The Verizon Foundation in September announced a 5G EdTech Challenge for nonprofits who can develop 5G-enabled apps that can transform and innovate teaching and learning. 5G is poised to become the leading mobile network technology in North America by 2025.

Meanwhile, the ed-tech industry will reach $252 billion in spending by 2020. While this particular challenge focuses on helping middle school students from under-resourced communities, there is room for innovative technologies in all sectors of K-12 education.

5G mobile wireless technology is faster, more responsive, and has more bandwidth than current standards, which means that it can offer a more advanced and integrated learning environment. 5G will also make it easy for schools to use emerging technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality or artificial intelligence in their instruction models.

But are schools ready for it? School districts should prepare to adopt this new generation of broadband which will not only mean increased data speeds but a 1,000 percent increase in responsiveness.

A fully functioning 5G network will change the way schools manage a digital learning environment. It opens up the possibility for tactile interaction with remote objects with virtually no latency across great distances. 5G teaching and learning technologies can revolutionize education for all locations, urban and rural alike.

To prepare for the 5G revolution, school districts have to rethink their existing business agreements with telecommunications carriers. They also need to think about doing away with the complex and costly legacy hardwired networks that are supporting classrooms at present.

The faster network speeds, increased device capacity, and lower latency will be a vast improvement on the 4G LTE networks that are in use right now. Districts have to plan for a budget that will incorporate advanced devices to match the increased bandwidth when the time comes.

What are some of the tangible advantages of 5G in an educational environment?

  • Automatic logging into classrooms
  • Real-time feedback to a lecturer
  • Real-time analyses of notes
  • Expanding the capacity for mixed-reality content and video in the classroom
  • Decrease the delay time for downloads
  • Reduce distractions with alerts
  • Reduce lag times and barriers, which will lead to a better VR/AR experience

For the current classes of digitally immersed students, 5G will significantly improve experiences, video downloads and make for a more useful tool for teachers in the classroom.

K-12 schools have just begun experimenting with IoT integration. The fifth wireless network generation will take these experiments and expand teachers’ abilities in the classroom. For students, the integration in the classroom that 5G can offer will increase engagement and performance, give them better access to higher education and new career paths.