Genachowski Praises New LEAD Commission


Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski Thursday gave a shout-out to the creation of a new commission, the Leading by Advancing Digital Commission. Its goal is to come up with a blueprint for advancing the transition of education to digital.

The FCC and Obama administration have been promoting broadband as an educational imperative, including through subsidies and incentives to build out broadband to schools and libraries and pushing for digital textbooks to replace the tree-heavy backpacks currently weighing kids down.

The commission will combine input from teachers, parents, school officials, tech leaders and others and will be co-chaired by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger; James Coulter of TPG Capital; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer. Genachowski is a founding board member of Common Sense Media, which promotes technological tools to help parents manage their kids' media consumption.

"I'm pleased these leaders are rising to the challenge [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan and I set out to harness technology to help our students reach their full potential."

The LEAD commission's goals are to:

1) "develop a fact base of current efforts, key trends, cost implications and obstacles to adoption of existing technologies;
2) "examine how technology has been a catalyst for improvement in other sectors and what that implies for how technology and digital content could positively impact teaching and learning over time" and
3) "recommend the types of policies and funding vehicles that may be needed to ensure that school systems can successfully incorporate technology."

The commission builds on and is responsive to the FCC's National Broadband Plan released in March 2010 and DOE's National Education Technology Plan released in November of that year.

Genachowski's former boss, ex FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, is also in on the digital education push. Last November he joined the board of Kno, which makes the kind of easily updated etextbook tablets the current FCC chair is hoping will replace all those hard copies that can be outdated at the speed of digital.

Geanchowski helped implement the Hundt era E-rate initiative to fund communications services to schools and libraries. The FCC in 2010 updated that program to officially allow E-rate funding for after-school access to computers and broadband by the community, to make so-called dark fiber eligible for that funding, to streamline the application process and to better guard against waste, fraud and abuse.