Bridging the digital divide encompasses a greater scope than simply bringing technology to rural areas. The digital divide is about served and under served. While overall urban populations have had technological opportunities before rural areas, there are still urban populations in the communities of Washington that do not have access to high-quality telecommunications services. NoaNet and it's members aim to help bridge these divides through providing K-12 schools and other education institutions with the resources to excel.
Technology is becoming an integral part of educational systems, and schools are having a difficult time keeping up with the demand for broadband access. NoaNet aims to meet the needs of unserved and underserved education systems by providing the networks to support level of broadband service that will allow schools to meet their current and future broadband needs.
Over the past ten years NoaNet and it's members have connected over 200 school districts to the k-20 network through our circuits. We continue to work with schools and school districts to support next generations technologies, allowing the schools to focus on education instead of telecommunication services. Bringing bandwidth technologies that allow access to the internet into the classroom is critical for keeping up with the latest educational tools. Imagine a classroom where 30 devices can easily connect to the web and engage in learning interfaces together. The possibilities are endless.
Washington state needs to have quality education extend beyond the large state universities. It extends into community colleges and other educational programs. NoaNet designed a network plan with the BTOP grant that connects all of the community colleges in Washington, allowing them to share data and research if desired. In addition to designing these future plans, we have been able to support these universities by providing libraries with broadband adoption as well as computer assistance, computer education classes and trainings.
Through the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant, NoaNet was able to extend a network aimed at bridging the digital divide in unserved and underserved Washington communities.
Higher education access via the state's community colleges and distance learning programs was one of NoaNet's top priorities during this network build, as part of the Knowledge Network of Washington (KNOW) project. KNOW provided the core terrestrial and wireless infrastructure as well as the applications to reach communities across Washington for information sharing purposes. KNOW opened the doors for the citizens of the state living in rural and underserved areas to gain access to new education and career opportunities.
NoaNet's vision for Washington's community colleges and distance learning programs:
- A collaborative network between schools for the sharing of data, research and curriculum
- Distance learning capabilities with high capacity connectivity to the Internet
- Expanded or new educational opportunities through program interconnections to Tribal Cultural Centers and community museums
- Interconnection to medical communities to access programs, training, information and research