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Letter of Support for Universal Broadband in the U.S.

Laura Geringer

— February 11, 2021

Introduction

Access to broadband internet and the tools needed to use that connectivity for work and learning is essential to building better futures for work and learning – and an essential element of Digital Equity, a priority that goes beyond technology access.  

Below is a letter written by the project team for ShapingEDU’s “Connecting for Work + Learning” project (join here) to advocate for universal broadband in the United States, and seek collaborators in these efforts.  We are sending it directly to leaders and policy makers at various levels of government in the U.S. and posting it here so that you may use it as an inspiration to reach out to government and policy members in your area.



-----------------------Letter of Support for Universal Broadband in the U.S.-----------------------

 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

 

Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman,

Federal Communications Commission

Delivered via email

 

Dear Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel:

Thanks for all you’re doing to support access to the Internet and the tools needed to use it effectively throughout our nation. We want you to know, up front, that our “Connecting for Work and Learning” initiative is meant to provide support for creating universal broadband access throughout the United States, and we want to do everything possible to work with you toward that shared goal. We are reaching out to you because you have the ability to leverage the stories we can share with you to make change.

We’re a part of ShapingEDU, an international community of practice, organized under the auspices of Arizona State University (ASU). We are a global coalition of dreamers, doers, and drivers -- educators, technologists, futurists, innovators, and changemakers -- striving to shape the future of learning in a digital world. (ShapingEDU is organized under ASU but does not speak on behalf of the university.)

We want to foster the largest amount of positive collaboration among those affected by inadequate broadband access and inadequate access to the tools needed to access the Internet for work and learning here in the United States. We know these challenges have been pervasive for years. We know that the need for broadband access is receiving plenty of attention. We know there are numerous organizations and informal groups working on this issue, and we want to help bring them together to produce the greatest positive results possible. 

At least one thing is clear to us: The period we’re living through is a time of opportunity as well as a time of challenge. Climate change, shifts in global alliances, and the changes in work and living patterns brought about by the pandemic will accelerate overall change. It is very likely that a “new normal” will not stabilize for quite some time -- but any form of the transition to that domain will involve universal access to broadband, devices, and the knowledge of how to use them for any nation that hopes to not be left helpless in the face of change.  As dreamer-driver-doers, we recognize and want to be part of creating new and better futures that carry forward lessons learned during the pandemic so all of us can more effectively engage in work and learning here in the United States.

For us, universal access at high speed – 100mbps download and 25mbps upload – implies possibilities. Success. Inclusivity. Innovation. Collaboration. And positive steps forward to use the tools available to us to produce positive results throughout our country. In an earlier era, universal access to postal services opened doors to forms of communication and commerce that had been unevenly distributed in the population. In turn, as a result, need and availability of the medium helped drive literacy overall. In similar fashion, universal broadband can help shape the “new normal” in this way: during COVID, the world looked - despite the wide use of remote learning and work tools - very much like a pre-post office world. The use overall of the toolset, and the problems encountered, could be resolved and see a shift into new domains in the context of universal broadband.

We would like the opportunity to combine our efforts for universal connectivity with those within the FCC as well as with individuals and groups nationwide advocating for these initiatives. We understand that success requires innovative approaches that build upon past successes to create present and future possibilities to resolve the challenges of universal Internet access. We are storytellers with a specific goal in mind: telling stories that inspire positive action – action that supports universal broadband access throughout the United States. Please let us know what we can do to support you.

 

Sincerely,

–Lisa Gustinelli, ShapingEDU Innovator in Residence, Director Instructional Technology St. Vincent Ferrer School, Florida

 

Sent on behalf of members of the organizing committee for ShapingEDU’s Connecting for Work + Learning: Universal Broadband Access in the United State project.

 

Laura Geringer, content strategist, communicator, + ShapingEDU community manager, Illinois

Dr. Allison Hall, Director of Learning Experience Design, Arizona State University, Arizona

Alice Keeler, teacher, EdTech expert, author. Kansas.

Arlene Krebs, Founder & Director of the Wireless Education & Technology Center at CSU Monterey Bay (retired), and a California Broadband Champion (2014)

Dr. Ann Musgrove, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology, Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Jillian Powers, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology, Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, ShapingEDU Innovator in Residence, education researcher and consultant, Massachusetts

Anita Roselle, ShapingEDU Innovator in Residence, Texas

Paul Signorelli, Shaping EDU Storyteller in Residence; writer-trainer-presenter-consultant, California

Jim Vanides, Online Instructor and Teacher Educator, Montana State University

Laura Geringer