In a digital age where technical skills are integral to almost every task we complete, Enid Public Schools (EPS) is aiming to eliminate education gaps by investing in digital resources for all of their students. Full access to an array of technological devices ensures that no student is inhibited by their lack of resources. These investments are helping make EPS a model school district for Oklahoma and beyond.
Jeff Herbel has been the director of information and instruction technology at EPS for nine years. He has witnessed his school district transform into a leader in digital education, and he credits district leadership, community support and reliable connectivity.
“We have a vision of implementing technology to support education and trying to let education drive what we do in technology,” he said.
The mission of the district’s strategic plan is to create global career-ready students. In a digital age, leaders at EPS see digital education as critical to meeting this goal. Herbel says his team is always trying to stay ahead in technology, so EPS students are prepared for their future beyond 12th grade. Much of their innovation involves doing the most with what sources of funding they have.
Enid Public Schools joined the OneNet network in 2009. Previously, the district had been using another service provider, but OneNet was able to offer the district 10 times the bandwidth for significantly less. Herbel says that OneNet’s exceptional service and cost savings enabled the district to invest in more digital education tools.
In 2016, Enid Public Schools created a 1-to-1digital initiative, providing all 8,000 public school students with a connected device to use during school, and for older students, to use at home as well. The device initiative ensures all students have access to the digital resources they need to complete their school work.
Many students lack reliable connectivity at home, so these initiatives are aimed to close educational gaps. Students without a home computer might otherwise be unable to complete even basic writing assignments and eventually lag behind in basic digital skills they need for college or the workforce, placing them at an even greater disadvantage upon graduation.
“The students are now fully capable of doing everything we ask them to do, because everything is on the web,” Herbel said. “Internet connectivity is now crucial for our students.”
With thousands of new devices connecting to the district’s internet daily, Enid Public Schools felt the strain on their network. The district needed a network upgrade that matched their digital innovation. Thankfully, for the 2017-2018 school year, OneNet was able to upgrade their network from 1 GB to 4 GB while maintaining a reasonable cost for the school. In addition, the school now has split local loop connectivity. The split loop provides redundant network paths to the district, so if connectivity is lost on one path due to a fiber cut or other emergency, EPS can still remain online.
As a district with smart boards in every classroom and iPads or Chrome Books in the hands of every student, connectivity has become integral to providing high quality education. Students of all ages are immersed in digital opportunities, such as participating in a coding contest or attending a robotics fair.
“Enid Public Schools serves as a model for other districts in a digital age,” said Von Royal, OneNet executive director. “They are fully leveraging reliable internet to ensure all students receive a high caliber education while sustaining cost savings solutions. ”
With OneNet’s network as a secure foundation, Herbel and his team are constantly looking towards the future of technology in education. In the future he hopes to find ways to use digital tools to remove even more boundaries students might face, so all Enid students can face their future fully equipped with the tools they need.
Story by Alexandra Franklin