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One Web Day Lands New Executive Director; Mitch Kapor as Chairman

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2009 – With a grant from the Ford Foundation, the non-profit organization One Web Day has brought on board Nathaniel James as the organization’s first full-time, paid staff position since its 2006 founding by Susan Crawford, now an Obama administration official.

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WASHINGTON, May 27, 2009 – With a grant from the Ford Foundation, the non-profit organization One Web Day has brought on board Nathaniel James as the organization’s first full-time, paid staff position since its 2006 founding by Susan Crawford, now an Obama administration official.

In addition to Nathaniel James, who spearheaded One Web Day 2008 activities in Washington on a volunteer basis, philanthropist and software entrepreneur Mitch Kapor is taking the reins of the organization as chairman.

Crawford, who was a law professor at the University of Michigan when she joined the Obama presidential transition team responsible for the Federal Communications Commission, is now a National Economic Council advisor.

Held annually on September 22, One Web Day is a global event designed to “celebrate the power of Web for positive change,” and to excite the interest of both policy makers and internet users toward creating the greatest possibility to use this means for the common good.

Crawford has said that the idea for this event came from Earth Day, where instead of celebrating the natural world, virtual connections across the globe are drawn together.

Through this aggregation, One Web Day aims to provide faster and affordable broadband coverage for education and entrepreneurial creativity that comes through reducing the Internet opportunity disparity.

In 2008, BroadbandCensus.com was an active participant in the Washington, D.C. efforts of One Web Day. Broadband Census.com published a series of articles about broadband within one-third of the United States in the lead-up to the event, and encouraging One Web Day participants to Take the Broadband Census!

Additionally, One Web Day was a non-profit sponsor of the “Broadband Census for America Conference” on September 26, 2008, an event organized by BroadbandCensus.com, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Virginia Tech.

Having experience with the Media and Democracy Coalition, James “brings a unique blend of skills and experiences as an organizer on communications policy,” according to a post on Kapor’s blog.

One Web Day seeks to tackle a range of internet policy issues. For example, internet service providers are increasingly attempting to increase surveillance on users and bill for differing uses, much as telephone companies traditionally did.

James and Kapor are also likely to focus on issues pertaining to inadequate skills, and the fear of the Internet that rural and low-income areas face as a result of limited access. Creating new opportunities to use the Web will also be a major concern for James, as well as combating internet restrictions.

With at least one paid full-time employee, the nascent organization hopes to build One Web Day into a future success. Last year the organization extended from the U.S. to London, Paris, Tunisia, Copenhagen and Melbourne.

James aims to increase global mobilization for this annual celebration. As Craig Newmark called the Internet as a “democratizing medium,” One Web Day is striving to further this democracy to nations all over the world in line with its new “promise of digital inclusion” theme.

The Ford Foundation describes itself as an organization that strives to “strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.”

Broadband's Impact

Baltimore Needs Grassroots Help to Bridge Digital Divide, Experts Say

‘Baltimore lags behind many cities when it comes to the number of households with home internet connections.’

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Photo of Jason Hardebeck, director of Baltimore's Office of Broadband and Digital Equity

WASHINGTON, July 5, 2022 – Local leaders from Baltimore said at a Next Century Cities event that there needs to be an alignment with the community and leadership when it comes to closing the digital divide.

“Baltimore lags behind many cities when it comes to the number of households with home internet connections,” said Amalia Deloney from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, which invests in projects to improve the quality of life in the city. The foundation estimates that 74,116 households don’t have internet access.

The event’s speakers pointed to digital redlining, in which segments of racial minority and lower income Americans are disconnected from services or can be considered living in low priority areas.

Jason Hardebeck, director of Baltimore’s Office of Broadband and Digital Equity, said the city is a “pioneer in redlining,” and “a century later, we still see the effect on the digital divide.”

To address this, Deloney said the foundation’s approach to the digital divide in Baltimore by starting at the social level through its Digital Equity Leadership Lab. This is a program for Baltimore residents to “increase their understanding of the internet and strengthen their ability to advocate for fast, affordable and reliable broadband.”

The program aims to train and build leadership within the community to advocate for closing the digital divide. It points to a strategy of bringing “advocates together with community leaders,” as “digital equity is social, not a technological problem,” said Colin Rhinesmith, founder and director of the Digital Equity Research Center.

Michelle Morton from the National Telecommunications Infrastructure Association also said local leaders need to work with community members to have a bottom-up approach. “You have to work with the people doing the work on the ground.

“Their voices matter,” said Morton.

Mayor Brandon Scott has allocated $35 million from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to close the digital divide across Baltimore “by the end of this decade.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said that it was the the Benton Institute, and not Next Century Cities, that hosted this Baltimore event. The story has been corrected.

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Education

Metaverse Can Serve as a Supplement, Not Replacement, For Educators: Experts

The virtual world where avatars can meet as if they were in real life can be a companion for education.

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Screenshot of the Brookings event Tuesday

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 – Experts said at a Brookings Institution event said Tuesday that while the “metaverse” can go a long way toward improving education for some students, it should serve as a supplement to those educational goals.

The metaverse refers to a platform of 3D virtual worlds where avatars, or virtual characters, meet as if they were in the real world. The concept has been toyed with by Facebook parent Meta and is being used as a test for the educational space.

“The metaverse is a world that is accessible to students and teachers across the globe that allows shared interactions without boundaries in a respectful optimistic way,” Simran Mulchandani, founder of education app Project Rangeet, said at Tuesday’s event.

Panelists stated that as the metaverse and education meet, researchers, educators, policymakers and digital designers should take the lead, so tech platforms do not dictate educational opportunities.

“We have to build classrooms first, not tech first,” said Mulchandani.

Rebecca Kantar, the head of education at Roblox – a video game platform that allows players to program games – added that as the metaverse is still emerging and being constructed, “we can be humble in our attempt to find the highest and best way to bring the metaverse” into the classroom for the best education for the future.

Anant Agarwal, a professor at MIT and chief open education officer for online learning platform edX, stated the technology of the metaverse has the potential to make “quality and deep education accessible to everybody everywhere.”

Not a replacement for real social experiences

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, senior fellow of the global economy and development at the Center for Universal Education, said that while the metaverse brings potential to improve learning, it is not a complete replacement for the social experience a student has in the classroom.

“The metaverse can’t substitute for social interaction. It can supplement.”

Mulchandani noted the technology of the metaverse cannot replace the teacher, but rather can serve to solve challenges in the classroom.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption

‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.

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Photo of Kelley Dunne, CEO of AmeriCrew, leading panel on workforce issues at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.

Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.

Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.

In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.

At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.

The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.

“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.

She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.

In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.

In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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