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Officials at January Broadband Breakfast Club Tackle Mix of Technology and Learning

WASHINGTON, January 13, 2010 – Representatives from the federal government, educational organizations, trade associations, and school districts came together to discuss the state of broadband in our educational system and what can be expected from the national broadband plan under development by the Federal Communications Commission.

The session, the January Broadband Breakfast Club, commenced with a presentation by Steve Midgley, Director of Education at the Federal Communications Commission. Midgley began with a brief background of the national broadband plan mandate and the national purposes behind it.

He said that he believed that aside from the necessary deployment and adoption data that will be included in the plan, the success of the plan hinges on the agency’s answer to this specific question of Congress: “why are we building this network?”

To address this question, Midgley paired the priorities of the Department of Education with the four core strategies of the broadband plan’s education component.

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WASHINGTON, January 13, 2010 – Representatives from the federal government, educational organizations, trade associations, and school districts came together to discuss the state of broadband in our educational system and what can be expected from the national broadband plan under development by the Federal Communications Commission.

The session, the January Broadband Breakfast Club, commenced with a presentation by Steve Midgley, Director of Education at the Federal Communications Commission. Midgley began with a brief background (PPT) of the national broadband plan mandate and the national purposes behind it.

He said that he believed that aside from the necessary deployment and adoption data that will be included in the plan, the success of the plan hinges on the agency’s answer to this specific question of Congress: “why are we building this network?”

To address this question, Midgley paired the priorities of the Department of Education with the four core strategies of the broadband plan’s education component.

The Education Department’s plan is to transform education by:

  • improving standards and assessments,
  • developing advanced data systems,
  • fostering support for effective teachers, and
  • turning around the lowest performing schools.

Midgley paired these priorities to the FCC’s strategies of:

  • promoting and developing online learning,
  • digital content such as e-textbooks,
  • data standards and interoperability (including standardized education records), and
  • broadband infrastructure, including ways to drive more bandwidth to more schools where it is most needed.

Asked by an audience member about coordination between the national broadband plan and the National Educational Technology Plan, Midgley answered that “they interact as much as legally possible considering the FCC is not an executive branch agency.” Midgley admitted, “it is up to the FCC to decide what they present to Congress.”

He said that there will probably be some specific recommendations on changes to the E-Rate program for subsidizing connections to schools and libraries, which would likely lead to a notice of proposed regulatory changes.

Data presented by Midgley expressed the cost of digital exclusion, and of how classroom usage is driving the need for improved connectivity.

Key questions that need to be answered deal with the method of content delivery. Does hybrid learning alongside broadband in the classroom yield better results than distance learning, or should the two delivery platforms be used to deliver different forms of content? Midgley ended his presentation by posing these questions to the rest of the panelists.

The panel, moderated by Drew Clark, editor of BroadbandBreakfast.com, and executive director of BroadbandCensus.com, included: Greg Barlow, chief information officer for Anne Arundel Country Public School; Frank Gallagher, senior director of Cable in the Classroom; Matthew Ohlson, instructional leader of the Florida Virtual School and Wendy Wigen, government relations officer at EDUCAUSE.

In his first question Clark asked the panelists about the role that E-Rate has played since the 1990s. Specifically, how can E-Rate help when supposedly 100 percent of the schools are now already connected to broadband. He also asked for the perspective of higher education institutions and universities that have championed broadband.

Barlow began the discussion by admitting that while E-Rate has been very helpful in connecting schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, “in Baltimore and DC many schools still only have T1 connections…that is 27,000 computers fighting over a lot of space.” T1 connections are no longer as special as they once seemed. Additionally, he said, “25 students with one machine per classroom is no good.”

Barlow’s goal is to get a 1-1 ratio of computers and children. He said, “fortunately about 90 percent have internet connections at home” – but he admited that the children from the poor backgrounds tend to fall behind.

Gallagher expects that within five to seven years, schools will need 1 Gigabit per second (1 Gbps) of capacity per every 1000 students to support the growth of online learning.

He agreed with Barlow that there is an extreme disadvantage to children without broadband connections in the home. He listed the main barriers of adoption to the home as education barriers, worries about internet safety, affordability and simple lack of access to broadband in certain rural areas. As a potential solution he pointed to the cable industry’s proposed “Adoption Plus” program, where cable internet service providers provide computers to homes of children that qualified for subsidized lunches.

Ohlson’s Virtual School is a public school in Florida that reaches 124,000 students globally. Students either take courses from their traditional brick and mortar schools, or are home schooled, or are from military families and need greater flexibility.

“The statute creating E-Rate requires that the discount be provided on services used for ‘educational purposes,’ yet the way the program has been constructed is to provide discounts only to school buildings that serve students,” explained Ohlson. Since there is no actual brick-and-mortar school building, there is almost no support for his school.

“So while the telecommunications and ISP costs to support the Virtual School were more than $53 million in the 2008-2009 school year, the E-Rate reimbursement was only $5,237, [or] 0.01 percent of the total telecommunications costs incurred by students teachers, and the school.”

Higher education is a different story, said Wigen.

Community colleges, vocational schools as well as all leading research schools are all connected with technology. Of all EDUCAUSE members, about two hundred lead the way in research while the other several thousand struggle with access to education resources and remote access for their students.

The lack of resources at certain schools makes is essential for students to be able participate in distance learning, similarly for vocational and job training classes, the required simulations cannot be done on a dial up connection.

In response to a question on FCC support for distance learning, Midgley said that “we cannot design educational systems for yesterday.” Technologies for schools need to start looking towards other industries and observing the trends of decentralization and more telecommuting.

Barlow brought the discussion back to his idea of supplementing communications capabilities. While Barlow wants to see more focus on increasing technologies in classroom through handhelds and mobile devices, he does not want to see the technologies replace traditional classroom learning.

One audience member continued on the mobile use topic by pointing out the higher-than-average level of use of mobile devices by black and Hispanic youth. This audience member also noted that the average age of students using mobile devices is dropping. “How can we integrate children bringing technology into our schools?”

“Since technology funding is a huge issue…if a student is coming into a school with a cell phone, then lets leverage the parent’s investment to help our own technology needs,” Barlow answers.

He continued by mentioning that there is now technology to re-route packets through school networks in order to filter content. As for the platform for such a device, one panelists mentioned the benefits of applications such as iTunes University. Midgley then chimed in to say that there are laws surrounding filtering but each situation must be examined separately

Another audience member asked about the issues with real life versus online life in a learning context. Gallagher said that working with teachers and by providing professional development tools like Blackboard, we can “provide barriers to guiding kids in appropriate behavior online and offline.”

Wendy Wigen added that we need to stress hybrid learning as the most effective method of teaching. A lot more goes on in the schools that complement the actual learning. When asked about the broadband needs for hybrid learning, she said, “we need sufficient networks and devices, bandwidth and connections to participate in these technologies.”

One audience member asked about how rural schools can be balanced in the equation between funding and resources for broadband. Ohlson mentioned that “in Florida, rural areas where broadband is not an option, many students use cell phones to access learning resources…many students are going to libraries.” Ohlson reiterated the need to see E-Rate options and discounts for these students as well as studies to find out where the students are actually doing most of their learning.

The discussion ended with a question on the topic of speed and the need for the FCC to set a high definition of broadband speeds so that the rural school won’t be left behind.

Midgley said that the FCC’s broadband plan should should include the definition of broadband. “The broadband definition for the home is not suitable for speed definitions at a school. School broadband definitions should depend on meaningful use.” He finished by saying “as we define broadband, we need to say who is doing what with the connections they have.”

Editor’s Note: Video from the event will be available in a few days at https://broadbandbreakfast.com/category/broadband-tv, or click on “Broadband TV” above. To register for the February 9 Broadband Breakfast Club, click here.

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

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Broadband Breakfast on January 19, 2022 — The Community Broadband Network Approach to Infrastructure Funding

Community broadband networks will play a crucial role in implementation of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act.

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See Infrastructure Bill Brings New Focus on Decision Making at Community Level, Broadband Breakfast, January 24, 2022

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the January 19, 2022, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 12 Noon ET — The Community Broadband Network Approach to Infrastructure Funding

Community broadband networks will play a crucial role in the implementation of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, particularly the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, and the Digital Equity Act. This vital session of Broadband Breakfast Live Online will bring our friends from MuniNetworks.org, the Community Broadband Networks Initiative of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, to discuss the issues, trends and concerns they are following. What open questions remain about the IIJA rules? How do the Treasury Department’s rules on the State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program interact with the IIJA program? What concerns should community networks have about the next stages of federal funding in their states?

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • DeAnne Cuellar, Community Broadband Outreach Team Lead, ILSR’s Community Broadband Network Initiative
  • Sean Gonsalves, Senior Reporter, Editor and Researcher, ILSR’s Community Broadband Network Initiative
  • Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, Senior Researcher, ILSR’s Community Broadband Network Initiative
  • Christopher Mitchell, Director, ILSR’s Community Broadband Network Initiative
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Please note: Our event on “State Broadband Officials and the Broadband Infrastructure Surge” has been moved to February 16, 2022.

Panelist resources:

DeAnne Cuellar is a tech equity advocate and communications strategist from San Antonio, Texas. She served as Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s digital inclusion appointee to the City of San Antonio’s Innovation & Technology Committee, resulting in several policy and funding priorities to close the digital divide. As a social impact entrepreneur, she co-founded several cross-sector nonprofit initiatives, advocating for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for historically underrepresented communities.

Sean Gonsalves is a longtime former reporter, columnist, and news editor with the Cape Cod Times. He is also a former nationally syndicated columnist in 22 newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune, Kansas City Star and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Washington Post and the International Herald-Tribune. Sean joined the Institute for Local Self Reliance staff in October 2020 as a senior reporter, editor and researcher for ILSR’s Community Broadband Network Initiative.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken is Senior Researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative. He is interested in the democratizing power of technology, systems engineering, and the history of science, technology, and medicine. Previously, Ry worked as an Adjunct Professor of American History in Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Minnesota. Ry holds a Ph.D. in American History from Oklahoma State University.

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis. Mitchell, a leading national expert on community networks, Internet access, and local broadband policies, built MuniNetworks.org, the comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about local government policies to improve Internet access. Its interactive community broadband network map tracks more than 600 such networks. He also hosts audio and video shows online, including Community Broadband Bits and Connect This!, and Public Knowledge presented Christopher with its Internet Protocol award in 2021, which honors those who have made significant contributions to Internet policy.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Breakfast for Lunch on February 9, 2022 — Harnessing Cryptocurrency

Broadband Breakfast returns to being the “go to” gathering place for broadband policy and internet technology in Washington.

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There are two ways to participate in this event: IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE. To attend in person, sign up to attend in person through Eventbrite. Please arrive for lunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C., by 11:30 a.m. to be seated for lunch. The program will begin promptly at 12 Noon ET.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Harnessing Cryptocurrency

Join us in person for a Broadband Breakfast for Lunch on cryptocurrency. In Broadband Breakfast’s premiere session on the subject of decentralized finance, we’ll explore recent developments in the blockchain, consider the ways that that cryptocurrencies are impacting global financial transactions and transfers, and address government officials’ attempts to harness – or to banish – blockchain-based digital coinage.

There are two ways to participate in this event: IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE. To attend in person, sign up to attend in person through EventbritePlease arrive for lunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place (The Piedmont Room), 707 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C., by 11:30 a.m. to be seated for lunch. The program will begin promptly at 12 Noon ET.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Continue Reading

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Broadband Breakfast on February 2, 2022 — Groundhog Day Special on Broadband Mapping (Part 1)

Mapping will play an essential role in the success of the IIJA.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Better Broadband Mapping, Part 1

This Broadband Breakfast Live Online event will kick off a series about how we can get better broadband mapping and data for making the most of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act funds. We’ll speak with policy-makers, map-makers, state officials and those building out broadband relying on broadband maps.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Continue Reading

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