FCC’s Broadband Action Agenda Fails to Address Training and Education

I’ve been following the FCC’s National Broadband Plans since they were sent to Congress.  I’ve been excited about the possibility of the Digital Literacy Corps.  However when reviewing the Broadband Action Agenda I feel a little uneasy.  I see no reference to training or instruction.  While I agree on the importance of access to broadband I’m concerned about lack of attention to instruction. This sort of training and funding are desperately needed.  Dumping broadband access on communities that can’t afford a computer or the monthly fee for high speed access and without any instruction is like giving  a 13 year a Ferrari, its a great car but he can’t afford the gas and he don’t know how to drive it.  Its basically worthless.

At the VERY least there should be mention of public libraries.  They are the ones who will be providing access to this wonderful broadband to people who can’t afford the device or the connection fee. It also falls upon them to provide the training and instruction.  Broadband is wonderful but we are not born knowing how to use the internet, not even so called digital natives.

I hope I’m wrong, I hope I’m missing something and someone will point it out to me and I’ll feel dumb, because I’d rather feel that than the disbelief and outrage I feel right now.

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10 thoughts on “FCC’s Broadband Action Agenda Fails to Address Training and Education

  1. Thanks for noticing this!

    Looking at the Broadband Action Agenda, I noticed that the legend refers to all intra-FCC bureaus and offices. There’s also a small footnote down at the bottom that reads “This document reflects only proposed FCC actions, not those of other government agencies, and is not exhaustive of all 2010 FCC actions.”

    And going through Chapter 9 of the National Broadband Plan, the recommendations for digital inclusion literacy and training are all tasked to Congress, IMLS & OMB. So it looks like the FCC is delegating digital literacy to other agencies and since the Action Agenda is devoted solely to FCC-based items, that’s why it wasn’t included.

    Another note: I recently saw Blair Levin and Phoebe Yang, and in their presentation, both of them talked strongly about digital inclusion and training and the role of public libraries in providing broadband access. I think they “grok” the role of libraries and the need for training and I can see an argument for making training/literacy a task for Congress & IMLS. At the same time, we can’t be complacent about current recognition of libraries and digital literacy training and there should be continual awareness and advocacy by the library community to make sure that the Digital Literacy Corps not only becomes an action item and is implemented.

    (Note: I’m truly not an apologist for the FCC [although I’m certainly willing to be in an official capacity].)


  2. Libraries and communities already do a lot at grassroots level to promote digital literacy. Federal money and involvement is not the solution to everything although somehow we keep hoping it will be. Local library collaborations with colleges, schools, other non-profits and businesses (plus some good old leadership, initiative and innovation) is really what is needed to reach those in the digital limbo. It’s about combining the resources we already have to creative output and not wait for the feds and congress to do something someday. We can do it ourselves.


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