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Blog Posts by Trent Harkrader

From the Wall to the Desk: Facilitating 21st Century Digital Learning

by Trent Harkrader, Associate Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau
February 20, 2014 - 04:34 PM

In his recent Digital Learning Day speech, Chairman Wheeler emphasized the tremendous potential of digital learning for America’s students and teachers.  Among the reasons for the revolution going on in teaching and learning, the Chairman highlighted two transformative technological changes:  “First, inexpensive tablets turn the computer from something in the corner of the classroom (or in the computer lab down the hall), to something on each student’s desk.  Second, Wi-Fi means connecting to the Internet is no longer a function of being close enough to the plug on the wall.”

As numerous commenters have pointed out, these changes mean that as the FCC modernizes the E-rate program, we have to be thinking about getting high speed connectivity all the way to students’ desks and to open library work spaces, not just to the school or library door.  Today, a host of services -- including legacy services like long distance calling and paging -- are categorized as “priority one” services and funded before any money goes to high speed Wi-Fi in classrooms and libraries.  As a result, the existing E-rate program has been increasingly unable to meet the need for Wi-Fi funding. 

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