Edtech Reports Recap: Video Is Eating the World, Broadband Fails to Keep Up

Nov 30, 2020

The broadband gap isn’t only a problem for remote learning. “Early childhood” videos on YouTube nearly all have advertising. And as video dominates online instruction, more educators need easy-to-use resources for video creation. All in this Edtech Reports Recap.

That Broadband Gap Bar? Raised.

So maybe you thought internet connectivity to schools was a done deal. After all, in October 2019 the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway declared that nearly 99 percent of U.S. schools had high-speed broadband connections.

Well, that was at the Federal Communications Commission’s 2014-15 short-term target of 100 Kbps per student for using tech in the classroom. But there’s still a ways to go to hit the FCC’s “longer-term” target of 1 Mbps, which was to kick in by now, for taking advantage of bandwidth-hungry edtech apps.

A different nonprofit, Connected Nation, has picked up EducationSuperHighway’s broadband baton. In a new analysis, it finds that 47 percent of U.S. school districts—6,132, to be exact, representing about one-third of public K-12 students—do indeed meet the higher 1 Mbps standard. Of those, 1,508 districts upgraded their capability this year.

Source: Connected Nation

Still, that means about two-thirds of students lack what Connected Nation calls “scalable broadband” in schools. It estimates another 4,300 districts could be upgraded in the 2020-21 academic year. Connected Nation bases the analysis in its “Connect K-12 2020 Executive Summary” on FCC E-Rate application data for the 2020 federal fiscal year. It has also created a nifty visual dashboard with state-by-state drill downs.

The pandemic may have shifted the connectivity focus away from schools to homes. But when kids and their devices return to classrooms, school bandwidth will again be in the spotlight.

On the home front, three organizations have released a “guidebook” to help schools and states close the internet access and device gap. “Connect All Students: How States and School Districts Can Close the Digital Divide” is a follow up to a June analysis by Boston Consulting Group and Common Sense.

Source: “Connect All Students: How States and School Districts Can Close the Digital Divide”

The original analysis estimated that 30 percent of K-12 public school students live in U.S. households that have no internet connection or lack a decent device for remote learning. The new report—adding EducationSuperHighway as a partner—spends its 33 pages focused on best practices to address this gap in a series of who-what-how steps: assessing needs, procuring solutions and accessing funds.

The report is based on existing research plus 18 interviews with stakeholders. Think lots of nuts-and-bolts, this-should-go-into-a-checklist details punctuated with brief case studies. The report is designed to help not just schools and states, but also inspire businesses, philanthropies, nonprofits, and policymakers to take action on home needs for high-speed internet service and learning devices.

Not-so-Educational Early Childhood Videos

At one point in its history, TV was decried as a “vast wasteland.” One of a pair of new reports about kids and early childhood videos may be updating that nearly 60-year-old critique for the YouTube era.

Nonprofit Common Sense has released a new survey and companion analysis about the 0-8 year-old set. The first, “Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight,” provides a fascinating, almost mind-numbing array of details about how the youngest kids consume everything from online video to (yes) television.

One takeaway since the last time the Census was done in 2017 is that for the first time, online video viewing dominates screen activity of kids ages 0-8. It’s more than doubled in three years, to an average now of 39 minutes a day. Plus, 34 percent of the kids watch online video every day, up from 24 percent three years ago.

Source: “Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight, 2020”

Childrens’ access to mobile devices may be part of it. The nationally representative survey of 1,440 parents conducted this February and March found 46 percent of 2-4 year olds and 67 percent of 5-8 year olds have their own tablet, smartphone or similar device.

As to what they’re watching, the title of the companion analysis developed with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital kind of says it all: “Young Kids and YouTube: How Ads, Toys, and Games Dominate Viewing.”

Source: Common Sense Media report: “Young Kids and YouTube: How Ads, Toys, and Games Dominate Their Viewing”

It’s a 46-page deep dive, concluding that 95 percent of “early childhood” videos on YouTube include some form of advertising. One in five videos viewed by kids 8 and under had ads with violent, sexual, political or other inappropriate content. And of the videos these youngest couch potatoes viewed, only 5 percent had “high educational value.”

Video Creation Gaps for Teachers

Teachers are all about videos, too. But they may not have the tools they need.

Video platform provider Kaltura is out with its seventh annual report on the use of video in education. “The State of Video in Education 2020” is a global survey of more than 500 educators at all levels, K-12 through higher ed, though few conclusions are segmented by level or geography.

But both timing and topic are of interest—the survey was done in August and September 2020, well into the pandemic and reliance on video-heavy remote learning.

Source: Kaltura report: “The State of Video in Education 2020”

The stat that really stands out is not the 83 percent who are using video for remote teaching and learning. It’s the 52 percent of educators who have full access to simple video creation tools, meaning nearly half don’t.

Podcasts, anyone?


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