Cable Show 2013: Cable Can Help Drive Education Revolution

Access to Broadband At Home, School Can Drive Innovations
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Washington – The cable industry can play a key role in the transformation of the education system in this country by providing students and schools access to broadband technology and devices at students’ homes and schools, a panel of cable operators, technologists and educators said at the closing general session during the 2013 Cable Show.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged the industry to continue to help the current administration in its efforts to bring broadband access to every child in the country, adding that he would also like to see on the state and local level, school districts spending their already strained budgets more efficiently.
Duncan added that states spend between $7 billion and $9 billion per year on text books, adding that most districts are engaged in seven-year text-book adoption cycles, meaning that some districts purchase a new science book very seven years,
“Information changes by the minute,” Duncan said. “It makes no sense to me.”
He added that districts could divert some of that spending toward electronic text books that are not only cheaper, but present more up to date information in a more engaging manner.
Comcast executive vice president David Cohen agreed, adding that electronic text books.
“We as a cable industry can participate in this revolution to advance the needle in the quality of education and learning in America,” Cohen said.
Cohen added that solving the problems of education are not one-offs, and that integrated solutions are needed from the beginning of the educational process, during and after the school day and even through college.
“You can’t attack on piece of the problem and expect to make a difference,” Cohen said adding that Duncan “is in the right room,” in trying to foster change.
“The cable industry has a unique role to play,” Cohen continued. “ I look forward to parsing each one of these challenges and seeing what Comcast and all of us can do to advance the agenda.”
 Helping students after they leave the classroom also is critical, particularly by providing low-cost broadband access and devices to lower income homes.
Valyncia Hawkins, a fifth grade teacher at Washington's Anne Beers Elementary School, said getting parents involved in the educational process also is important.
Hawkins said that educators are becoming more facilitators of learning, rather than teachers, and  having broadband in the classroom makes the learning experience  a reciprocal one. Extending that connectivity to the home engages the community in the process, she added.
At social learning software provider Zeal, CEO John Danner said getting broadband connectivity into low-income homes is an important first step in enabling parents to find out how their kids are doing in school and to communicate with teachers. He added that the proliferation of smartphones has been an important second step.
"That has had a huge impact on low-income families," Danner sad. "The devices are getting into homes. Now it's about the software."