At Qualcomm, we believe that America’s students should have the same 24/7 access to their learning communities that we have in our work lives. Today, the FCC and the U.S. Department of Education took a big step towards making that a reality with the release of the Digital Textbook Playbook. The Playbook was developed by the Digital Textbook Working Group, a collaborative public-private sector task force convened by the two agencies with representation from a number of companies involved in digital learning, including Qualcomm. The Playbook builds upon the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and the Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan. It urges school districts to support 3G/4G mobile broadband off-campus to provide students with 24/7 learning opportunities.
In developing the Playbook, the FCC drew upon expertise from industry stakeholders, school officials and nonprofit leaders to encourage collaboration across the broadband and education ecosystems, accelerate the development of digital textbooks and improve the quality and penetration of digital learning in K-12 public education.
The Playbook offers information for school districts about how to deploy broadband infrastructure for schools and classrooms, leverage home and community broadband to extend the digital learning environment and manage the full panoply of devices available to students. It also provides lessons learned from school districts that engaged in successful transitions to digital learning, including from those districts that have successfully used 3G/4G mobile broadband connectivity and devices to enhance learning.
One of the four guideposts identified in the Playbook as a prerequisite for successful digital learning is connectivity beyond school through mobile broadband. As the Playbook states: "To accomplish truly ubiquitous digital learning, students must be able to connect beyond the school walls."
Why is this important? It’s important because education is a key driver for growth and development. The world is facing a global crisis in bringing quality education to all citizens and this is also true in the United States. In the U.S., we need to move towards the 21st century skills students need to compete in the global marketplace. These skills include critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, teamwork and collaboration.
And mobile technology, and the devices it enables, can play a key role in bringing a 21st century education to students, no matter what their income or location.
In fact, the Playbook emphasizes digital learning by students using the same types of mobile broadband devices that they use in their daily lives. In the words of the Playbook: "Connectivity on devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops allows students to view digital learning content for greatly enhanced homework activities, find answers to questions as they arise, and collaborate with peers anywhere and anytime."
This sort of 24/7 access to teachers, peers and mentors supports the education of a workforce that is strong in all fields, but particularly math and science, effective in a global context and highly adaptive.
We hope that this is merely the beginning of a revolution in how our students learn and access information. We are thrilled that the FCC and the Department of Education are taking a leadership role in arming our students with the tools they need to succeed and innovate in the 21st century.