Proposed bill would give tech lift to community colleges
The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund was designed to help schools and libraries in the United States with discounts and funds to help acquire broadband access and telecommunications technology and equipment. The discounts are relative to the poverty level of the area, and are intended to help schools in areas of high poverty level the playing field and offer the same technologies that are available to other students across America.
Now, a new bill introduced in the United States House of Representatives called the “E-Rate 2.0 Act of 2010,” would add a five-year, $750 million broadband pilot program for community colleges and head start programs.
With the Obama Administration’s focus on improving our education systems, and specifically community colleges, this concept can truly go a long way in making an affordable, quality higher education available to students who may find a four-year institution of higher education out of their financial reach.
The fact is, increased broadband availability at community colleges and other educational institutions is the key to many high-bandwidth, but amazingly effective educational tools. One of those tools is video teleconferencing (VTC).
VTC can increase broadband adoption and level the playing field for community college students by bringing them previously unavailable educational opportunities, all while saving money and resources. Community colleges could share professors with larger colleges and universities. Also, additional courses could be offered that previously were unavailable due to a lack of knowledgeable teachers by having them teach from a distance via VTC.
The House bill introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) may be far from being passed, but it definitely seems to have potential for improving America’s community colleges and bringing a high quality, affordable higher education to American students. The increased adoption of broadband and the implementation of advanced technologies like VTC will help break down the walls between students and a bright future and career. Now that’s a new way of teaching…and learning.