Posted May 24th, 2011 by Mignon Clyburn - FCC Commissioner
Last week I was in
For broadband to be truly available to consumers, we have to consider more than their physical access to it. We also must take into account their ability to adopt it. We know that of the 1/3 of Americans who haven’t adopted broadband, most haven’t done so because of the costs involved. For these consumers, they must rely on Internet access at their jobs, local libraries, schools, and family and friends’ homes. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Charles B. Washington Branch of the Omaha Public Library to see how this neighborhood anchor is meeting the high-speed Internet needs of the local community. There are terminals all throughout the library. The children’s section has computers. There are two computer areas for adults and another area just for teens. A recipient of BTOP funds, the library will be expanding its access to more computers for citizens, as the demand is very high. This isn’t surprising, of course, because we know that high-speed Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Without it, citizens are disadvantaged in finding a job and communicating. I saw first-hand the benefits of Internet access—the Internet research, commerce, and communicating that the citizens of
In addition to providing access to computers and high-speed Internet, the library also offers computer classes to help teach citizens the basics of computer use. This is important because many who have not adopted broadband say they haven’t done so because they don’t know how to use computers. Librarians have responded to the need for education, and they have become the digital literacy navigators in our local communities. The librarians I visited with described the citizens who are thrilled to learn the skills they need to send an e-mail, research a health issue, and use Facebook to keep up with their grandchildren.
After touring the library, I had the pleasure of joining Congressman Terry and Commissioner Copps to talk with the local citizens and other Nebraskans about the barriers to adoption and the various efforts underway to address the ability of citizens to purchase and use broadband. We heard a lot about the need for broadband for distance learning in
The other top reason consumers cite for not adopting broadband is that the Internet isn’t relevant to them, but I believe that we will witness fewer people concluding that as we see more and richer content made available on-line. For example, while in
Hats off to the City of Omaha, the Suttle administration, and MindMixer on the launch of this incredible website, and for providing a user friendly platform for innovative, civic engagement.
Posted May 11th, 2011 by Mignon Clyburn - FCC Commissioner
I recently visited Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia where President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and other government officials visited this past March. There they lauded the extraordinary progress the middle school has made by leveraging advanced technology. The President discussed his initiative to reform the current “No Child Left Behind” system, by noting how important it is for our Nation to invest in innovative ways to keep those students fully engaged in the classroom. After reviewing the President’s remarks, I wanted to see the school for myself.
Kenmore is an Arts and Communications Technology Focus school. The Principal, Dr. John Word, believes that his 720 students perform better when they are excited about school. Children are already enthusiastic about the arts and advanced technology, so the faculty and staff encourage their existing interests by finding innovative ways to integrate the technology into the core curriculum. Each year, Kenmore picks an artist to be the center of study, and the students learn about the different facets of that artist’s life. This year, they are learning about jazz musician Duke Ellington and they are using their on campus media production studios to create a photo story tribute to his life and his work.
The teachers have also found ways to integrate advanced communications technology into more traditional classes. This has brought excitement back to teaching and learning, says Dr. Word. Students are more engaged and focused, he hears from the educators, and teacher retention is up because of the enhanced engagement. For example, one teacher blends broadband with his technology education class and social studies. The students use a computer assisted design programs to create, develop, and mass produce a game as if they worked in a factory as discussed in class with their social studies teacher. In another classroom, I was able to witness an autistic student using an iPad to better communicate with his teacher. Instead of using the blackboards I got to know all too well when I attended middle school, Kenmore equips each class with interactive SMART Boards. These whiteboards use touch detection for user input - e.g., scrolling, right mouse-click - in the same way normal PC input devices detect input. And in another setting, students from Kenmore interact with two other schools to learn a foreign language from an instructor in other nation.
Another key player in
Mr. Goodman also talked to me about how Dr. Word and he overcame funding challenges by finding resources outside of their school district. Most
I was unable to spend as much time as I would have liked at Kenmore Middle School, but my short visit left me with great excitement. This school is an excellent example how effective use of broadband, and other advanced technologies, can improve educational outcomes for all of our children, regardless of their abilities and unique needs. I look forward to returning to Kenmore to see how the school evolves as technologies continue to develop.