Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon June 19, 2013 at 4:50 PM EDT
Watch "We the Geeks" on a 21st Century Resume live on Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT at WH.gov/WeTheGeeks. Join the conversation and ask your questions with the hashtag #WeTheGeeks. Sign up to get email updates about future hangouts.
In the same way that “merit badges” have been used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and medals have been used by the military to demonstrate achievement, a growing number of foundations, government agencies, companies and non-profits are exploring “digital badges” as the 21st century equivalent of a resume-builder that students and workers can use to showcase their skills, encourage their peers, and find meaningful educational and employment opportunities.
- Recognize student accomplishments in technical fields such as computer science and robotics;
- Help veterans get jobs by demonstrating the valuable real-world skills they’ve acquired in the military;
- Inspire students as part of a larger effort to reduce the number of high-school dropouts, which today number more than 1 million per year.
While much work is yet to be done to build an evidence base for the value of badges in various contexts, the badges movement is growing. In March, the City of Chicago, Mozilla, MacArthur, and 143 other organizations launched the “Summer of Learning.” The effort will recognize student learning whether it occurs at a park, museum, library or online course – and give learners digital credentials that communicate the skills they have developed. And just last week, MacArthur announced a major multi-year goal: to work with partners to give two million more students and adults access to compelling digital badges that help them achieve education and employment goals.
Building on the President Obama’s call to action to look for new and creative ways to engage students in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, as well as his ConnectEd plan to deliver high-speed Internet to 99% of American students, some Federal agencies are exploring the potential of badges as well. From a major topic at the Department of Education’s Reimagining Education conference last month to the work by NASA to create space explorer badges, a number of Federal agencies are exploring digital badges in both education and employment.
On Thursday, June 20th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT, the White House will host a “We The Geeks” Google+ Hangout on digital badges. During a conversation moderated by OSTP's Tom Kalil, we’ll be talking about the potential of digital badges to help students and adults with:
- Erin Knight, Sr. Director of Learning & Badges, Mozilla Foundation
- Connie Yowell, Director of Education for U.S. Programs, MacArthur Foundation
- Bryan Norato, student, University of Rhode Island
- Richard Culatta, Acting Director, Office of Educational Technology, Department of Education
Watch the "We the Geeks" Hangout live on WhiteHouse.gov/WeTheGeeks and on the White House Google+ page on Thursday. Got questions and comments? Use the hashtag #WeTheGeeks on Twitter and on Google+ and we'll answer some during the live Hangout.
Thomas Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at OSTP
- Posted byon June 19, 2013 at 3:50 PM EDT
Open Data took another leap forward at this week’s G8 Summit in Long Erne, Northern Ireland, as member countries signed an Open Data Charter to spur the release and use of government-held data to advance economic opportunity, spur innovation, and increase accountability around the world.
The Open Data Charter outlines principles that member countries—the US, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan–will act on, including an expectation that all government data will be published openly by default, and that signatories will work to increase the quality, quantity, and re-use of released data.
The G8 Open Data charter builds upon recent historic steps the US has taken domestically. On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13462, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, directing efforts to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs and others as fuel for innovation and economic growth.
When the Federal Government decided years ago to make weather data from satellites and ground stations public, it gave rise to an entire economic sector that has contributed billions to the economy and today includes weather newscasts, weather apps, commercial agricultural advisory services, and new insurance options—in addition to the vast public benefits derived from those activities. And more recently, as demonstrated by the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, we have seen entrepreneurs using open health data to power applications and services that help people throughout the country make informed healthcare decisions. Open government data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agencies is central to the data-powered revolution underway in health care today.
- Posted byon June 18, 2013 at 3:45 PM EDT
Do you remember a moment when a mentor, teacher, or friend opened up your eyes to something that changed your life? Do you remember a wide-eyed moment when the impossible became possible and it put you on a path of discovery and maybe even helped put you on the career path you are on today?
Heroes across the country help create these incredible moments every day. Many are working hard to connect and spark young minds to get excited about technology through mentoring; many others are dreaming up the technology tools themselves that can spark imagination and wonder. These champions are inspiring students to get excited about becoming the developers, engineers, and innovators who will create solutions to some of our toughest challenges.
This July, the White House will host a “Champions of Change” event on Tech Inclusion. This event will celebrate and honor local change-agents who are making these moments of wonder and discovery happen for kids – specifically those making a difference for kids from communities underrepresented in technology, like girls and minorities.
And today, we’re asking you to help us identify these standout local leaders by nominating a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion by July 1st.
- Posted byon June 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM EDT
Poor nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children globally each year – and prevents the minds and bodies of another 165 million children from reaching their full potential. In addition, nutrition is a serious economic issue: experts estimate that undernutrition reduces national economic advancement in Africa and Asia by 8% each year. Thankfully, we know a lot about what works to improve nutrition, including the fact that intervention must occur during the first 1,000 days of life or damage is irreversible. We also know that addressing nutrition is one of the most cost-effective investments available: for every $1 invested in nutrition, as much as $138 is generated in better health and productivity.
Last week, following the publishing of a new series on maternal and child nutrition in the medical journal The Lancet , governments, donors, non-profits, academia, and the private sector came together to focus on undernutrition at events in London and Washington, DC. The events provided an opportunity for the United States and other participants to highlight existing and planned actions to address undernutrition. US Agency for International Development Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah highlighted the investments the US Government is making in nutrition as part of the Presidential Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives: over the three-year period of fiscal years 2012-2014, these investments total $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions and nearly $9 billion for activities in other sectors that also improve nutrition.
The US and the UK governments also announced they are seeking partners to launch a Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative this fall to increase the quality, quantity, and timeliness of available data that can help support agriculture and nutrition efforts, and also increase the number and diversity of stakeholders who are applying data-based solutions to improve agriculture and nutrition. This is an initiative that will be tremendously exciting – if you or your organization is interested in learning more, please visit the initiative website.
- Posted byon June 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM EDT
Last week, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act by President Kennedy, President Obama recognized innovators who have used open government data to build tools that address the wage gap.
That gap has grown considerably smaller since the Kennedy era, but it has not disappeared. In 2011, for example, a typical 25 year-old woman working full-time, year-round, will have already earned $5,000 less than a typical 25 year-old man. If that woman were to face the same wage gap for each year going forward, then by age 35 she will have earned $33,600 less than a typical 35 year-old man. By age 65, that earnings gap will have ballooned to $389,300.
- Posted byon June 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM EDT
OSTP today released the National Biosurveillance Science and Technology Roadmap, which identifies and prioritizes research and development (R&D) needs with the goal of giving decision makers and responders the information they need to protect the public from biological threats.
Biological threats such as the H7N9 influenza virus and the novel coronavirus recently identified in the Middle East—as well as those resulting from accidental releases or exposures or intentional, malevolent activities—have the potential to erupt suddenly and evolve quickly. Surveillance is essential for predicting, preventing, and mitigating the impacts of such events.
The Roadmap, drafted by the interagency Biosurveillance Science and Technology Working Group under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Homeland and National Security, builds upon the National Strategy for Biosurveillance, published in July 2012. That document recognized that a well-integrated national biosurveillance enterprise can save lives by providing timely and accurate information for better decision making. The Roadmap identifies R&D priorities and objectives to enable implementation of the Strategy, such as:
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