E-rate Tips from the Pros
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. We’ve listened to customers who have used E-rate funding to create rich learning environments, and we’d like to share some of their best practices with you:
You’ve got to have the bandwidth
Antonio Romayer, Director of Technology at El Centro Elementary School District in California, knows the importance of providing sufficient bandwidth in a modern learning environment. “I was adamant about not putting the cart before the horse,” he said. “We had some devices already…. But for the most part, our wireless infrastructure wasn’t as stable or as scalable as it needed to be.”
The district was able to leverage E-rate funding to increase their network capacity to support digital instruction for all students, and now has some of the highest performing schools in their county.
Assess needs, prioritize, then build a plan
“What are you looking to accomplish with your system? Are you looking to stream video in every classroom or support a full 1:1 initiative with digital curriculum? Decide what you want to do first, then build your plan around that,” says Scott Miller, Director of Technology and Information Systems at Wayne Highlands School District.
The district’s goals included moving to a flipped classroom model and creating a 1:1, collaborative learning environment. Shortly after the E-rate program was modernized, they were able to leverage E-rate Category Two funding for a new, comprehensive wireless environment, which is also much simpler to manage. Now the district’s IT team is able to focus more time on new learning applications and less on fixing network issues.
Find the money
A funding strategy may be the most important part of a successful digital learning plan and implementation. E-rate will only fund certain technologies, plus as a discount program, it requires schools to put in matching funds for projects. See our recent blog on other funding sources to consider. Additionally, Cisco offers a range of programs that can help increase schools’ return on technology investment. In many cases, these special offers align with E-rate—though schools do not need to use E-rate funds to benefit from these programs.
Get familiar with E-rate
USAC recently shared their Top Ten Filing Window Tips and they have two E-rate program overview webinars coming up on April 5th and 6th for new applicants or anyone who needs a refresher on the program.
Be on the lookout for more blog posts in the coming weeks that highlight some of the great things our Cisco customers have been able to do with their E-rate funding.