FCC hosts digital learning summit

FCC hosts digital learning summit

Summary: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Education are hosting an executive digital learning summit today in Washington, D.C.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Education are hosting an executive digital learning summit today in Washington, D.C. Claiming support for mobile learning and digital education, T-Mobile announced successful programs in several U.S. schools that are leveraging the company’s high-speed network and mobile broadband devices for a range of purposes, including tutoring, textbook replacement and mobile Internet access at school and at home.

Noting that annual textbook costs for U.S. K-12 public schools has reached nearly $8 billion1, the FCC and the Department of Education have encouraged the country to transition to interactive digital learning within the next five years.

Today, T-Mobile’s President and CEO Philipp Humm and other industry leaders will participate in the next step of that vision by discussing -- alongside FCC and Department of Education leadership -- how technology can be leveraged and new offers created to support a widespread digital education ecosystem.

Aside: Okay, how weird is it that the CEO of a mobile phone carrier has the name Humm? Can you hear me now?

“Advancements in mobile technology are rapidly changing how and where students learn, shifting from a paper textbook in a classroom during school hours to a nearly everywhere, all-the-time digital education,” Humm said. “Our work with the FCC and others to advance the Digital Learning initiative and put devices and connectivity in the hands of students will not only help them learn more effectively, but can positively impact our country’s future economic growth.”

  • While AT&T, FCC behave like petulant schoolchildren, 1900 people suffer job losses
  • To further highlight the need for an expansion of mobile learning solutions and programs, the FCC asserts that approximately 100 million Americans, nearly one-third of the country, don’t have high-speed Internet at home. Unfortunately, those students without access are six to eight percent less likely to graduate than students with connectivity at home2.

    Though federally funded programs, like E-rate, have helped more U.S. schools access the Internet, many do not have the connection speeds needed to deploy a successful mobile learning program3. However, today’s mobile broadband devices have the potential to close that gap, particularly with respect to connectivity, access and functionality. America’s K-12 schools are beginning to deploy these solutions and carriers like T-Mobile want to get a piece of the pie by partnering with many of them as they do so.

    “Reliable connectivity and affordable data access is critical to the success of these mobile learning programs,” said Frank Sickinger, vice president, MNC and federal government sales at T-Mobile USA. Many of you will recall that I spent a fascinating hour with Frank just a few months ago.

    See also: T-Mobile VP sounds off on Carrier IQ, AT&T, BlackBerry, iPhone, and eGov (exclusive interview)

    “With highly capable mobile broadband solutions running on our high-speed, nationwide 4G network, T-Mobile is able to deliver value to these programs, impact communities across the nation, and contribute to the future of U.S. education.”

    Among the successes spotlighted by Sickinger, the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township in Indiana and Illinois-based Learn Charter School Network and Youth Connection Charter Schools are all working with T-Mobile to establish innovative textbook replacement programs. In Texas, 1 to 1 Tutor Distance Learning and has deployed mobile broadband solutions to students to improve online instruction.

    Similarly, Colorado’s online G.O.A.L. Academy is deploying of mobile broadband devices to at-risk students requiring online learning, tutoring and mentoring. Monterey Ridge Elementary School, a California Distinguished Award recipient, is deploying tablet solutions that allow them to enhance the digital learning experience while still utilizing existing technology and solutions, such as smartboards, digital projectors and current eLearning curriculum.

    Other resources:

    Topics: Government US, Government, Mobility, Wi-Fi

    About

    David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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    8 comments
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    • Students without broadband access

      David says:

      "To further highlight the need for an expansion of mobile learning solutions and programs, the FCC asserts that approximately 100 million Americans, nearly one-third of the country, don???t have high-speed Internet at home. Unfortunately, those students without access are six to eight percent less likely to graduate than students with connectivity at home2."

      I really don't think that there is a cause and effect relationship here. It's well known that children from poor families are much less likely to graduate from high school than those of more affluent ones.
      John L. Ries
    • Contracting out education

      I think what tech companies and everyone else should be doing, as advocating educational reform. I believe the government should be contracting out the running of the schools to private companies. (Like how the government contracts out work in departments like the Department of Defense.) The government could then: require students take standardized tests; periodically send out field inspectors; and maybe contract out private accreditation bodies, to accredit / rate the quality of the work taking place at each school. I expect the political push back for this move would be severe, but I believe this may be the most doable solution for our archaic, troubled school system.

      I believe the above could be gradually implemented in districts that would be least resistant to the move, then have the transformation propagated everywhere. Just imagine if our military technologies were produced primarily by government workers. Does anyone believe we would have the quality technologies and innovations we have today? I believe the only hope for our public school system, is that it be run by private companies. This would lead to educational innovation, high quality education, high quality teachers, teachers getting paid more, etc.

      I believe when the above is implemented, everyone wins, and we'll have an efficient and effective machinery, to propel education into the future.
      P. Douglas
      • Sarcasm: Because...

        ...privately owned monopolies run by corporate executives focused on their sacred mission to maximize profit will always work better than publicly owned ones.

        Therefore privatize everything, including the courts, military, and police.
        John L. Ries
        • I think using more and more private contractors are great

          [i]...privately owned monopolies run by corporate executives focused on their sacred mission to maximize profit will always work better than publicly owned ones.[/i]

          Not withstanding your colorful characterization, public tasks which are contracted out to private companies, are consistently done better, than when bureaucrats perform these tasks themselves.

          [i]Therefore privatize everything, including the courts, military, and police.[/i]

          I believe more and more public responsibilities should be contracted out - within reason. A good example is the Post Office. I think the government should hire a company to take over the running of the Post Office, and this company could possibly use sub-contractors in its operations. The government could then oversee the operation of this enterprise.
          P. Douglas
        • Do not privarize

          look at the history of public utilities! Very efficient and cost effective. Privatized and became very inefficient and expensive!
          lorc629
      • But seriously...

        I actually see several problems with this:

        1. I've long observed that the quality of service degrades in proportion to the number of middlemen between the giver and the receiver of the service. There a number of reasons for this, the biggest one being ease of "plausible deniability".

        2. Government contractors are even harder to fire than are civil servants, and their lobbyists tend to be better paid.

        3. Chances are excellent that if the vast majority of public education were to be contracted out, the market would be concentrated among a handful of contractors nationwide (probably not more than five), making the system far more centralized and less responsive to local concerns than it is today, and giving contractors much more leverage than any teacher's union ever dreamed of having.

        On the whole, I'd much rather that local school boards remain in charge.

        Reply to P. Douglas:

        If the effort were well managed, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I have yet to see any real evidence that governments (or private businesses, for that matter) manage contractors or franchises any better than they do their own employees. It's one thing to use contractors for temporary needs; it's quite another to use them for full time, ongoing needs.

        I humbly suggest that your enthusiasm for outsourcing is ideologically driven.

        I do suggest you read the chapters in Machiavelli's Discourses on the subject of mercenaries (military affairs were his area of expertise), together with some reasearch on the uses of government contract work by political machines (the career of "Boss" Tweed being the prime example). There are reasons why there are so many laws and rules regarding government procurement and contracting, and why mercenary armies and privateers (once the most common forms of governmental outsourcing) fell out of favor centuries ago.
        John L. Ries
        • I see nothing wrong with using private contractors

          If the effort is managed well, the end result will be far better than what bureaucrats can deliver. As for your concern about contractors being responsive to the local community, it will be the local community which will be hiring them, and the contractors will be beholden to it.
          P. Douglas
    • Online Education

      To address the concern as to weather or not online students get proper instruction the answer is, YES! I am confident that I will be more than ready to teach once I earn my degree from High Speed Universities.
      kelvinfuhrman