Setting a Good Example for Students Related to Internet Use

t is easy to forget the irritating little pains of the past.  Most of us have LONG forgotten the dreadfully slow Internet access that was experienced district wide near the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year. Painstakingly slow connections that made viewing instructional videos nearly impossible, halted some of our virtual academy students school work in its tracks, and wasted precious instructional minutes.  With our robust new Internet connection in the School District of Waukesha, we seem to have MORE THAN ENOUGH bandwidth to go around this year.  Right?


This is just a reminder that your actions as a classroom teacher, as a supervising staff member, as a member of our professional community, matter.  We model for kids.  Kids watch us closely.  Just as we teach them with our words, we teach them with our actions, as well as our inability to act when we should.  With that said, the example below is just one example of a way in which we can all set a better example for students.


We all know that the college basketball event known as "March Madness" can be a lot of fun.  This year's March Madness was even more special with Marquette and UW-Madison making it to the tournament.  As seems to be the case every March, a dedicated few sports fans seem to find ways to keep tabs on the game in a wide variety of ways.   While it is ultimately harmless fun (that can seem almost necessary by that point in the school year), what we often fail to see is the impact that Internet use has on those around us (across the entire school district).


The graph below demonstrates the bandwidth consumed in the School District of Waukesha during the time the first round of the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament was being played.  The red arrows and vertical red lines on the graph indicate the beginning and end of the basketball game played on that day.



Points worthy of noting:


  • The bandwidth consumed in the final moments of the game is more than 10x the TOTAL bandwidth AVAILABLE in the district during the last school year
  • Though our bandwidth use in general is about 4x higher this year than last year (a sign that our educational use of the Internet is far greater than what was even available last year), during the game our bandwidth use jumped substantially, and then returned to normal levels following the conclusion of the game (indicating an excessive amount of viewership for some event that happened within that time period...see if you can determine what it might be)
  • Almost all of the traffic reported came from two sources, both of which were broadcasting the NCAA tournament at that time.
  • 2 - 3 times the normal Internet traffic consumed during this period was streamed to about 130 users across the district -- that is approximately only 1-2% of our total number of users across the district
  • Despite our incredible 1 Gig connection (an incredibly robust infrastructure in any school district), we topped out our usage.  This is same situation that took place near the mid to end of last year that caused the haltingly slow Internet speeds across the district.

While it is easy to track these stats on a day when we can predict additional bandwidth usage, such as during March Madness, the reality is that many of us have daily Internet use habits that chew away at the bandwidth intended for meaningful teaching and learning.  Whether that is having Pandora or iHeartRadio streaming all day in the background, watching Netflix or YouTube, maintaining constantly open windows with Tumblr, Facebook, and other services, or using the network for a wide variety of other uses not focused on education, the reality is the same -- your actions on our network impact others directly.  


As we gear up for Waukesha One, which will see a major influx of devices hitting our Internet connection, it becomes even more important for us to set a good example for students.  Asking a student to turn off a gaming site or a streaming radio station is much easier when we avoid using similar services ourself.  Instructing a student to turn off his/her sporting or gaming event of choice is a more clear cut conversation when we have resisted the temptation to turn on that March Madness game while at school.  This conversation will become even more relevant as we see our regular use of the Internet grow significantly as we make a change to more digitally focused teaching and learning.


All Internet use contributes to our overall bandwidth consumption! Overusing our Internet resources for non-educational purposes ultimately slows down the access for all -- including for teaching and learning.  Set a good example.  Help your kids see why educationally relevant use of the Internet matters at school.  Protect one of our most valuable resources!