Education and the National Broadband Plan

Posted by Michael Simkins on October 5, 2009

fiberOptics by Matt Tanguay-Carel.  Used with permission.
fiberOptics by Matt Tanguay-Carel. Used with permission.

Most of us are aware that work is underway at the Department of Education on a new National Educational Technology Plan, but you may not know that education figures prominently in another federal technology initiative, the National Broadband Plan being developing at the Federal Communications Commission.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directs the FCC to develop a plan that ensures every American citizen and every American business has access to robust broadband services.  The plan must include discrete strategies for how to use broadband to advance a wide range of national purposes from consumer welfare to health care delivery; education is among these.

To help collect ideas on what should go into the education component of the broadband plan, an IdeaScale portal is in place.   Here is a selection of some of the more interesting ideas contributed so far.

  • We’re asking the wrong question; it should be, “What kinds of research and development are needed to make emerging technology applications effective for learning?”
  • Collaboration, Internet research, and the organization and facilitation of the learning environment are the jobs of the modern educator; all of these technologies require broadband.
  • A blended model is best; use the technology and application that fits the current learning task.
  • In today’s challenging economic environment, the dramatically lower cost of broadband delivery makes the case for an online learning portal especially compelling.
  • Broadband can do more than just educate, it can inspire and open minds.

Have your own ideas about how broadband can make education better and/or cheaper?  Want to see what others have said and add your comments?  Like voting ideas up or down?  Visit US Educational Broadband Planning.

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Michael Simkins

Michael Simkins is Consulting Director of TICAL — the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership. Prior to that he was director of the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project and also served as COO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. He was an elementary schoolteacher for 17 years and an elementary principal for 9 years. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, when it was still a “sleepy beach town.”

4 thoughts on “Education and the National Broadband Plan”

  1. Wireless Broadband in rural areas of America would help in many ways. One being dial up would be a thing of the past. Many online learning programs require high speed internet. Student in rural areas could participate in online learning programs just like students in urban areas. With wireless broadband, teachers and students in rural areas could build hypermedia projects from home. With broadband and computers in every home the idea of a truly flat planet reaches rural America.

  2. Our state has been looking at how to do this here without much luck. To have the federal government intervene on behalf of all Americans would be a good thing. Most states would probably have difficulty in affording to pay for wireless broadband for the entire state.

  3. South Korea leads the world in rural broadband. The public-private partnership that this example typifies a concept that seems to have been lost in America: that public-private partnership is a necessity to expand public utility beyond high profit dense urban areas.

    I live in rural Arkansas. We did not gain access to DSL in my neighborhood until after a tornado destroyed an old,outdated telephone box less than 300 meters from my house. In the 1930s, rural electrification, as part of the New Deal, brought flood control and electricity to many ‘unprofitable’ areas in which various power companies now make profits.

    The infrastructure demands will be enormous, and this will require a public-private investment comparable to rural electrification. In my opinion, this is as much a necessity as electricity was in bringing rural farms into the 20th century. Without this capability, our national lead in economic success will fall.

  4. Imagine the Possibilities! The type of technology available to our students is diverse, but most hold one key similarity: Wireless ability. Itouch, kindle, most mobile phones, pda’s, laptops (old school), and netbooks (newer school) all have the ability to connect wirelessly, and while I am unsure of an exact number in all locations, I have done some work on my own in determining student access to that type of technology. While not every student has a computer at home and even less with internet access, basically all students in my school have access to at least one of the above listed technologies (either available to them some time during the day or, in most cases, in their possession at school). With that being the case, imagine the limitless possibilities for delivering instruction to our students if the federal government were to guarantee broadband access and with it wireless broadband access to the masses. We could cease to be a county of “have’s and have not’s”! Unlimited access to information, people, and places. A more utopian, technological society would be outside my scope of imagination. I challenge everyone to get involved in this movement and contact state and federal law makers and lobbyists to help make this dream a reality. Imagine the Possibilities!

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