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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBM7_zuSnPU&list=PL9F5548C8144B8…!

 

I particularly like this one;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxDHataguRE&feature=related

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.

http://wirelessedtech.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/EdTech2011_Pro…

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

http://wirelessedtech.com/wp-content/uploads/Taking-It-Mobile-Repor…

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

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