October 19, 2012
Amanda Schnieders, Kauffman Foundation
Educators Discuss Benefits, Troubles of Google Fiber in Schools
With so many fiberhoods in Kansas City qualified for Google Fiber, one of the real excitements is the number of public service buildings that will be fitted with free fiber when construction gets into full swing—especially Kansas City schools. But with Google’s habit of vague and limited information, some schools still have more than a handful of questions before they can sit back and enjoy the fiber benefits.
On Oct. 16, school representatives and IT specialists from Kansas City schools gathered at the Kansas City Kansas Public School Training Center at 2010 N. 59th St. for a meeting on high speed fiber in schools. The meeting’s purpose was mainly to bring reps together, who rarely get to brainstorm with each other outside of a few ties a year, to discuss the implications of Google Fiber in schools.
Some of the reps, from schools like Turner high school, Bonner Springs high school and Delaware Ridge elementary, wanted to know exactly what “give schools free service” means. When will it arrive? How much financial funding will schools need to provide to assist the fiber service, in terms of firewalls? How long does “free” really last for these schools?
These were just some of the questions thrown around as reps discussed whether they would leave their current contracts with KC Internet and cable providers like Time Warner Cable AT&T and others. Many of the reps were unsure if the free fiber offer would still be around/if when their contracts with another provider is up in a year.
Some educators were worried that Google’s presence as a business might allow their students to be bombarded with ads that could interfere with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Still others wondered if, because it was Google, schools would be forced to use Google Chrome as a browser, noting not everything is compatible with this particular web browser.
Most of the school officials were in agreement that the telecommunication field is in need of some disruption, and most were open to Google’s service, as long as could make sure it was worth their while. They all enjoyed discussing the issues together, and hope that Google’s system might provide them with more ways to collaborate across districts.
The one thing that everyone seemed to agree on was the importance of putting Google Fiber to good use.
“I just don’t want us to go out of state somewhere where people say ‘oh, you’re from Kansas City, what have you guys been doing with Google Fiber?’ and we have nothing to tell them,” one representative remarked.
Ultimately, the theme of the day was the need for more information. School officials are ready and waiting with a list of questions. Now, it’s just a matter of when is someone going to answer them.