Educational CyberPlayGround ®

History and the Future ( A perspective on why we need change!)


A $73 million spending spree Atlanta schools overpaid for a lavish computer network that costs taxpayers millions more to run.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 05/22/04

I hear a lot of guessing about what the intent was of universal service and E rate. From a group of educators, representatives of national professional educators, and trade associations , this was our intent.

As a member of the NII Advisory Council, and also a Member of the National Coordinating Committe on Technology in Education and Training( NCC-TET) we decided to create a small document that outlined the requirements for education and training.

Many of you in the discussion today, do not know this history and a lot of people have forgotten this document.(1994)I have an original copy of it.

Tonight I will share the access requirements we discussed to give background about this and add a few questions and update the kinds of technology we were talking about , and some changes suggested.

This was a position paper that we had, it was a consensus of opinions held by representatives of national professional education, training and trade associations paraticipating in the NCC-TET collaborations . We checked our party memberships at the door. We were looking to create a way to share with the general public what the ideas were in the three areas:

Access requirements, education and training applications required and technical requirements.
Access Requirements -So here is an executive summary of what was intended.
Ensure that all Americans have affordable access to the NII.
Ensure that the NII is accessible in a variety of learning environments.

Develop a variety of sustained public and private partnerships and funding mechanisms to support education and training uses of the NII.

Make public and private information resources available to schools, instutions of higher education , training institutions, libraries and arts and cultural institutions.

Requirement 1. Ensure that all American have affordable access to the NII


Accessing the best and most recent information to do a job or perform a task must become a cultural norm by the end of the century. It is especially critical that schools develop this capacity.

" When it comes to ensuring universal service, our schools are the most impoverished institutions in society." VP Gore.

Almost 90 percent of K-12 classrooms lack even basic access to telephone service ( Princeton Survey Research Associates 1993).

When classrooms do have phone lines, schools are typically charged at the corporate rate for telephone service. Schools have not been the beneficiaries of the universal service policies that resulted in the delivery of basic services at affordable rates for most American homes.

An Interim goal of providing at LEAST one connection to every school building and educational site in the nation can be achieved almost immediately. The goal of connected every home and classroom to the NII should be set for the year 2000. Populations ( e.g. Rural and poor populations ) which have traditionally been underserved must have special attention paid to them with respect to both network access and information resources relevant to their


In 1994, we did not include wireless in the prescription for the infrastructure . Most of the work that I know about was done by Dave Hughes , who was supported by the National Science Foundation and was started and finished after this initial document was done. School systems applying for the Erate, may need the ability to use wireless for a variety of reasons.

It seems to me that we have reach the goal of a wire somewhere in the school in most schools in the US, but I do not think that people should assume that every classroom everywhere is wired. President Bush says, " Leave no child behind!" I am sure that he and the FCC are concerned about our nation's children.

What about Wireless?

We need to include wireless applications in the E-rate.

We all have a better knowledge of this type of use, and the FCC should convene a study group which involves a knowledgenetwork of people to take a look at what is there, to give educators more information on wireless, and to create suggestions to send forward to the FCC. Some of the monies that have not been used could be used to convene a group of knowledgenetwork people to guide those of us who are new learners to the use of wireless in education, community centers, and other educational places.

Grid on the Go
How will science and commerce change as computing and communications become ubiquitous? Join the nation's leading minds from the public and private sector as they explore the research challenges ahead at the "Grid on the Go" conference.

The Grid on the Go workshop was focused on the uses of wireless devices (portable digital assistants (pdas), cell phones, sensors) and their intersection with digital infrastructure (the Grid) research. Nationally renowned speakers discussed the impact of these devices on academic scientific research and the private sector while highlighting technical and policy challenges.

The FCC is the hardest of all government institutions to communicate with based on the complexity of the spectrum discussion. Most regular people do not understand the new push to wireless , even as the public uses more and more wireless communication in many ways. I believe there should be some outreach and education from people who can deliver a message that the general public understands. We don't want to find that we have lost spectrum without
knowing what we HAD access to.
We have a concern about the spectrum that could be lost to educators . I believe that the public has a right to know what we, as educators may lose. It is imperative that we be a part of the discussion and decision.


Bonnie Bracey