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Blog // Connect Iowa

Broadband Hero for Adoption and Use: John Carver

By Lyndsey Kleven

John Carver, Superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek CSD, has been selected as Connect Iowa’s newest Broadband Hero awardee for adoption and use. Carver is being recognized by Connect Iowa at the state Broadband Summit for his efforts in helping to foster high-speed broadband adoption and use in Iowa. This may include efforts related to the need for digital literacy training, increased awareness of broadband relevance, barriers related to affordability; innovative use of broadband-enabled technologies resulting in improved job creation, economic development, business or government services.

The mission at Howard-Winneshiek Community School District is to prepare and empower students to think creatively, serve, contribute, and succeed locally – but also globally. In order to ensure students can compete on a global level, John recognizes that one vital component of the School District’s mission entails the need to instill better broadband infrastructure, especially in the more rural areas of the District.

Nestled in Northeast Iowa, Howard-Winn serves more than 1,300 students and covers 426 square miles, making it the second largest district (by landmass) in the state of Iowa. Many of the Districts’ students live in rural areas, and they do not currently have the same access to the reliable Internet that they do at school. Meanwhile, many do not have the same access to the Internet that those who live in the more populated communities have. This creates a culture of “haves” and “have nots.”

In regard to 21st century education, John recognizes it is vital that all students and educators are able to connect, collaborate, and learn from others within the District, as well as around the world.

John recognizes the need to “bridge the digital divide”– to “level the playing field” – for all students.

Howard-Winn has recently gone one-to-one with digital devices. Every student from kindergarten through 12th grade has been issued a digital device. The younger students have iPads while the older students have MacBook Airs.

 John sees the need to keep in mind that with any of the technology, it is not ‘standalone.’ “It’s to be imbedded seamlessly into the instruction. . .the intent is that it would be another tool – like a piece of paper and a pencil, or a book – as is all of the technology that we have.”

These days, it’s not unheard of for Howard-Winn students and teachers to collaborate assignments, via social media like Skype, with classrooms from other countries – including Russia, the United Kingdom, and Brazil – while in a controlled classroom setting. John encourages this educational freedom.

It’s also not unheard of for students at Howard-Winn to work on “homework” via their digital devices, whether it’s after school hours on nights and weekends, or during a sick day. Oftentimes, students stay connected to their teachers and classrooms even when school is cancelled because of inclement weather. John encourages the concept that learning doesn’t have to stop just because school is not in session.

Broadband Internet makes it possible for students to keep up with and even advance further with their schoolwork. However, not all students have reliable Internet access outside of school, which happens to be a problem for which John is actively pursuing a solution.

Additionally, John encourages all staff at Howard-Winn to communicate via social media, sharing educational experiences, often including photos and videos, with the world. On Twitter alone, collectively, it is estimated that the Howard-Winn staff currently has about 30,000 followers. [See: #2020HowardWinn and #cadetnation]

He has also implemented the “Weekly Administrative Update” in order to promote transparency within the District and to keep stakeholders informed. This update is circulated via Facebook and Twitter and is posted on the homepage of the District’s website each week during the school year.

Connect Iowa thanks John Carver for championing broadband use throughout the district and his assistance with Iowa’s technological developments.

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