Internet from home to learn online. If any one of these is missing, online learning will be challenging if not impossible:

1. Affordable broadband access

2. Hardware (ideally a recent-model computer or chromebook), and

3. Comfort, confidence and competence in using digital technology (at least basic digital literacy skills.)

It  also happens that schoolchildren have the same three needs. Perhaps, as adult basic skills educators, we can join forces with our public school colleagues to advocate for adult and family broadband Internet inclusion.

This discussion thread is about examples where cities, towns and rural communities are getting public funds (local, state or federal funding) to provide families with reliable broadband Internet access who have not had it.

I'll get the ball rolling with an example from San Antonio, Texas, and look forward to your adding examples from your city, town or rural area -- reliable broadband access is a problem in all these American environments. This discussion thread, however, is not about the problem; instead, it is focused on actual solutions that have been implemented, or that have been planned and funded.

San Antonio Texas: San Antonio will leverage traffic lights to expand fiber network for students

You can read the details of this funded plan by selecting the link above, but here are some highlights:

  • San Antonio’s has great income inequality as reflected in its great digital divide; nearly 40 percent of its households don’t have fixed internet access.
  • Using $27 million in federal coronavirus relief funds from the CARES Act, the city will provide wireless broadband to students in the 50 neighborhoods with the highest need, spanning eight school districts.
  • The city will use traffic lights in its plan to connect 20,000 students’ homes to their schools’ wireless networks.
  • Granted, this solution only connects students to public schools for education purposes, not families to other useful parts of the Internet, but perhaps it could also connect parents to public school-sponsored adult education programs.

Your thoughts about this solution, please, and your contributions of other solutions to help all families in America have reliable access to the Internet from home to learn online.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups