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FCC Decision Opens the Door for Rural Broadband Access

December 13, 2011 at 6:37 am PST

I heard an NPR story the other day about the FCC‘s recent ruling that diverts monthly fees from rural telephone service to rural broadband service. The “Universal Service Fund” or something similar has been around since the early 20th century, charging a small fee on our phone bills to subsidize phone service for rural areas and the poor.

The newly minted “Connect America Fund” now allocates this money for mobile telephone and broadband in rural communities and needy areas. As I’ve discussed in a blog post earlier this year, access to the internet can not only offer rural U.S. citizens access to critical information, but it can provide them health care benefits that could literally save lives.

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West Palm Beach Integrates Digital Technology, With Room for Telepresence

December 9, 2011 at 8:57 am PST

The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, is on to something.

The popular tourist destination, and home to 100,000 residents, has embarked upon its own digital revolution of sorts. In an effort to develop business, bring digital communication to the underserved, and make its citizens feel more connected to the local government, West Palm Beach has pulled out nearly all the technological stops.

To bridge the digital divide between wealthy and impoverished populations, the city has installed free Wi-Fi in many public places, including its famous waterfront and the public library. Two Youth Empowerment Centers now include audio/visual recording labs to encourage teens’ multimedia skills and interests. Additionally, in terms of constituent outreach, a planned “Tele-Town Hall” will enable residents to connect with city officials via phone, local television, and social media.

So what more could West Palm Beach do to optimize its technological prowess? Add more telepresence… Read More »

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Challenging Students to Reach Out with Telepresence

November 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm PST


Ever hear about an interesting location, historical site or tourist attraction and thought “wow, I only live five miles from there, I should check it out”? Well, it just happens that there are numerous groups of students who are engaging with the uniqueness of their communities and sharing their knowledge with the world.

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Utah Education Network: A true innovator in education technology

November 18, 2011 at 10:18 am PST

Utah Education Network (UEN) joined the ranks of technology leaders in October when the Utah Governor broadcast a motivational speech to Utah high school students via live-telecast. Governor Gary R. Herbert was the first ever Utah governor to address students through statewide broadcast.

The Governor’s address was broadcast via telepresence from the USU/CEU center in Blanding and was available via live-stream to every high school in the state. A recording of Governor Herbert’s live event is housed on the UEN site. During the event, the Governor took questions via interactive video from students in Rich High School (Randolph, UT), Orem High School, and Murray High School. Read More »

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Lessons from the DOD: Energizing and Engaging Students through Technology

November 10, 2011 at 5:31 am PST

A recent American Forces Press Service article reported that the Department of Defense (DOD) launched a visionary program to renovate or replace 134 of its 194 schools worldwide. The DOD allotted  $3.7 billion to bring all of its schools up to the highest technology levels by 2016 and Congress appropriated nearly $400 million in fiscal 2011 to aid the effort. This is a fantastic program that builds on the Department of Education’s current initiative to prioritize technologies such as telepresence for K-12 schools.

As technology becomes more prevalent in the classroom, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has embraced multiple initiatives, from building robots to teaching Japanese in a virtual learning program. According to the story, military children move an average of six to eight times over the course of their school careers, making these programs particularly important. Read More »

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