Another school year has ended and the Class of 2015 high school grads are off to college or their first real-world jobs. The good news is that more than ever are graduating, 81% according to the Department of Education. That’s great… or is it? When I was in school, an 81 percent was a B minus, almost a C plus. Is that good enough? What happens to that other nearly 20 percent of students didn’t graduate from high school? How did they fall through the cracks?
Teachers, administrators and specialists from tech organizations are trying to solve this challenge and increase those percentages. I met a lot of those people last weekend when I attended the 2015 Emerging Technologies Forum & Annual Business Meeting hosted by SETDA and ISTE 2015 in Philly. My goal was to share with them Qualcomm Education’s vision of 24/7 learning and explain how the Qualcomm Education team is trying to solve the “homework gap” with the Qualcomm QLearn Mobile Education Platform—a comprehensive platform that supports 24/7 learning inside and outside the classroom, leveraging wireless technologies, particularly LTE.
Recall that the homework gap is a component of the digital divide. Here’s the situation: most teachers today assign homework that requires some sort of research or part thereof to be completed via a broadband connection to the Internet. If you’re a student in a financially disadvantaged family, some rural areas, or a large family when access to the Internet means “waiting in line”, accessing the Internet is a challenge—chances are, your family cannot afford broadband services, mobile or landline. Consider these stark statistics:
- 63 percent of students do not have mobile devices for 1:1 learning
- 30 percent of households do not have Wi-Fi
- 40 percent of classrooms do not have Wi-Fi
Coming from the tech world, I find that amazing, in a sad way. How can we allow kids to fall behind, and possibly stay behind for the rest of their lives because of a simple, seemingly ubiquitous thing like Internet access?
So, what happened at the conference?
Soledad O’Brien, the award-winning journalist, kicked off ISTE 2015 on Sunday night with a keynote emphasizing the potential technology offers to deliver equity and access in education to previously underserved populations.
I met with a number of State Ed tech directors, teachers, device providers, non profits and wireless operators to share our education vision. It was encouraging to find that most these groups were receptive and interested in our solution, and it was interesting to hear their perspectives.
I also had the opportunity to hear from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as she discussed ways and options to get Internet access to kids when they aren’t at school, including leveraging the decades-old Lifeline program to deliver off-campus broadband to students.
My team also attended a panel set up by Julie Evans (Project Tomorrow CEO) and Chris Dede (Harvard University) : The Eight Essentials of Mobile Learning.
Overall, I thought the conference was very positive, insightful and inspiring. Hopefully, in the very near future, we can transform everything we’ve discussed at the conference into action… and ultimately raise those high school graduation percentages to an “A.”
To learn more about Qualcomm Education and how we’re influencing education, visit our site here.
Check out our other Qualcomm Education OnQ blog posts: