IT Trends

Report: Districts Should Help Families with Their WiFi Needs

More than 9-in-10 students learning from home are using WiFi rather than wired connections. But the quality of their wireless connections varies greatly. According to a new report, there are steps schools and districts can take to help improve their students’ home WiFi performance — some at a cost, some using IT staff expertise and legwork.

The report, the Student Home Connectivity Study, from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), studied data from 13 districts representing some 750,000 students in the United States. Among many significant findings, the researchers discovered that 92% of students working from home use WiFi rather than wired connections for their internet access when they are engaged in learning activities. “However,” the report noted, “WiFi presents significant challenges. Factors such as router location, home construction, and available support for modern router standards can impact the strength of the WiFi connection.”

The report’s authors recommended that institutions step up and assist families to ensure that students have the best possible connection to their learning materials. This does not necessarily mean purchasing new equipment for those families. Some recommendations from the report:

  • Help families acquire new routers if their router has not been upgraded in a few years;

  • Work with ISPs to replace outdated routers;

  • Provide network extenders in areas with poor signals;

  • Educate families on router placement and maintenance.

On this last point, the report noted: “For example, mounting a router on a brick wall or placing it behind a television can impede WiFi signals. Just as important is to consider the home construction materials, such as plaster or concrete, which can also weaken a WiFi connection. When needed, families of students should receive guidance from the school district regarding appropriate WiFi router placement to mitigate obstacles in student internet access.”

The complete report is freely available at cosn.org.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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