Wireless.. Will it Help Us Solve the Digital Divide?

Wither Wireless… are you informed?

There is an underlying, fundamental reliance on the Internet, which continues to grow in the number of users, country penetration and both fixed and wireless broadband access.
Vinton Cerf



Quite a conference. It featured  some outstanding ways of communicating within a conference and there was a stellar array of presenters.  The United States has an opportunity to reform education in a way that will truly prepare our students to compete in the global economy. Mobile technology has a critical role to play in this effort by equipping students and teachers with 24/7 access to learning communities and information. We went to this conference to learn, to teach, to be informed and to network. The organizers did a wonderful job.


THere were three tiers of engagement, You can see this here.The conference was designed to break through existing barriers and coordinate across a diverse group of stakeholders including leaders in business, K-12, higher education and government. It is the first conference to focus on major issues in research, practice and policy that must be resolved to realize the full potential of mobile broadband for learning. For more information and to view the Program Guide, please visit the agenda page.  The conference even invited teachers and a student to present to be a part of the conference in outreach.


The videos here are available to show you the videos we were informed by.



I particularly like this one;


The one about students use smartphones in the classroom because Julius Genachowski, the FCC Chairman keeps telling us that we can solve the digital divide problem by use of mobile technology. He attended the conference and was interviewed as a part of the conference.

There were three tracks and you can see the richness of the conference here, Education was one track, Policy another and then there was the technology track. I especially liked the way that CoSn helped to inform the policy for this group.


There are some magic things about this conference. There is no cost. This is not a big box conference with bells and whistles and things you have to go to the exhibit hall to sign up for , or workshops you have to fight to get in. YOu sign up as a part of registration , but you can attend out of the track that you sign up for.

They also offer you the research that supports the conference , and people who are active in research as the participants. You may recognize some of the names, Tom Carroll, Chris Dede( who actually creates the conference) and Julie of Speak Up. Here is one of the Speak Up sets of research.


Speak Up


2010 Wireless Research

Mobile Learning for the 21st Century: Insights from the 2010 Wireless EdTech Conference.http://wirelessedtech.com/resources/edtech-research-paper/

You have to enter your email to get this paper. The new paper from this conference will be on the site by January. and the good news is that you get updates and email regarding wireless , so you will be informed when the conference is next year. It’s a short conference, and they are planning some virtual involvement.


Highlights of the conference for me are always the presentations of Dr. Chris Dede.

This year the Digital Promise Initiative was introduced to use by Shirley Malcom and  James Shelton of the US Department of Education. That piece speaks for teachers.


I was amused by the Superintendent’s section. Most of them were doing a commercial about how great their school system is . I loved it that the Superintendent from Fairfax acknowledged the problems with No Child Left Behind as a fact. The others ,were a little vague about their wireless use except for the Superintendent from North Carolina.

She also was upfront about the problems of rural, diverse communities and she shared the way in which wireless was used in her system.  Well , next time we ask them to define how mobile devices are used in their system. How about that?

So here is a little about Digital Promise. 

For more information, go to: www.digitalpromise.org.

To realize the potential of learning technology, Digital Promise will work with leading educators, researchers, technology firms, and entrepreneurs on three key challenges:

  • Identifying breakthrough technologies. For years, researchers have been working on developing educational software that is as effective as a personal tutor.  Preliminary results from a DARPA/Navy “digital tutor” project suggest that we can reduce the time required to become an expert in IT from years to months.  Achieving similar results in subjects such as math would transform K-12 education.  Digital Promise will begin its work by partnering with technology firms and researchers to map the R&D landscape,identifying opportunities for breakthroughs in learning from the cradle through a career.
  • Learning faster what’s working and what’s not. Internet startups do rapid evaluations of their sites, running test after test to continually improve their services. When it comes to education, R&D cycles can take years, producing results that are out of date the minute they’re released.  Digital Promise will work with researchers and entrepreneurs to develop new approaches for rapidly evaluating new products.
  •  Transforming the market for learning technologies. With more than 14,000 school districts and outdated procurement systems, it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to break into the market and it’s also tough to prove that their products can deliver meaningful results.  Meanwhile, the amount we invest in R&D in K-12 education is estimated at just 0.2% of total spending on K-12 education, compared to 10-20% of revenues spent on R&D in many knowledge-intensive industries such as software development and biotech.   Digital Promise will work with school districts to create “smart demand” that drives private-sector investment in innovation.

Other Initiatives Being Announced with the Launch of Digital Promise

Creating a League of Innovative Schools:In partnership with Digital Promise, leading schools, school districts, and networks such as the District of Columbia Public Schools; Mooresville Graded School District, North Carolina; High Tech High in San Diego, California; York County School Division, Virginia; E.L. Haynes in Washington, DC; Malden High School, Malden, Massachusetts; and the New Tech High Network, are coming together to launch a League of Innovative Schools. The League will be a coalition of schools dedicated to innovation in learning technologies and significant improvements in educational outcomes. The League will explore key steps it can take to help the learning technology market, including:

  • Rapid testing of promising new technologies.Internet companies like Netflix and Amazon don’t make decisions on the basis of hunches.  They use rapid, low-cost experimentation to continually improve their products.  Similar opportunities exist for learning technologies. Schools with the flexibility to try new things and the data systems to capture the results offer opportunities for trials, both identifying what works and doing rapid prototyping to refine new tools. Working together, these schools can accelerate the pace of learning and innovation.
  • Creating a buyers’ consortium to demand better prices and higher quality.New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine formed a consortium called the New England Common Assessment Program to buy testing materials together, getting a higher quality product at a lower cost.  Members of the League can band together to improve their purchasing power for emerging solutions.
  • Encouraging entrepreneurs to develop game-changing innovations by promising to buy them.By using what’s called an “Advance Market Commitment,” five countries and the Gates Foundation agreed to purchase large quantities of a vaccine that hadn’t been developed yet – a vaccine to immunize kids in developing countries against diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. The private sector responded, and today that vaccine is on the market and could help save the lives of 7 million children by 2030. Similarly, a consortium of schools and school districts could encourage entrepreneurs to develop new solutions that deliver dramatic improvements in student learning outcomes.

New Investments by NSF on Cyber-learning:  In support of the Administration’s initiative, the National Science Foundation will announce $15 million in new awards to support research that is developing next-generation learning environments.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

“A Teacher’s Essential Guide to Engaging in STEM Learning: Practice-Proven Projects and Programs.”

Community Outreach to Girls, at a Special Conference in Washington DC

In the nation's capitol, there was held a conference to share workforce ideas with girls

This is going to be an e-book. I am sharing the chapters as I develop them hoping for feedback and enrichment from interested others.

.Bonnie Bracey Sutton, Teacher Agent of Change

This is a difficult time for teachers , there is a ground swell for STEM , transformational teaching and new practices in all teaching involving media in the United States. There have been more than 22 major meetings to address the STEM problem the most important meeting being the:

The Convocation on Rising Above the Gathering Storm

National Academies Press, 2007  ( nothing much has happened in spite of this)

This  NASbook is on line free of charge for online use

In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode. A comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness and pre-eminence in these areas. This congressionally requested report by a pre-eminent committee makes four recommendations along with 20 implementation actions that federal policy makers should take to create high-quality jobs and focus new science and technology efforts on meeting the nation’s needs, especially in the area of clean, affordable energy: 1) increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education.

  1. )Sustain and strengthen the nation’s commitment to long-term basic research.3) Develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the United States and abroad. 4) Ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world for innovation. Some actions will involve changing existing laws, while others will require financial support that would come from reallocating existing budgets or increasing them. Rising Above the Gathering Storm will be of great interest to federal and state government agencies, educators and schools, public decision makers, research sponsors, regulatory analysts, and scholars.

More »

Norman R. Augustine, Chair of the “Committee on Prospering the Global Economy of the 21st Century” that produced the influential 2005 National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, met with members of the NSB Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics during their first meeting, August 3 – 4, 2006.

http://www.pkal.org/documents/RAGSConvocation.cfm source

This is a difficult time for school systems, funds are limited, resources are stretched and professional development needs a recharge, a transformation.There is not a depth of knowledge about STEM at grass roots.

Online, teachers are still asking me what is STEM? The reason for transformational change has not gotten to the grass roots level. We know that everyone is not online. I also know that STEAM is the attempt to infuse the arts into STEM. I am a DaVinci teacher, always have and that is another chapter coming up. For those who cannot wait, go to the Exploratorium site. 

Most of the meetings did not involve teachers, but rather cast the blame on teachers. Many teachers are working in a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” and the gating caused by NCLB.

. This discussion will give credence to the search for change, provide referenced research and case studies of good practices, and new resources. It is a loving guide to what works. Teachers can help save our schools and help enrich the community by involving citizens in the transformational change.

Computers and “connected” mobile devices may be ubiquitous, but there are still many people who do not know how to turn on a laptop, create an email account or open Internet Explorer, says Stuart Freiman, director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation’s Broadband Rhode Island project.

Some children own the tools to transform their thinking and learning.

The notion of the digital divide truly exists,” said Freiman, who estimates 30 to 35 percent of Americans do not use the Internet. “As we move into the 21st century, that’s going to be more and more important in every aspect of our lives: access to health care, the government and public-safety issues.” Teachers know what reseachers get paid big money to find out. Many learning communities are not connected .Sadly the groups that used to be teacher advocacy groups are turning commercial and becoming a part that widens the digital divide.

We have a lot of people who are NOT connected in communities. Here is a state model that was developed to help people in Iowa understand the problem.

 SHIFT HAPPENS – a media presentation A State Model

Here is an application of those ideas toward state policies.

Iowa, Did You Know?8/4/2011Once again XPLANE | Dachis Group has teamed up with Dr. Scott McLeod of Iowa State University to create a thought-provoking video. The brand-new “Iowa, Did You Know …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1JyLYphevc

Research is a component of this work, citations, case studies urls, and references will be a part of the last chapter for reference, grant writing, ideas that teachers use to prepare presentations.

These teachers, and administrators can share with school boards, and invite the community to help them with STEM..The ideas are important because many teachers are without broadband and cannot search fully for the resources they need. The work that is being shared has been vetted by teacher national organizations or the National Academy of Sciences. Most of the many, many papers, books and research ideas are not about practice.

There is a lack of known resources or knowledgenetworks,for many US teachers based on budget difficulties , and there are teachers who have little or no professional development in how to effectively use new media. Much of the instruction for the use of new media is online and those who are uncomfortable, cannot rely on the sources to give them the help they need for academic reasons. The lack of online content access for low-income and underserved American’s is one of the digital divide’s frontiers. 

Prior Resource

The resources in this chapter are the kind of support, help and sharing that Marc Prensky talked about in his recent book. He did the hard work of helping teachers organize their practices to prepare for change..He created a wonderful road map to getting to the nuts and bolts of what kinds of essential changes, behavior modification and partnering that can happen to provide transformational learning.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/16594116/Marc-Prenskys-Essential-Skills-for-the-21st-Century. There are some initiatives widely scattered around the Internet.

There are about 19 documents on various subjects that are on line at the National Academy of Sciences

    STEM Education Innovation & America’s Economic Success

Depend on the awareness of the problem, change and creating connectedideas in learning communities

Important Ingredients to Come

  • Engaging and Broadening Engagement in STEM for Underserved and underexposed populations
  • Successful Models for Innovating Change in STEM Education
  • A First Look at the New Science Education Framework
  • A look at Common Core Standards and their significance
  • Educational Organizations and Connected Communities
  • Workforce Readiness,Career Pathways

Legislation Introduced to Fund Nontraditional STEM Programs

Congress is currently considering legislation that would provide funding for nontraditional programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. The Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program is intended to broaden student access and interest in STEM careers in order to grow the pipeline for a globally competitive workforce. We must demystify the STEM problem.

The initiative would provide competitive grants to districts and high schools, giving priority to rural, urban, and low-performing schools, or those that serve low income students. The Innovation Inspiration School grants would fund nontraditional STEM programs, like robotics, in high schools. Districts would be required to partner with the private sector for 50% matching funds and to recruit STEM mentors to serve as role models.

The bill, H.R. 2247, was recently introduced in the House by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rep. James Langevin (D-RI)For more than four years now the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, originally passed by the Johnson administration in 1965, has been overdue for congressional reauthorization. That’s due in no small part to provisions in the act’s latest incarnation, 2001’s much-maligned No Child Left Behind act.

No Child Left Behind is still with us.(since President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that he would begin allowing states to individually opt out of some of NCLB’s requirements, more than half of U.S. states have taken the offer, with 27 now either in the process or strongly pushing for such an opt out.)

It’s Everyone’s Job to be a “Job Creator”

I am tired of hearing about jobs programs and job creators. There is something in these terms that implies that there is a small, elite group of people who serve as the job creators, while everyone else prepares for and competes to work for these people and their jobs. In my opinion, that is a deeply flawed view of what makes the American economy great. America became great because everyone has the potential to be a job creator. What we are doing in our Tracy Learning Center (TLC) program is creating a new generation of job creators, not just workers. But frequently, when I tell people about what a great impact the TLC program is having on its students, people look at just their academic performance numbers to validate my claim. Our students do very well academically, but that is only a small part of the overall impact of the program.

To use an analogy; life is like building a house. TLC provides an education that prepares the person to be able to build the whole house, and even be the developer who builds the community. A traditional school focuses only on teaching students how to drive a nail. Clearly our students will be able to drive a nail, and remarkably, they will do it very well. So, if getting a job means being able to drive a nail, we’re good. But we’re much more than good.

Students in our program are taught how to get a job. But they are also taught how to start a company. The career program includes a unit where they work in small teams and have to take an idea and build a business around it. In other courses, TLC students work in small teams solving problems. Tis model of learning ensures that they master the traditional academic content, but it also does much more than that. As a result of their team problem-solving approach, the students learn a broad assortment of high performance skills such as teamwork, communications, problem-solving, researching, creativity, responsibility, reliability, innovation, planning, etc. Our program gives students the confidence and skills to create their own jobs, and potentially jobs for other as well. Every student coming out of school has to feel like he or she is a job creator, not just a worker. The TLC model does that very well.

On one of my trips to the school, I happened to be there on the same day that one of their graduates had chosen to return and thank the school for what it had done for him. He had transferred to the TLC as a high school student because he was having all kinds of problems in his old school – not just academically, but behaviorally and even problems with substance abuse (possibly including dealing drugs to other students). He had come back to the school that day to thank the teachers for not giving up on him and to tell the next generation of students to listen to the teachers because they care and they are right.

A couple of years earlier, he was coming to the end of his senior year and because he lacked the credits to earn a diploma was not going to graduate. As a result of the work with his teachers at the TLC, he realized how important getting the diploma was, so he asked for permission to spend another semester at the school to earn the diploma. Permission was granted, and he did earn it. He worked with the teachers and counselors, wrote letters, and got scholarships that allowed him to attend a local vocational school to learn the HVAC trades. He now has a job in the field, is seeking additional scholarships to further his education, and is already planning to start his own business. All of this success was directly related to the program and teachers at the TLC.

At the other end of the spectrum, I should also mention the story of the young female student who earned her associates degree at the local college while attending the TLC and then enrolled at UC Berkeley as a junior the fall following her high school graduation.

These are just two examples. If you take the time to sit down and talk with virtually any student at the school, you will hear some variation of these stories. The program reaches every student in some individual way. It gives them the knowledge and skills to be successful. But more importantly, it gives them the self-confidence to try.

All Things Considered , A Digital Promise for an Education Nation, Broadband Please!!

The White House and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan  launched “Digital Promise” this Friday at 10 a.m. “Digital Promise” is a new national center created by Congress to advance breakthrough technologies that can hopefully  transform teaching and learning. I will gently say that without broadband for all. The Promise is yet to come in a meaningful way. But it is a  great start. Here was a start that was initiated by the NEA. after the death of Christa McAuliffe, in 1992 where we discussed some of these ideas how wonderful to find that in the crucible of ideas that can cooked up that many of the ideas have come to fruition. I am excited that Shirley Malcom is a part of this initiative..

This initiative was also discussed around the table at the George Lucas Educational Foundation

Bonnie Bracey , Chris Dede, Seymour Papert at NEA , NFIE workshop for digital equity

The beginnings of ideas to vault the digital divide

At the end of NIAC the ideas were started , creating the possibility of this project. many long years later Founded after more than a decade of effort, including a 2004 report to Congress, Digital Promise has been endorsed by virtually every major national association of educators and educational institutions, libraries, and museums. The project that gave rise to Digital Promise was launched by the Carnegie, Century, Knight, MacArthur, and Open Society foundations, sustained by the Federation of American Scientists, and championed by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, civic and business leaders, who came together on its behalf so that the dream of a greenhouse, a place to share ideas and promising practices finally is established, online, instead of in regional centers, and or demonstration projects that are geographically based.

GPS, GIS comes to urban students in a neighborhood setting

ESRI , and National Geographic provide resources for all.

This has been a work in progress.  For the Digital Promise Project, The George Lucas Educational Foundation has produced a short videoto share the potential of new technologies in learning for schools, universities, and the workplace. Digital Promise is a project advocating the establishment of a major federally funded educational trust fund to support the use of digital technologies, especially the Internet, to transform education, training, and lifelong learning.

Being involved in transformational education through NASA

We never mentioned the word Supercomputing, we just did it.

The focus in education for the last couple of weeks has been all STEM and all about Digital Promises

 No Child Left Behind has Left the Building, Following the path of  Little Red Schoolhouse 

As No Child Left Behind is being escorted out of the building of the Dept of Education, Common  Core, new ways of assessment are being escorted in , and there is a sea change in that we can now acknowledge STEM/. The Brookings Institute held an exciting meeting,

 At the meeting, the Department of Commerce shared the last of the three reports
Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM. that report is one of three.

Experts in all fields discussed promising practices and then accepted querys and questions from the audience.

Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) are said to be fundamental aspects of everyone’s lives as citizens, consumers, parents, and workers. Here is a infographic to help visualize the ideas.

Providing all students with access to high-quality education in STEM is important to their futures and that of the U.S. What can schools do to meet this goal for their students?

How about realizing the problem of Broadband for all.? We have a National Broadband Plan.You can learn more about it here.

There is more, but I am a teacher , semi technology literate. So look down the site and see things like windrider.  See other technology applications here. http://www.measurementlab.net/resources

You can see if your community is broadband ready  here.

If you are an activist and you want to check your connections and contribute to data, you may want to involve yourself in the M-Lab Project.  When you take a first look it looks like a site only for researchers.M-Lab.

It will be helpful to you if you use the site to test your Internet connection. Do it here. It is easy.

There are explanations, so you will know that your privacy is not compromised.

Here are the tests.

Network diagnostic tool

Test your connection speed and receive sophisticated diagnosis of problems limiting speed.

Glasnost test

Test whether certain applications or traffic are being blocked or throttled on your broadband connection.

Network path & application diagnostics

Diagnose common problems that impact last-mile broadband networks.

Bandwidth test

See how much bandwidth your connection provides

Traffic shaping test

Determine whether an ISP is performing traffic shaping.

Bismark Gateway

Apply to host a router device to test Internet connectivity over time.

Mobile traffic test

Detect whether your mobile broadband provider is performing application or service specific differentiation.