Scott: Today, the great race is pretty much based on technology – smaller, faster, better. And that applies to everything from your laptop to important hospital equipment. And that is why internet access and speed matter. And it is also why, as Maggie Rulli shows us, some people are worried that U.S. schools will be left behind.
Maggie: Waiting…and waiting…and, yep, more waiting.
Student: My computer has given up on the internet.
Maggie: Look familiar? Well, you are not alone. More than 70% of schools in America don’t have enough internet access to get all their students online, like these seniors at Cold Hollow Career Center in Enosburg Falls, Vermont.
Shane, let’s talk about the internet. What is it like here at school?
Maggie: How bad?
Maggie: But just how bad? Well, to stream a video, you need speeds around 3 megabytes per second at your computer. So, we put their internet speed to the test.
On my count…3, 2, 1! Let the speed test begin!
He is at 3. Let’s go check it out!
He is at 2! You are at 2?
Student: And it is dropping.
Maggie: What happened to your speed test, dude?
Student: It won’t allow it.
Maggie: Alright, good luck with that one.
Let’s go check someone’s internet that actually had enough speed to check the speed test.
Well, what do you got? What do you got?
Maggie: Wait! That is not that good!
Guys, we are kind of striking out with fast internet speed right now.
And students here have found that these numbers just aren’t enough.
So, you had to take a midterm online and couldn’t take your test because your internet wasn’t working.
Adeline Forrest: Yeah, a lot of people failed the class because of it.
Maggie: They actually failed?
Adeline: Yeah, it was really actually a huge problem.
Maggie: Do you think your school has adequate internet connectivity to actually teach a class the way you want to teach it?
Marcia Blanco: No, not yet. Not yet.
Maggie: Slow internet speeds make it almost impossible to show videos, stream online tutorials, and even complete online testing that will be required in the future.
While it is a national problem, rural areas, like here in northern Vermont, are often hit the hardest.
Blanco: I’ve had students who have never been on an interstate before. I’ve had kids who’ve never been up an escalator before. We’re very, very rural, isolated. So one of the things that I need to show them is that connection with the outside world.
Maggie: A connection that is especially important to Cold Hollow students Adeline Forrest and Paige Rich.
Adeline: My neighbors are two hundred heifers, so… We have dairy cows next to us and we don’t live on a dairy farm.
Maggie: Rural students make up nearly one in every four young people going to school in America.
So, we are driving through Adeline’s neighborhood right now and, as you can see, she only lives a couple miles from her high school but there is really not much out here. So it is hard for internet companies, like Comcast, to even get the infrastructure needed out to her home.
With zero internet at home, Adeline must rely on her school’s unreliable internet.
Do you guys ever worry about the fact that you have such limited access to internet?
Adeline: I do. I worry that when I get to college I won’t be prepared for the kind of work that other students are doing.
Maggie: Do you feel like you are at a disadvantage?
Adeline: I think so. I think that other students are probably getting a head start and we are just doing what we can.
Maggie: Some experts say that other countries are getting that head start over the U.S. Just take a look at some of the nations with the best high speed internet access. South Korea already has 100% access. Finland will hit 100% within the year and Singapore will as well. But the United States currently remains at around 28%. Now compare that to their world rank in education. South Korea, Finland and Singapore all rank in the top five. That is well above the U.S. at number seventeen. It is why President Obama has set a goal to get 99% of schools connected to high speed internet within five years.
President Obama: Today we’re here to announce some big strides that we’re making to put the world, and outer space, at every child’s fingertips whether they live in a big city or a quiet suburb or in rural America.
Maggie: Just last week, at a middle school in Maryland, the president announced plans to spend $2 billion to connect more than 15,000 schools to high speed internet. President Obama says the money will come from other outdated programs.
Students like Adeline and Paige are counting on the president to help them connect.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Scott: To find out how your school stacks up, get the link to test your internet speed at Channelone.com.