PEDAL TO THE METAL: The non-profit Learning Accelerator, dedicated to the study and implementation of blended learning throughout the U.S. (which received a $750K grant from the Gates Foundation in late 2012), has awarded its first grant, to the tune of $500K, to SF-based EducationSuperHighway (ESH). This opening move makes sense, as ESH is tackling the critical issues of school infrastructure, bandwidth and online access that often get taken for granted. CEO Evan Marwell shares with EdSurge that the funding will go toward supporting general operations, which will include expanding his current team of six. Four projects he says to watch for in 2013:
- Offering a service to districts that have run the School Speed Test where ESH or a partner organization will go in and assess the hardware and equipment;
- Creating a database so that schools can see benchmark prices for what they are purchasing. One common problem is that schools and districts are paying vastly different prices for similar qualities of services;
- Working with CTOs and the League of Innovative Schools to develop a "bandwidth planner" so that schools can better estimate the bandwidth and equipment required based on their plans for adopting online tools;
- Advocacy for reforming the E-rate program
"No wicked party, but more hard work," quipped Marwell.