Networking & Wireless

Fort Mill School District Upgrades to Gigabit Broadband

Fort Mill School District in South Carolina has upgraded its broadband infrastructure to provide dedicated 1-gigabit service to each of its 15 schools, supported by a 10-gigabit data center.

The high speed network is intended to support the increasing number of connected devices on the schools' networks and increasing use of online educational resources in the classrooms. According to Brian Spittle, director of technology services for Fort Mill SD, district enrollment grew by about 500 students this year, the number of mobile devices increased by nearly 1,000 and he expects similar growth next year.

Marty McGinn, assistant superintendent for curriculum and human resources, said the improved network access and reliability will support the increasing use of online instructional materials and online testing.

"Having a lot of students with access at the same time will enhance the use of digital textbooks and online resources," said McGinn in a prepared statement. "The 10 Gig Ethernet network will expand the capacity for teachers to integrate technology on a daily basis in their classrooms."

"All of the assessment companies are moving to online instead of paper and pencil tests," added McGinn. "Assessment tools must work consistently and work quickly, particularly when there's a short window to test an entire grade across all schools at the same time."

Comporium, a private communications company in Rock Hill, SC, provides the broadband network service for Fort Mill SD, as well as for Rock Hill School District and Lexington School District 1.

Tony Cox, associate superintendent of Rock HIll SD said his district's 10-gigabit Ethernet network has resulted in rapid changes to instruction. The district has shifted from printed to online textbooks, or "tech books," which can be updated more quickly to keep up with current events and research. The district also uses virtual interactive science labs and hosts virtual guest speakers from around the world. Fort Mill SD has already started making similar shifts in its instructional methods with its "digits" math program that includes online demonstrations and interactive problems.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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