Policy Makers
Policy Recommendations for Broadband and Education
Disabilities
The following policy recommendations, which stem from a paper authored by the Advanced Communications Policy at New York Law School for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, titled The Impact of Broadband on Education, outline a framework designed to spur more robust adoption and use of broadband by teachers, school administrators, parents, and students in schools across the continuum of education in the United States. These recommendations are offered to policymakers at all levels of government as they consider policies that will positively impact the broadband market generally and the use of broadband in the U.S. education system specifically.

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Policy Recommendation 1

Address cost issues related to adoption and usage of broadband for educational purposes through a combination of public-private partnerships, targeted funding, and reform of the federal E-rate program.

Educational institutions, teachers, parents, and students face financial barriers that prevent many Americans from accessing transformative broadband-enabled education technologies. Policymakers can help address this issue by supporting public-private initiatives that promote broadband adoption and use in school and at home. They can also support federal policymakers in more efficiently and effectively allocating federal funding in order to ensure that funds are strategically and smartly assigned. Doing so will speed the deployment and adoption of cutting-edge educational technologies. Finally, policymakers at every level must support the modernization of the federal E-Rate program by increasing funding, streamlining the application process, and ensuring that all schools, regardless of location, are eligible to receive funding.

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Policy Recommendation 2

Address the lack of computers in schools through the support of public-private partnerships and other unique collaborations.

Policymakers should support efforts to increase computer access in school, in the home and wherever else learning occurs. Efforts like one-to-one (1:1) laptop initiatives have been successful, but are expensive to launch and sustain. However, creative approaches like public-private partnerships can help to make these and other initiatives more realistic options for more schools. Policymakers at every level should encourage these programs by supporting schools and organizations dedicated to incorporating educational technology.

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Policy Recommendation 3

Develop and implement a multifaceted strategy for supporting the development of 21st century digital literacy skills across the continuum of education.

A significant number of students of all ages in the U.S. do not possess the technology skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. As such, policymakers should work together to establish digital literacy as a national priority. Working together with educators, experts, nonprofits, and others, stakeholders in the education space could incorporate critical digital literacy skills into national education standards. In addition, these stakeholders could work together to target funding to expand programs that have proven to be effective in honing these skills and identify best practices that successfully promote digital literacy.

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Policy Recommendation 4

Provide adequate professional development resources and support for educators in order to facilitate greater integration of technology.

Policymakers and education administrators should support incentives that help to speed the integration of broadband-enabled educational technologies into curricula. This will ensure that educators are aware of the benefits of educational technology and feel comfortable incorporating it into their lesson plans. Training efforts should focus on more than using these tools to streamline administrative tasks they must also center on using them for instructional purposes.

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Policy Recommendation 5

Support efforts to identify and promulgate proven outcomes and best practices associated with using broadband-enabled technologies in schools in order to spur additional adoption in schools and at home.

Policymakers should support initiatives that will provide valuable information regarding proven outcomes, benefits, and best practices associated with using broadband-enabled educational technologies. One possible initiative would be to devise a systematic way of processing, cataloguing, and highlighting important data sets, observations, and conclusions embedded in the vast array of research documents that are released each year. Policymakers could also sponsor targeted research on discrete issues, such as the educational benefits of social media.

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Policy Recommendation 6

Encourage ongoing collaborations among stakeholders that seek to spur adoption and utilization of broadband and broadband-enabled technologies for educational purposes.

Going forward, policymakers should continue to support efforts for increasing adoption and use of broadband and broadband-enabled educational technologies among educators, administrators, parents, and students of all ages. Public-private partnerships focused on bolstering broadband adoption among specific user groups (e.g., minorities, people with disabilities, etc.) are especially valuable in helping to bring more people online.

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Policy Recommendation 7

Pursue a multifaceted approach to enhance online educational content

Policymakers and other stakeholders should promote a comprehensive approach to enhancing online educational content via wide-scale initiatives that will create ready-to-use and customizable resources. This includes pursuing a comprehensive library of digital textbooks and other materials. Quality online educational content could also flow from a wider embrace of free and open course materials currently available on the Web.

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Policy Recommendation 8

Support the nation's pro-investment policy framework for broadband in order to encourage continued innovation at the network level and across the educational technology sector.

Policymakers should uphold current pro-investment and pro-competition policies related to broadband networks. Doing so will promote organic innovation across every sector, including the education technology sector.

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