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Chairman Genachowski's Prepared Remarks at Digital Textbook Workshop

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Released: March 29, 2012




MARCH 29, 2012

This meeting presents a unique opportunity, because we have gathered senior leaders
from the different parts of the digital textbook ecosystem: traditional publishers,
platform developers, device manufacturers, connectivity providers – both in-school and
mobile, and educators.
Today we want to focus on two things.
First, the opportunities of digital textbooks.
And second, the challenges to universal digital textbooks, many of which have been
identified on our agenda: affordability, content, interoperability, connectivity,
technology, and state policies. We know there are other challenges not on the agenda
such as accessibility for students with disabilities.
Now is the perfect time for this diverse group to have this discussion about overcoming
these challenges and seizing the opportunities of digital textbooks.
Earlier this month, the man sitting to my side, TPG Capital CEO Jim Coulter, along with
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Common Sense Media founder and CEO
Jim Steyer, and former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, announced the
formation of the LEAD Commission. This expert panel was established to identify
opportunities where technology can drive improved educational performance and develop
a blueprint for action, which will be released this November.
In a few minutes, you will see a presentation from Jim on how transitioning to digital
textbooks is a key focus of the LEAD Commission. The Commission will be drilling
much deeper into this issue, and Secretary Duncan and I will be looking to LEAD’s work
I’m so pleased that the FCC is hosting this important discussion.
This is not the first time the Commission has convened industry leaders to discuss
harnessing the power of communications technology to benefit the American people.
And it’s not the first time the Commission has promoted improvements in education
through technology.
Reed Hundt is here. Thanks in large part to his vision, the FCC has been working since
the early days of the commercial Internet to bring the benefits of online learning to
America’s schools.
Our E-Rate program – established under Reed’s leadership in the 1990s – has helped
connect almost every classroom in America to the Internet.

Today, the FCC is focused on broadband and seizing the opportunities of high-speed
connectivity to grow our economy, unleash innovation, and tackle challenges like
We’ve modernized our E-Rate program for the broadband era, enabling us to begin
seizing the opportunities of mobile connectivity.
And we’re moving forward on other initiatives as well, one of which is obviously our
Digital Textbook Collaborative with the Department of Education.
Other nations like South Korea and Turkey are racing to seize the opportunities of digital
We need to step up our efforts to realize the promise of this new technology in the U.S.
That's why Secretary Duncan and I challenged states and industry to drive national
adoption of digital textbooks in the next five years and why we are here today.
We want to come out of today’s meeting with a couple of things:
One, a boost to the LEAD Commission’s important work – so that it can in the near
future take steps that will make a material positive difference in moving digital textbooks
from idea to reality. The LEAD Commission filling a real need. Secretary Duncan and I
looking forward to supporting its efforts and incorporating its work.
And two, accelerated discussions among stakeholders, including the stakeholders in this
room – with a goal to having classroom-ready products to describe by the time kids go
back-to school.
Again, thank you all for participating. I look forward to today’s discussion and working
in partnership with you in the days ahead.

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