Obama On ConnectED: Let’s Bring WiFi to Our Schools

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“In a country where we expect free WiFi with our coffee, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools?” President Obama raised this question at a middle school in North Carolina as he discussed the administration’s plans to expand broadband Internet access to reach 99% of public school students in the next five years, in a goal referred to as ConnectED.

The plan calls for every classroom to be equipped with high-speed Internet, laptops for each student, and digital technology to help teachers individualize their learning plans for specific students and more closely monitor their students’ progress.

The Nuts and Bolts

The FCC announced that they will use $2 billion in grant money to connect 20 million students in 15,000 schools to the Internet over the next two years. Many large U.S. corporations, including Apple, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon are donating more than $750 million to contribute to this ambitious plan. Apple donated $100 million in iPads and laptops for disadvantaged schools.

Currently, only 30% of U.S. school children have broadband access in their schools, compared to 100% of schoolchildren in South Korea.

“We shouldn’t give that kind of competitive advantage over to other countries,” Obama stated.

Keeping Students Safe

Few would argue that giving students broadband access at schools is a bad thing. However, it does come with risks.

President Obama did not discuss how student data will be kept safe from cybercriminals. If students and teachers are accessing open WiFi networks in their schools, that means that anyone with simple hacking software can intercept their data.

Our expectation is that each school will use data encryption software. Keeping kids safe is just as important as giving them the best education possible.

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Kent Lawson

Kent Lawson is the CEO & Chairman of Private Communications Corporation and creator of its flagship software PRIVATE WiFi. He combined his extensive business and technical experience to develop PRIVATE WiFi in 2010. The software is an easy-to-use Virtual Private Network (VPN) that protects your sensitive personal information whenever you’re connected to a public WiFi network. Follow Kent on Twitter: @KentLawson.