Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes Stan Hubbard, Director, Communications & Research, MEF 9/3/2008
For the billions spent each year on education and the flow of information into and out of American homes, I think U.S. teenagers ought to rank higher than 17th in science and 24th in math compared to their peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 's 30 member countries.
I am hoping for a growing number of business, education, and government leaders to rethink our approach to education and launch bold initiatives to take greater advantage of the Internet and broadband connectivity to significantly improve quality of life and economic competitiveness.
In mid-July 2008, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling challenged education experts to take seriously the core promise of American universities and improve the "three A's": access, affordability, and accountability. As Spelling stated, "We're not in the business of containing information or knowledge. We're in the business of sharing it!"
That sure sounds to me like an awesome challenge for the telecom industry to play a major role in addressing. There ought to be a few billion dollars lying around somewhere that can be put to work to unleash well organized information over carrier networks with the goal of overcoming barriers to quality education and providing greater content choice.
We already have some interesting developments at the higher education level, with institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University making course content available for free online. In fact, as I write I am downloading a 242 MByte audio file on Astrobiology & Space Exploration from Stanford that I plan to listen to with the kids after they get home from their legacy schools.
The university stuff is wonderful, but the opportunity to make a difference could be much greater if we focus on addressing the needs of students at a young age.
Live anywhere in the country and have a child starting 6th grade? How about going to an accredited education Website to access all of the basic and supplemental materials that your child needs in interactive text and video format? Want the Honors Math, NASA Science, and Advanced World History modules? You can access all of that online at minimal cost.
Perhaps there is an opportunity for service providers to help shake things up a bit by partnering with educational experts to deliver broadband-powered, customized, Web-based service portals with lively academic content. I don't have all the answers, but I think there are plenty of unmet educational needs that would make this a profitable opportunity to pursue.
— Stan Hubbard, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading