Federal Communications Commission

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Broadband and the Future for Educational Technology

March 12th, 2010 by Janice Morrison - Expert Advisor

Educators got a preview of the enhanced role educational technology is expected to play in the future of K-12 education during a webcast aired March 10, 2010. The webcast, titled The Future for Educational Technology in K-12 Education Policy and Practice, was hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

The webcast combined an overview the U.S. Department of Education’s National Educational Technology Plan (NETP), released March 5, with a preview of the educational portion of the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), scheduled to be released March 17. Similar themes ran through the two presentations, and it was clear that the two plans are well coordinated to achieve the goal of using the power of technology to transform teaching and learning to enable anywhere, anytime learning.

Karen Cator, Director of Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education shared highlights of the NETP, titled Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology.  She emphasized that the Department of Education considers the plan a beta release and looks forward to comments, ideas and stories to improve it.  The Department is collecting comments for at least 60 days here.

Steve Midgley, Education Director for the Omnibus Broadband Initiative at the FCC presented a summary of the proposed recommendations for Kindergarten through graduate education from the NBP. He emphasized that the FCC plan addresses issues of infrastructure and policy needed to address the goals and grand challenges of the NETP.

The NBP will recommend upgrading the E-rate program, which provides discounted telecommunications and Internet services to schools and libraries. The plan will also make recommendations to improve and expand online learning as well as help unlock the power of data to personalize learning and improve decision-making.

The recommended upgrades to E-rate will include streamlining the application process, giving school districts more flexibility in using the lowest cost option when developing infrastructure, indexing the E-rate funding cap to inflation, and allowing schools the option of permitting after-hours use of school connectivity for adult education, job training and other community uses. The plan will also recommend support for pilot programs of wireless connectivity on and off-campus, and will include a competitive funding program to encourage the development of networks that will serve as models for the future of the nation’s schools.

The speakers from both agencies emphasized the need for effective online learning to improve equitable access to advanced coursework and high quality teachers in all subject areas in rural and other areas where access is now limited. And both plans will address the need to improve digital literacy for teachers and students.

An archive of Wednesday’s entire webcast can be accessed here.

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Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones