ConnectED: A Year of Action for American Students and Teachers

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on ConnectED at Buck Lodge Middle School

President Barack Obama delivers remarks detailing progress toward his ConnectED goal of connecting 99% of students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years, at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland, Feb. 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

One year ago, President Obama unveiled his ConnectED initiative to empower students and teachers with technology in the classroom. The President called on businesses, states, districts, schools, and communities to support this vision, and through the power of his pen and phone, he is building momentum and we are seeing results. 

Over the past year, the President has worked with the private sector to catalyze impactful commitments of free hardware, software, educational content, and wireless connectivity — amounting to over $2 billion in value for American schools. 

On top of that, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has pledged to invest an additional $2 billion to connect 20 million more students to fast broadband and wireless in their classrooms over the next two years. Taken together, this represents more than $4 billion in public and private support starting this calendar year.

This investment is the shot of adrenaline our schools need to surge into the 21st century. It is a major down payment on providing every child in America with the high-quality teaching and technological skills that they deserve, and the economy demands. 

And we are keeping our foot on the accelerator.

Today, we are announcing that the 10 companies who have made ConnectED commitments are making those private funding resources available to schools across the country, and information about these and other resources will be accessible through a new ConnectED Hub. 

Companies like Adobe, Autodesk, Esri, O’Reilly Media, and Prezi are opening up learning software and content resources to all eligible schools across the country. Others, like Apple, AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, are partnering with non-profit organizations and communities to help equip some of the neediest schools with hardware, software, and wireless connectivity crucial to the ConnectED vision. You can learn about it all on our Hub.

But don’t take our word for it. We’ve heard from students, at schools like Mooresville High and Buck Lodge Middle School, who tell us they’re more engaged and are better prepared for college and the workforce as a result of technology in their classrooms. We’ve heard from educators who say ConnectED is already setting off a wave of enthusiasm among their peers, allowing them to unlock teaching opportunities they have tried to implement for years. And we’ve heard from venture capitalists who tell us that they are taking a second look at the education technology market, and are encouraging start-ups to develop for schools.

These are the kinds of opportunities we want to create for every student, for every educator, in every school, and across our economy. And one year later, ConnectED is making good on that promise.

Learn more about how your school can take advantage of the ConnectED commitments:

  • Sprint has committed to provide high-speed wireless broadband service for up to 50,000 students at schools across the country starting in August 2014 and over the next four years. Click here to submit an application for participation in Sprint’s ConnectED commitment. Upon selection, the applicant will receive additional information, including a secure website to manage their account.

  • Verizon will be expanding one of its key education initiatives, the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) by introducing the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy. VILS provides two years of comprehensive professional development for teachers on how to effectively incorporate mobile technology into their classrooms to change the way they teach and students learn. Currently, VILS serves 24 schools, 229 teachers and 11,500 students. In partnership with the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) and Johns Hopkins University, the Verizon Foundation is launching the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy, a virtual, moderated professional development course offered to teams of educators for free.

    The course includes five modules developed around ISTE standards. Course modules are designed to help teachers, administrators, and tech coaches implement effective mobile learning initiatives in their schools and classrooms. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be offered through Johns Hopkins University to teachers upon completing the course. The training will reach up to 3,000 teachers across all 50 states over the next three years, beginning this fall.

    Administrators and teachers can sign up to receive more information about the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy by clicking here.

Arne Duncan is the U.S. Secretary of Education. Jeff Zients is the Director of the National Economic Council.
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