Federal Communications Commission

Education Category

FCC Chairman Announces Jobs-Focused Digital Literacy Partnership Between Connect2Compete and the 2,800 American Job Centers

July 23rd, 2012 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

by: Jordan Usdan and Kevin Almasy, Public-Private Initiatives

July 23rd, 2012

We know today’s job market is more competitive than ever, but trying to find a job without knowing how to use the Internet is becoming nearly impossible.  Over 80% of Fortune 500 companies, from Target to Wal-Mart, require online job applications.  In the next decade, it is estimated that nearly 80% of jobs will require digital skills. From call center workers, to retail employees, to receptionists, to even manufacturers and construction workers, the jobs of today and tomorrow require digital skills. 

The fact that 66 million Americans are without basic digital literacy skills, the skillset needed to use a computer and the Internet, is troubling both for job seekers and employers alike. In fact, 52% of American employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions, up from 14% in 2010, due to the nationwide skills gap.

As the costs of digital exclusion rises, what’s at stake is not only the competitiveness of the American workforce, but also the vitality of our country in the 21st century.  The good news is the private sector, government, and philanthropy are working together, through the Connect2Compete (C2C) coalition, to help close the digital divide and the skills gap.

Last week, Chairman Genachowski and Secretary of Labor Solis announced a nationwide digital literacy partnership between the 2,800 American Job Centers and C2C, extending the digital literacy training coalition to thousands of communities across the country. 

The announcement is part of C2C’s effort to help narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access, computers, educational and jobs content, and digital literacy training more accessible for millions of Americans without home connectivity. C2C, a public-private partnership, is comprised of more than 40 non-profit and private sector partners, such as Best Buy, Discovery, LULAC, the National Urban League, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The Job Centers will join C2C’s existing digital literacy coalition of libraries, non-profits, and community centers as a computing and digital literacy provider. In addition, all participating American Job Centers will promote C2C’s broadband adoption offerings, which include discounted Internet service and refurbished laptop computers. 

C2C also announced that it will launch a database to help Americans find their nearest digital literacy training center, including American Job Centers, non-profit providers, and public libraries. A website and toll-free number will direct users to thousands of free training providers. The initiative will be promoted by a nationwide Ad Council campaign on digital literacy, beginning in early 2013.

Digital Learning in the 21st Century

March 8th, 2011 by George Krebs

From Des Moines to Charlottesville school districts across the country are making sure there is a laptop in the hands of every high school student. California’s e-textbook initiative augurs the nationwide rise of digital course materials. Teachers now use web videos to reinforce the quadratic formula or impart a civics lesson. Technology is moving forward. Our classrooms and our curriculum need to catch up.

We’re joining with the New York City Department of Education tomorrow morning for an event on digital learning in the 21st century. We’ll speak on the promise of wireless and present a roundtable on the future of K – 12 education, as America begins to employ digital learning solutions. This includes the adoption of digital textbooks and the possibilities of wireless technology to enhance learning in the classroom. Wednesday’s event will explore both the benefits and the obstacles to this shift. The event will take place tomorrow, March 9 from 10:30am to 12:15pm at the NYC iSchool at 131 6th Avenue, at Dominick Street.

Sharing the stage with Chairman Genachowski at the roundtable is a handful of the nation’s standouts in education, from both the public and private sectors. This includes Sharon Greenberger, COO of the NYC Department of Education; Alisa Berger, Principal of NYC iSchool, our host; Matthew Small, Chief Business Officer at Blackbord; and other luminaries.

There’s no better school to debut this initiative and hold this roundtable than the NYC iSchool. The iSchool, which introduced its first class in September 2008, looks to set the bar for 21st century learning. The innovative high school incorporates cutting edge technology into students’ everyday learning and both its teachers and students make it a central part of their mission to harness these tools. To learn more about the NYC iSchool, check out this video.

Join us. If you’re in the New York City area tomorrow, the event is free and open to the public – though we’d appreciate your pre-registration. Send an email with your name, organization name (if applicable) and phone number to diglearning [at] fcc [dot] gov.

Broadban, Education, and The Learning Registry

February 4th, 2011 by Ellen Satterwhite

This week, a report on teachers’ media usage, sponsored in part by PBS, offers new evidence to support the National Broadband Plan's finding that broadband has greater potential to transform education than any other technological innovation in our lifetime. The report talks about the incredible increases in teachers' use of digital content in their teaching—not just layering technology on top of lessons, but digitally transforming their classrooms. The survey found, for example:

  • Three in four teachers (76%) stream or download TV and video content, up from 55% in 2007. These teachers are also accessing content in completely new ways, with 24% reporting that they access content stored on a local server, up from 11% in 2007. 
  • Teachers view TV and video content as more effective for student learning when integrated with other instructional resources or content. More than two-thirds (67%) believe that digital resources help them differentiate learning for individual students, and a similar number (68%) believe TV and video content stimulates discussion.
In the same survey, however, is some sobering news: Teachers spend 60 percent of their time in the classroom using educational resources that are either free or paid for by teachers themselves. And most teachers cite cost as the number one barrier to using digital resources in the classroom. 
I thought this might be a good time to draw attention to a bright spot on the horizon. The National Broadband Plan proposed that the Department of Education take the lead in setting standards to make the federal government’s extensive cultural and educational resources easily available in one place, in an interoperable format. In response to this recommendation, last summer, Secretary of Education Duncan, the head of the Smithsonian, G. Wayne Clough, and Chairman Genachowski announced an initiative called the Learning Registry. The goal of the Learning Registry is to put a library of free, world-class educational content at the fingertips of every American student and teacher. 
We hope to see more innovation like, a free and open, conversation-based multimedia art history web-book. aggregates our cultural treasures—digitally—but also encourages the learner to engage and analyze in real time, engaging students in a whole new way.
I’m happy to report that the Learning Registry’s project website is now live so that more Americans can get involved with making this vision a reality. The Learning Registry is not just a content portal or a search engine – the project envisions a new way of exchanging and describing learning content.  It's an initiative designed to build a community to benefit learning AND learners. The process is open and transparent – I encourage you to check out what the team is doing, share the news about the Learning Registry, and to get involved with this important initiative.

Opening the Door to E-Rate in Our Communities

September 28th, 2010 by Julia Benincosa

Last week, the FCC created “School Spots” by allowing schools to authorize community use of Internet connections funded by the E-rate after school hours.  Earlier this year, the FCC granted a temporary waiver so that West Virginia and other states could move ahead immediately with community use projects, and our guest blogger Julia Benincosa, who is the West Virginia E-Rate and Instructional Technology Coordinator, writes about how the policy is already helping close the broadband gap in West Virginia.  We’re encouraging other schools who have experimented with this open-door policy to tell us about their experience, which they can do here.

For years, West Virginia was frustrated by restrictions in the E-rate program that kept school computer access cloistered for use solely by teachers, staff and students within the building.  Many opportunities for schools to partner with the community and collaborate with parents to enrich student learning could not be realized due to historical E-rate rules.  Under the previous rules, if "ineligible users" accessed the network, schools were required to allocate the cost to non- E-rate funding sources, which could be a difficult and confusing task. Since no one wanted to jeopardize precious funding during times when budgets were already shrinking, schools opted not to participate.
As more and more educators recognized the benefits that after-hours use of school Internet connections could provide, it became clear that changes were needed to eliminate barriers to broader parental and community involvement.  At the same time, the FCC was making a number of logical and positive improvements in the E-rate program. The supportive atmosphere of the FCC encouraged us make the case for a waiver that would allow more community use of E-rate-funded networks.   With the assistance of our E-rate contacts at the county level, we compiled a list of ways that a more flexible E-Rate program would better meet the educational needs of our communities and students.
Of course, student instruction is always our number one priority.  We made it clear that we were only asking for community use during times when school is not in session...evenings, weekends, holiday breaks and summers.  Since the Internet isn't turned off during those times, it was available and begging to be utilized to help close the broadband gap and meet the broader educational needs of the community.   The WV Department of Education shared its list of helpful community uses at the federal level and soon after, the Community Use Waiver became part of the NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) that was released in the spring of 2010. 

This waiver allows for community members to utilize school networks, at the discretion of the school, without requiring burdensome cost-allocation and without jeopardizing E-rate funding.  While still in its infancy, this waiver has great promise, and the Internet utilization will definitely grow exponentially.  We have seen utilization by the public in Morgantown, West Virginia, where Suzie Martin, a Library Media-Technology Integration Specialist, has her library open after hours and during the summer and works with parents and students in a reading program that utilizes the Internet.  This change has also allowed parental training to occur for distance learning programs that allow students to be educated at home and other state initiatives.

For example, the Acuity and Compass Odyssey programs enables students to continue their instruction from home using the Internet. Without training on how to access these sites, parents would be less likely to participate in the education of their children.

A more visible example occurred during the Upper Big Branch mining disaster.  Since students were on spring break, Raleigh County's Marsh Fork Elementary School became an emergency site for the Governor and (MSHA) Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives.  They met for news conferences and state information was provided to media from around the world for updates and information to chronicle the desperate, 100-hour rescue effort.

Thanks to the FCC's Community Use Waiver, there are new opportunities emerging daily.  There is currently a pilot program developing that will train parents of Preschool students in the use of the World Wide Web for educational, personal and occupational use.

These opportunities highlight how the E-rate program can help to show families the importance of broadband Internet access in the home.  We have reached a time when having Internet access is as vital for families as having a telephone, and are glad the E-rate can now do a better job of helping West Virginia families to take advantage of this great 21st century educational resources.

These opportunities highlight how the E-rate program can help to show families the importance of broadband Internet access.  We have reached a time when having Internet access is as vital for families as having a telephone, and believe that these improvements in E-rate will help families in West Virginia – and across the nation -- take advantage of this great 21st century educational resource.

E-rate Reforms and Back to School Event (with Webcast)

September 20th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

Tomorrow at 12:00PM (9:00AM PT), FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will appear at a public forum in Silicon Valley to discuss E-rate modernization and innovation in education.  The Chairman will also announce the launch of the FCC’s Parents’ Place page.  The public forum is hosted by Common Sense Media, and is about creating digital opportunity for families through innovation in education and by empowering both parents and kids online.

The forum is open to the public and can also be watched live via webcast.  You can also send questions to ask the Chairman and co-panelists via email ( or through Twitter using the hashtag #kidstech.

TITLE:           Back to School: Learning and Growing in a Digital Age

HOSTS:          Hosted by Common Sense Media; co-hosted by PBS, The Children’s Partnership, and the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership & Policy

WHAT:           A public forum for leaders from Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., to discuss the best strategies for bringing technology innovations to our schools -- and other learning settings -- and bringing the benefits of the digital revolution to parents and kids while addressing online risks.

WHEN:           Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010

8:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m (Pacific Time)

WHERE:        Computer History Museum

1401 N. Shoreline Blvd.

Mountain View, CA

AGENDA:      8:15 – 9 a.m.  (Pacific Time)

Interactive Technology Showcase and continental breakfast

9 – 9:20 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Introductory Remarks by James P. Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense Media

Opening Remarks by Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC

9:20 – 10:30 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Panel 1: Innovation in Education

Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Karen Cator, Director of Education Technology, U.S. Dept of Education
Shawn Covell, Vice President, Government Affairs, Qualcomm
Patrick Gaston, President, Verizon Foundation

Murugan Pal, Co-Founder & President, CK-12 Foundation

Moderator: Geoffrey Cowan, Dean Emeritus, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

10:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

Panel 2: Empowering Parents and Kids with Technology

Sara DeWitt, Vice President, PBS KIDS Interactive,
Mandeep Dhillon, CEO and Co-founder, Togetherville
Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer, Facebook

Catherine Teitelbaum, Director of Child Safety and Product Policy, Yahoo!
Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec

Moderator: Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President, The Children’s Partnership

Educate to Innovate

September 13th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign aims to improve the performance of America’s students in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The FCC, building on the President’s call to action, has proposed a series of recommendations in the National Broadband Plan that recognize broadband as an important tool to help educators, parents and students meet major challenges in education, including those in the STEM fields.  The Broadband Plan recognizes that investment in broadband and STEM education will help us lead the world in 21st century educational innovation.

Discovery Communications, as part of the “Educate to Innovate” initiative, has launched a new, commercial-free science education programming block that is airing Monday-Friday (4:00 to 5:00 PM ET/PT) and Saturdays (7:00-9:00 AM ET/PT) on Science Channel.  In place of commercial advertising, Science Channel is running PSAs highlighting notable “cool jobs” in the STEM fields.

Today, the PSA featuring Chairman Julius Genachowski, promoting broadband and STEM education, will premier during the Science Channel’s education block.  View the PSA here:

To further promote the importance of educational innovation, Chairman Genachowski will be the featured speaker and panelist at Back to School Learning and Growing in the Digital Age, a public forum for policymakers and technology industry leaders sponsored by Common Sense Media, PBS, The Children’s Partnership and The Annenberg School of Communication at USC.  The event will also feature an interactive technology showcase of innovative digital learning and parental empowerment tools.  The event is open to the public.

Event details:

Back to School Learning and Growing in the Digital Age 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Computer History Museum
1401 N. Shoreline Boulevard

Mountain View, CA  94043 

8:15 - 9:00 a.m.
Continental breakfast and Tech Showcase
 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Panels and Discussion

Tech Showcase continues until 1:00 pm.

Other confirmed participants include:

·         Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education
·         James P. Steyer, CEO, Common Sense Media
·         Scott McNealy, Founder,, Co-founder, Sun Microsystems
·         Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer, Facebook
·         Catherine Teitelbaum, Director of Child Safety, Communities and Content Policies, Yahoo!
·         Geoffrey Cowan, Dean Emeritus, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
·         Mandeep Dhillon, Co-founder and CEO, Togetherville
To RSVP, Click Here
For more information, contact
For exhibitor information, contact

Your Stories About Broadband Internet Access

April 14th, 2010 by Page Schindler Buchanan

Since the rollout of the National Broadband Plan last month, Americans have shared their stories about broadband in their daily lives. In the end, expanding Broadband access is about improving people’s lives - fostering communities, providing access to services and information, and saving time and money.  

We asked you to share your stories of how access to broadband – and in some cases, the lack of broadband – affects you and your community.  The response has been phenomenal.  On this blog we will be talking more about your experiences, and how broadband innovation will make a difference for Americans and their families.  Here is just a sample of what you’ve shared with us so far.

Daniel in Sebastian, Florida

We offer essential services -- employment opportunities, applications for government assistance such as unemployment benefits and food stamps, and online interactions with educational institutions. Here at the Indian River County Library System … an ever-increasing number of patrons are filling our public computing sections to overflow. We want to add more computers. But we don't have sufficient bandwidth to handle the extra load. And with the severe budget cuts we've endured, we don't the funds to pay for it.

Stephen in Marietta, Georgia
Non-traditional College Student

Without broadband I would not have been able to easily and effectively continue my Bachelor of Science degree while working full-time.

Richard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Volunteer First Responder

I am a trained volunteer weather spotter for the NWS in the Milwaukee area, a First Responder trained by the CERT program, and an instructor in Emergency Communications for the American Radio Relay League.

As a first responder, having reliable wireless data communications is necessary when responding to an event and a large amount of data has to be moved or information garnered about the area and what is being dealt with. This could also involve sending pictures, text, information files, etc., by wireless. My current provider, -----, from my experiences, would not have a wireless system that could be reliable enough for First Responder needs in the field.

Jason in Guthrie, Oklahoma
Local Football Fan

We stream our Oklahoma Metro Football League over the internet live.

Frank in Eatonville, Washington

The only internet access available in our area is dial-up. The dial-up connection is a horrible 28.8Kbps. My company offers telecommuting but I can't work from home with such slow speeds. It's too bad because I have to drive almost 40 miles to work. Rural customers like me need an affordable broadband solution. It's like we're living in the stone age out here.

Carol in Reading, Vermont
Rural Doctor

As a surgeon, I need to watch surgical videos to learn new techniques and get my continuing medical education credits. I CANNOT DO THIS IN MY OWN HOME. … it is the lack of highspeed that hinders me professionally and may cause me to move back to civilization, depriving my rural neighborhood of a highly qualified doctor. My husband is a consultant and loses credibility because he cannot access information quickly during conference calls. Please help us.

Please keep sending us your stories.  We’ll continue to share your thoughts about the National Broadband Plan as we work to ensure broadband access for all Americans.

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.

Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones