A new initiative sponsored by Comcast and the leaders of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) promises to create new digital opportunities for students and teachers in the city’s public school classrooms.
Comcast and the school district on Friday, Nov. 14 unveiled a massive project to upgrade technology and broadband speeds, benefitting the district’s 35,000 students and 5,000 staff members.
“With online curriculums and technology’s role in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) becoming more crucial, this upgrade will play a huge role in creating a level playing field in Bay Area education,” said OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson at Elmhurst Community Prep.
According to district Information Technology Officer John Krull, the Comcast upgrade will create an “equitable, supportable, customizable learning environment that empowers our students.”
The Comcast tech team will accelerate sties currently operate at 50-100 mps to 1000 mps with a capacity to increase 10 times that speed.
Kilian Betlach, principal of Elmhurst Community Prep, says the upgrade will allow more interactive and customized learning for his 381 sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
“Our combined curriculum and the technology will allow students to progress at their own speeds,” he said. “Also with the interactive model students can gain skills that are personalized whether they are working below, at or beyond their grade level. The curriculum can be adjusted.”
In the campus auditorium, on a large video screen, a live technology demonstration connected three Elmhurst students via video conference with a ranger in Humboldt County standing in the midst of Redwood trees.
The ranger talked about the importance of the forest and different animals that lived in the ecosystem, He had a visual and verbal exchange in real time via a videoconference with Elmhurst students Darius Drake, Khamonie Piper and Marjonie Rogers.
“This is fun – the Internet will be faster, and we can do more on our computers,” said Drake.
“I found the demonstration very professional and straight down to business,” said Piper.
“I am excited that they will invest in us as students and believe we can be leaders moving forward and not left behind.”
In addition to providing infrastructure to support in-school learning, Comcast is wiring libraries, recreation centers and after-school programs. The company is also offering low-income families in the district options for low-cost technology and broadband service through Comcast’s Internet Essentials initiative.
This initiative is also a part of the Get Connected Oakland, which involves OUSD, the City of Oakland and partners throughout the city.
By 2015, Comcast plans to have all OUSD schools upgraded and by 2018, the service will provide homes high-speed access for learning beyond the classroom.