Why Net Neutrality Matters to Education

Image Credit: edSurge

Net neutrality–it’s a set of rules that makes the web free, ensuring equal treatment for all Internet traffic, regardless of whether one is browsing Khan Academy videos or cat clips.

At present, the rules prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from showing preferential treatment to content providers of any kind, ensuring that the biggest and smallest of sites on the web are accessible.

But last week, new policies from the Federal Communications Commission could put an end to these protections. The FCC’s newly-unveiled rules will permit ISPs to charge “commercially reasonable” rates to content providers like Netflix for “fast lanes” for better access to their users.

Although many schools heavily filter web content to comply with federal e-rate regulations, the loss of net neutrality would immediately impact:

  • Free and open source web tools for education that could be edged out by for-profit competitors who can afford to pay for better access to their customers.
  • Open source textbook adoption initiatives that rely on volunteer work and donations to create content could suffer from lower-tier access in schools.
  • Wikis and collaborative sites that allow for educators to share content could be edged out by larger resource-sharing sites that can afford to pay for faster access to schools.
  • School and university libraries that serve as gateways for hard-to-access information, as lesser-used databases and niche research tools for academics would suffer from 3rd party interference from larger publishers.

 

The FCC’s new rules could effectively create a new kind of digital divide among students.

Read the entire article by Jessy Irwin on edSurge at https://www.edsurge.com/n/2014-04-29-why-net-neutrality-matters-to-education

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