In a move sure to be warmly met by all students with cell phones, President Obama has said he hopes to get high-speed Internet into most schools within five years.
Obama spoke to a crowd in the gymnasium at Mooresville Middle Schools in North Carolina to demonstrate the Internet-based education programs he plans to make available across the nation. He called on the FCC to “expand an existing program to provide discounted high-speed Internet service to schools and libraries, even if it meant increasing the fees that for years had been added to consumers’ phone bills. He said the initiative could lead to better technology at 99 percent of schools,” according to a New York Times article.
“For those of you who follow politics in Washington, here’s the best news — none of this requires an act of Congress.” To students’ applause, he added, “We can and we will get started right away.”
Arne Duncan, Obama’s education secretary, will work with the FCC to revamp the Schools and Libraries program, or E-rate, to provide local schools with high-speed Internet as fast as 1 gigabit per second.
With the federal money that Mr. Obama proposes to redirect for this purpose, schools also could pay for wireless networks throughout their buildings and campuses.
However, some question the effectiveness and benefits of going all online. Are e-books any better than traditional ones? Does all that screen time hurt students eyesight? Some studies have shown that students remember things better that they read on paper.
Still…there is a time and place for technology. Students need to learn when and how to use emerging technology so as not to fall behind in a marketplace which demands the use of such knowledge. However, they must also be taught the etiquette for when not to use it. There are simply some times when it is better to unplug.