FCC To Launch $7.17 Billion Connectivity Fund Program

New Program Provides Funding to Schools and Libraries Critical to Closing the Homework Gap

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Far too often, students, teachers, and library patrons lack the access they need to broadband and connected devices. This need has become even more apparent during these unprecedented times,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the FCC. “Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households. These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare, and employment resources. They will help close the Homework Gap for students nationwide and give so many more households the ability to connect, communicate, and more fully participate in modern life.”

The Report and Order adopted today establishes the rules and policies governing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The new rules define eligible equipment and services, service locations, eligible uses, and reasonable support amounts for funding provided. It designates the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) as the program administrator with FCC oversight, and leverages the processes and structures used in the ERate program for the benefit of schools and libraries already familiar with the E-Rate program. It also adopts procedures to protect the limited funding from waste, fraud, and abuse.

Recent estimates suggest there may be as many as 17 million children struggling without the broadband access they need for remote learning. The Acting Chairwoman has long made closing the Homework Gap a priority during her tenure at the Commission.

— Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Top photo: GettyImages


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A new generation of Black male teachers starts its journey in partnership with Apple

AUSTIN, TX — For more than 100 years, teaching has run through Hillary-Rhys Richard’s family. Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as he’s known to his friends, listened to his mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors — four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.

By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a Black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped steer him to follow in their footsteps.

This week, Rhys, 18, will complete his freshman year remotely as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first-of-its-kind program was created in partnership with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Apple’s multiyear partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other engagements the company has established through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, working alongside the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning and workforce opportunities.

At Huston-Tillotson, Apple is providing scholarships for the program’s students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional-development courses for students and faculty. 

“Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in his application essay to Huston-Tillotson. “In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race.

Rhys Richard practices the tuba alongside iPad Pro and MacBook Pro.
Rhys Richard plays four instruments and one day aspires to teach music.

Currently, only 2 percent of all US teachers are Black men, something the program at Huston-Tillotson seeks to change. When Black students are taught by a Black teacher, they are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college.

Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has witnessed the power of that relationship firsthand. Her son had a Black male teacher in the fifth grade, and it transformed his education.

“It just really did something magical for him,” says Dr. Burnette. “So this is personal for me because of my own experience raising an African American male. It’s my mission to be able to get these young Black men in classrooms, so they can pour into other vessels like themselves because they have shared experiences. And there’s nothing like being taught by someone who has a shared experience.

”It’s the reason Dr. Burnette prioritized the creation of the African American Male Teacher Initiative, and sought out a partner in Apple.

I want to be the teacher I never had, the teacher every student deserves. And it all begins here.

Rhys Richard, student at Huston-Tillotson University

“There’s an African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,’” says Dr. Burnette. “So to have a partner like Apple that is best in class for innovation and its commitment to excellence — it’s a natural match. We’re investing in a mission with education as the great equalizer and giving people opportunities to be the best they can be.”

When Rhys graduates from the program, he’s going to teach music. He currently plays four instruments, including the tuba, which is his favorite. His freshman music classes are taught by Dr. Samuel Rowley, who is Rhys’s first Black male teacher. “He’s very positive,” says Rhys. “And he’s a perfectionist with his work, which is sort of like me. So I see myself in him.”

Dr. Rowley’s life was also changed by his first Black male teacher, his high school band director. “He left a tremendous impact,” says Dr. Rowley.

“We all wanted to be music teachers just like him.” Dr. Rowley uses Clips and Garage Band on iPad in his music classes, which are all taught remotely because of the pandemic.

“If it would not have been for Apple products, I would not have been able to connect with my students all around the country,” says Dr. Rowley, who is a recognized Apple Teacher after completing professional learning courses offered through the free online Apple Teacher Learning Center. He’s guiding Rhys and his fellow Pre-Ed Scholars through the courses as well, so they will also be recognized Apple Teachers when they graduate.

“I’m really excited about learning more about Apple technology with the Apple Teacher program,” says Rhys. “Especially now that I’ve been introduced to GarageBand, I want to learn more about how I can incorporate it into my classes when I’m a teacher.” That passion for sharing knowledge is something that Rhys’s mother has seen for many years.

“The way he loves music, it will make anyone love music,” says Astrya, an assistant principal who taught for many years. “And I just picture him having that type of impact on kids. I think he’s going to be an outstanding educator.” Rhys’s application essay to Huston-Tillotson closed with a commitment to the generations of students he will undoubtedly go on to inspire.“

I look forward to creating a place of open learning where ideas are exchanged and experiences are shared,” wrote Rhys. “I want to be the teacher I never had, the teacher every student deserves. And it all begins here.”

Rhys Richard with his mother, Astrya Richard, and his father, Hillary Richard Jr.
Rhys Richard’s mother, Astrya Richard, who spent her career in education, and his father, Hillary Richard Jr., deeply support their son’s journey to one day teach the next generation of students.

— Source and photos: Apple

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CES 2021 Opens with Innovation and Technologies for a Better Future

ARLINGTON, VA—The first-ever, all-digital CES® 2021, owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, opened its full digital experience to audiences around the world. Following a day of exclusive, media-only press conferences and a keynote from Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg on Jan. 11, this transformational event provides audiences with a front row seat to the innovation and technologies that will move the world forward. CES 2021 will feature more than 1900 exhibitors representing the entire tech spectrum and more than 100 conference sessions will showcase industry leaders who will share visions for a better future. General Motors (GM) Chairman and CEO Mary Barra will present the official opening keynote address at 9 AM EST on Jan. 12, where she’ll share GM’s transformational strategy to advance mobility.

CES 2021 attendees will experience a highly personalized show where they can see the latest product launches, hear insights from global visionaries, engage with global brands and startups, chat and meet with attendees from around the globe and receive recommendations based on personal preferences. In addition, a live anchor desk will serve as a “home base” to guide audiences through the digital experience.

“The pandemic forced us to take a step back from a traditional CES, throw out the playbook and transform how we’d bring the tech community together,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “CES looks different this year, but the foundation of the show – innovation, connection, collaboration – remains strong and consistent. The digital transformation will continue for years, even as we return to Las Vegas in 2022. We have seen the value of connecting digitally and we can welcome even more people from around the world.”

CES 2021 innovations and products will span the tech industry, from automotive to digital health, 5G, smart cities and beyond. On Jan. 11, the world’s media had exclusive access to nearly 20 press conferences from global brands. Media Day provided a sneak peek at the expected themes and trends for CES 2021, including a smarter home that creates a home, office and workout space; sustainable products for a longer, safer future; and innovations in transportation and mobility.

“Media Day offered an exciting preview for what’s to come at CES 2021, yet only scratched the surface of this groundbreaking CES experience,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, CTA. “Audiences across the globe, many for the first time, will participate in a true broadcast event this week. With more than 100 conference sessions, including special entertainment events, attendees will hear the latest topics impacting the industry. They’ll also interact directly with exhibitors and fellow CES attendees, forming business connections for the future.”

Following Media Day, Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg delivered a keynote focused on 5G. Vestberg shared how the essential qualities of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network have come to life. These qualities include unparalleled upload and download speeds, enormous capacity and ultra-low lag, supporting more connected devices and mobile connection, and providing faster, more responsive service deployment and a new standard for energy efficiency and reliability. Verizon shared updates on the various projects and partnerships enabled by 5G Ultra Wideband, including the Verizon 5G Super Stadium Experience in the NFL app and the transformation of watching and experiencing sports; expanding the museum experience with 5G and an immersive art experiences with the Metropolitan Museum of Art; partnership with UPS and Skyward to support a nationwide drone delivery network; and deployment of 15 Live Nation venues enabled by 5G Ultra Wideband. Also, Verizon provided audiences with an immersive 5G-enabled entertainment experience from the Black Pumas.

Media Day featured a full day of press conferences from top exhibitors who broke news to a media-only audience, just as they would in Las Vegas. Media heard the latest breaking news, product launches and technology trends as a preview to the exhibitor showcase opening. 

  • Bosch: Showcased commitments to sustainability as the first global industrial enterprise to become carbon neutral and introduced an AI-enabled wearable fitness tracker that recognizes and records any type of fitness activity that is based on repetitive, cyclative patterns.
  • Canon: Provided a sneak peek of Canon’s plans for the all-digital CES beyond cameras and printers, including redefining viewing the planet, skateboarding and tackling food waste
  • Caterpillar: Shared the first application of command for Caterpillar’s autonomous mining trucks and groundbreaking technology in the most challenging conditions.
  • Hisense: Announced the 2021 TriChroma Laser TV line.
  • Indy Autonomous Challenge: Unveiled the world’s first autonomous racecar, to be used in the Indy Autonomous Challenge where 500+ university students are developing the technology to drive the racecar and win the competition for a $1.5 million prize.
  • Intel/Mobileye: Shared news around the future of mobility for Mobileye, including plans to open deployment centers in Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris and Detroit, and use house-built lidar sensors.
  • Kohler: Introduced a ceiling mount kitchen faucet with simple touch control; Kohler whole home water monitor that mounts underneath the cabinets, in partnership with Phyn; new Innate intelligent toilet; touchless bathroom faucets; freestanding soaking bath.
  • LG Electronics: Announced next generation of LG PuriCare™ line for high-quality air management solutions; reimagined side-by-side refrigerator, including a wider window, premium interior look and Craft Ice feature; WashTower™ with convenient controls, built in intelligence and advanced cleaning; 2021 OLED evo TV lineup and QNED MiniLED TVs; CLOi UV-C Robot for disinfection; ThinQ App will transform into an open platform for lifestyle innovation.
  • Magna International: Launched a joint venture with LG Electronics to manufacture e-motors, inverters and on board chargers and related e-drive systems for certain automakers, to support the growing global shift towards vehicle electrification.
  • Mercedes-Benz: Showcased the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) Hyperscreen, which uses AI to offer a seamless driver and passenger experience.
  • OMRON Healthcare: Announced VitalSight – first remote patient monitoring service designed specifically for hypertension management. 
  • Panasonic: Announced technology partnership with Illuminarium Experiences to bring the new 360-degree immersive entertainment centers to life; launched newest OLED TV JZ2000; new Technics wireless headphones will launch later this year.
  • Philips: Discussed the Philips vision and experience in the consumer and professional health tech space and announced the Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige that is backed by SenseIQ technology and artificial intelligence to intuitively adjust to the need of the user. 
  • Samsung Electronics: Announced 4-Door Flex Bespoke refrigerator that can be customized for any kitchen; JetBot 90 AI+ uses object recognition technology and sensors to identify and classify objects and decide the best cleaning path; Eco-packaging will be used for all TV products; Galaxy Upcycling at Home program where users can decide how to repurpose the Galaxy as other convenient home devices.
  • Schneider Electric: Showcased Square D Energy Center, first-ever Square D connected light switches (X & XD range series) and Acti9 Active product, which together deliver a unique end-to-end energy management solution for homes in response to sustainability, resiliency, efficiency and personalization.
  • Skyworth: Presented 2021 TV line up for North America – five series of TVs comprised of 16 different models.
  • Sony: Introduced Airpeak, which integrates AI and robotics to enable creators to explore new heights for photo and video; shared preview of a new, immersive reality concert performance from Madison Beer to demonstrate the music showcase that will be available on Sony PlayStation VR, mobile devices, music video streaming platforms and more.
  • Taiwan Tech Arena: Previewed some of the 100 startup teams from Taiwan Tech Arena that will unveil innovation at CES 2021. Startups are divided into Smart Living, Tech for Good, Cybersecurity & Cloud Solutions, Healthcare & Wellness and Mobility Tech.
  • TCL: Announced OD Zero™ Mini-LED technology that provides viewers with a more realistic and sharper picture and allows for an ultra-thin TV profile; TCL’s first-ever Google TV; NXTPAPER tablet, TAB10s, MOVEAUDIO S600 wireless headphones, MOVETRACK Pet tracker and TCL 20 Series phones, with the 5G and SE phones available this month.

CTA’s Steve Koenig and Lesley Rohrbaugh presented 2021 Tech Trends to Watch during Media Day and gave an exclusive preview of the U.S. Consumer Technology One-Year Industry Forecast. They shared the retail sales revenue for the technology industry will reach $461 billion in the U.S. in 2021 – a 4.3% increase year-over-year. And as millions of Americans remain home and rely on tech to stay entertained, connected and healthy during the pandemic, streaming services, 5G connectivity and digital health devices will stand out in the tech sector in 2021. For more, visit CTA.tech/forecasts.

CES 2021 is taking place Jan. 11-14. 

  • Jan. 12-13: Exhibitor showcase and conference programming. 
  • Jan. 14: CES Partner Programming.
  • Access the digital venue and on demand content through Feb. 15, 2021. 

Visit the digital venue to explore CES 2021 and get live updates from the show –including keynotes, conference sessions, product announcements and show floor coverage. bt

— Source: Consumer Technology Association (CTA®)


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Fairfax County Economic Development Authority  

Select here to register  for this month’s Cyber + Cloud Virtual Career Fair.

Thursday, January 28, 2021  1:00 PM to 4:00 PM  ET

Over twenty leading technology companies and BDPA mission-partners including MicrosoftAmazon Web Services (AWS)DocuSignBAE SystemsHewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and more will be in attendance and hiring for over 5,000 combined positions. Tech professionals of all experience levels and from all locations are welcome to attend. Although BDPA Members or candidates with active security clearances are in very high demand, an active security clearance is not required to register nor attend this event.  All are welcomed,  register today.




D.C. Mayor Delivers a $4.6 Million Technology Investment with 16,400 Devices to Students

#BDPA2020 | bdpa2020.com

WASHINGTON – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Public Schools (DCPS) began delivering more than 16,400 technology devices to students across all eight wards as a part of the Empowered Learner’s Initiative. The initiative is a comprehensive three-year commitment by Mayor Bowser to close the digital divide and empower DCPS students through access to state-of-the-art technology.

“Last year, our community made clear that they wanted us to invest more in technology in our schools – and we answered that call with a $4.6 million investment in new devices for our young learners,” said Mayor Bowser. “But this investment isn’t just about buying devices – it’s about ensuring our students and teachers have the programs and resources they need to help us close the digital divide in Washington, DC.”

Last year, Mayor Bowser made an initial $4.6 million investment in technology to provide every student in grades 3, 6, and 9 with a device to use at school, and students in all other grades will have a 3:1 student-to-device ratio in the classroom. After ensuring schools had the necessary technology infrastructure and providing professional development to educators, classrooms are receiving the Microsoft Surface Go to enhance teaching and learning.

dc-tablets-farabee2020“DCPS is excited to begin delivering on our commitment to close the digital divide and empower students across the district in innovative ways,” said DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee (above left, with students). “This year, students in grades 3, 6, and 9 will receive Microsoft Surface Go’s that will enhance their learning experience and advance college and career success. I thank Mayor Bowser for her investment in the Empowered Learner’s initiative and look forward to providing even more students with access to state-of-the-art technology over the next three years.”

After students and educators tested the Microsoft Surface Go, it was selected for its agility, durability, and long-battery life. The Surface Go has a world-facing camera for video and photography, and an inking stylus for drawing and writing.

Since the beginning of the school year, teachers, technology specialists, and operations staff engaged in professional development focused on this new technology. Students are receiving digital citizenship lessons, published by Common Sense Media, to make safe and responsible decisions online.

“We want to ensure the new technology provides the best experience for students and have been testing and optimizing to make that a reality,” said DC Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Parker. “Nearly 50 technicians are trained and ready to support students and teachers the moment the devices enter the classroom and students log-in.”

Tablets For TeensThe devices will stay in the classroom so teachers can continue to use the technology to enhance their instruction. Families can expect to see their third grade students using the devices to apply the math skills they learn to control Sphero robots; high school students enrolled in credit recovery can have full access to digital resources and assessment that will help them master the course content; and teachers can provide personalized strategies to meet every student’s individual needs through both in-person and digital instruction.

Next fiscal year, Mayor Bowser plans to make another multimillion dollar investment in technology to provide a device for every student in grades 4, 7, and 10. To learn more about the devices, families can visit the District’s Empowered Learners Initiative website.

Source and photo: Office of the Mayor
Cover photo courtesy: Debbie Truong

* Resources for DCPS parents, teachers, and students are linked here.


** Related articles on BDPA-DC’s Tablets For Teens or National BDPA’s Mobile App Showcase programs are linked here.


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Apple’s free Schoolwork app now available for teachers

New Apple App Makes It Easy to Create Assignments, View Student Progress and More

CUPERTINO, CA — Apple’s Schoolwork App works alongside the Classroom app, which turns iPads — and now Macs — into a versatile teaching assistant, putting teachers in charge of the technology used in the classroom. Classroom on iPad helps teachers keep students focused on a specific app or website and lets them view student screens during class, share documents with students, assign shared iPads and even reset a student passwords.

The all-new Schoolwork app empowers teachers to take full advantage of the power and creativity of iPad to create new learning experiences for their students. Schoolwork makes it easy to create and send announcements and assignments with almost any type of content, from web links to PDFs and documents, and even specific activities in apps. Students can use Schoolwork to stay organized and keep track of the work they need to complete and when they need to hand it in.

Today, teachers may now use their new  Schoolwork apps to easily assign specific activity rights within an app to guide students or study groups directly to a related challenge or new lessons. Popular education apps including Explain Everything, Tynker, GeoGebra and Kahoot! work directly with Schoolwork to bring useful educational content with new tools to teachers using iPads.

Source/photos: Apple Inc.

 


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