Net Neutrality and its benefits for students
What is Net Neutrality?
In laymen terms, Net Neutrality is the idea that all the content on the Internet should be treated equally by Internet Service Providers (ISP). We think all data on the internet is equally accessible but that is not true. With Net Neutrality the ISP can not discriminate, block or slow down specific websites and no special treatment is to be given to websites which pay the ISPs.
Benefits for Students
1. All content equally accessible
The Internet has been a great support for students all over the world, be it students in a school or a college or somebody taking online courses. There are great educational resources available on the internet which has made our generation smarter. But what we do not understand is without Net Neutrality our local ISPs favor some websites over other websites.
This may be harmful as we start to see that same website for all our needs, so in the long run, our thinking is directed by the content of one website only. Small websites which are new in this market, which that do not have that bigger presence or which do not have the capability to give money to the ISPs are not favored by the ISPs.
So the harsh reality is that we do not get the educational resources equally from different websites. And this is not even the worst part, our ISPs can block a particular website also.
So with Net Neutrality, all these problems disappear and all content on the internet is equally accessible. We at Edubee think this is great because, with this equality, the students can choose which study resources they find more helpful. When multiple resources are available on the same topic, this gives the students a wider spectrum of information and they gain more knowledge than before.
2. Equal Lanes instead of Fast and Slow Lanes
If we consider the educational needs of students and say they access their educational resources from a website, for example, let us name this website ABC. To explain this we say ABC is situated in a place (internet) which is only accessible by a highway (ISPs), now this highway should normally have multiple lanes where different users (other education technology-related companies) travel back and forth. Now considering ABC is a giant in the education technology world it can give money to the ISPs so that the ISPs can provide their data a faster lane or path to their clients i.e the students.
So the big giant websites or companies are traveling in the fast lane and the other lanes are made slower. This is the concept of fast and slow lanes.
But in Net Neutrality all the lanes should be treated equally. So the educational resources present on side ABC which is a giant company is equally accessible like that of a company XYZ which is a very small company.
This equality in data from all sources serves the students best as they can analyze resources and choose which one is best for them.
3. No Special Data Caps for Videos
We all love watching videos online. Be it online tutorials of a new language or anything else. You might have noticed some mobile internet providers luring us with no data cap on some particular apps by which you can watch live matches and latest movies without even spending any data.
This is a clear example of neglecting net neutrality. Because they are letting you watch the match online for no data cap from let's say company ABC but they will not provide you with free educational resource videos with no data cap from let's say company XYZ. So when there is no equality between the two resources, net neutrality dies.
So with Net Neutrality in place, all data will be treated as equal and the ISPs can not favor one data over the other.
In some cases the user may have to pay more but equality is established and we should not give up equality or net neutrality just to save a few bucks.
4. Faster Speed
Net Neutrality will affect the Internet Speeds also. So the time taken to load a video tutorial on your device will be reduced. This happens due to the fast and slow lane concept explained earlier.
When some companies pay the ISPs to favor their website, it comes by giving them faster lanes or more bandwidth. So we can say that the big companies are traveling faster and faster and the small companies traveling slower and slower.
So all the educational resources available for students on other websites might suffer if net neutrality is not there. With net neutrality when all lanes are treated equally, all the data is available to the user at the same speed.
We at Edubee believe what Mike Caulfield (Director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University, Vancouver) said i.e. “Killing net neutrality will throw us back to the Dark Ages”.
Net Neutrality is not only something that our society needs but also it is our fundamental right.