Over at Rolling Out, our Co-Chairman Jamal Simmons has a piece on how technology can help lead to healthier lives, particularly in minority communities. Here’s a taste:
Broadband Internet access, especially mobile broadband, can go a long way in terms of achieving the goals of improved health care access and affordability. According to comScore, smartphone ownership is at 54 percent in the U.S. That’s a lot of iPhones and Androids in the pockets of Americans across the map, and when it comes to health care information, Pew Research reports more than half (52 percent) of the people owning these gadgets report using them to access health or medical information.
Here’s something interesting for your Friday. At GigaOm, Laura Hazard Owen writes about a research project aimed at predicting the future:
Researchers at Microsoft and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are creating software that analyzes 22 years of New York Times archives, Wikipedia and about 90 other web resources to predict future disease outbreaks, riots and deaths — and hopefully prevent them.
The new research is the latest in a number of similar initiatives that seek to mine web data to predict all kinds of events. Recorded Future, for instance, analyzes news, blogs and social media to “help identify predictive signals” for a variety of industries, including financial services and defense. Researchers are also using Twitter and Google to track flu outbreaks.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, won’t be running for another term. At Broadcasting & Cable, John Eggerton writes about the senator’s long-standing focus on technology:
Rockefeller has been one of the strongest voices for online privacy, a cybersecurity bill backed by the White House, inquiries into the impact of TV, online and video game content on kids, and was instrumental in legislation to auction broadcast spectrum to help pay for an interoperable 911 emergency communications network.
CES is an absolute avalanche of tech. Simply keeping up with the various announcements and news reports can be a challenge. But as someone very much interested in both education and technology — and where they often cross paths for the good of society — I wanted to highlight an app showcased during the convention earlier this week. It’s called “Big Bird’s Words,” and comes courtesy of Qualcomm and the Sesame Workshop. At Fast Company, Anya Kamenetz has a good description of the app:
Big Bird’s Words lets kids use their parents’ phone to scan the world around them for printed words. Big Bird then helps them learn to read by sounding out the first letter. (“You found the word Milk! It starts with the letter M.”)
Beyond the cool factor, Big Bird’s Words is yet another example of how technology is turning the traditional idea of learning on its head. This is something we touched on last summer in our “Back to School With Broadband” seminar (archive here), and the fact that Big Bird’s Words made its debut during Qualcomm’s keynote address at CES shows the collision of technology and education, specifically in the mobile space, is only heating up.
That makes ensuring broadband access all the more important. Not just by wiring schools, although that’s critical, but expanding the reach of mobile broadband. To get there will take investment — particularly in next-generation IP-based networks that can handle the constant deluge of data. It will also take a commitment from both the government and industry to make achieving the goal a high priority. If Big Bird’s onboard, we all should be.
GigaOm’s Ki Mae Heussner writes about some new education technology McGraw-Hill debuted at CES. Called the “SmartBook,” it’s an ebook aimed at adapting to a student. As Heussner writes:
Content is still structured somewhat like a textbook but instead of asking students to read it thoroughly from start to finish, it coaches the student on how to read the material and quizzes them on various concepts as they move through each section. Depending on their responses, they’re guided along to different highlighted passages. McGraw-Hill said it expects to release SmartBooks at prices starting at $19.99 for about 90 courses later this Spring.
Via Patricia Reaney of Reuters, a new report sheds like on how mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are affecting education:
Smartphones were used at home for schoolwork by 39 percent of 11 to 14 year olds, 31 percent of those surveyed said they did assignments on a tablet while nearly 65 percent used laptops, the poll by research firm TRU, which specializes in data on tweens, teens and twenty-somethings, showed.
For more on technology and education, check out our “Back to School with Broadband” webinar from August.
In an op-ed for Sunday’s Washington Post, Kwame Simmons — Principal of Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C. and recent participant in our education-focused webinar — wrote about how his school has embraced technology in an effort to better educate kids:
At the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, Kramer logged barely double-digit scores on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS): 17 percent proficient in reading and 26 percent proficient in math. The school had a much-warranted bull’s-eye on its back. But after a year of planning and a three-year School Improvement Grant and two-year Race to the Top grant from the U.S. Education Department, we have high hopes for change. Our secret weapon and education equalizer? Broadband.
Kramer is the first school in the district to implement a new program that is predicted to elevate student engagement and drastically improve test scores. The grant funding has increased the number of laptops available for use in our classrooms, so that we now have a one-to-one student-to-laptop scenario at Kramer, a rare gift in the field of education.
That one-to-one student-to-laptop scenario Simmons mentions is impressive — and important. With school districts increasingly facing cutbacks and growing class sizes, technology like laptops and tablets — and the next-generation networks that power them — can unlock opportunities once out of reach and help students succeed. That’s something we should all be behind, but as Simmons goes on to note, the country still has a ways to go:
Unfortunately, this isn’t the norm in our country. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan, only 37 percent of all teachers reported having electronic access to achievement data for students in their classrooms. Building out reliable broadband access must remain a national priority.
Simmons then touched on something we here at IIA have long focused on. Namely, the need for more investment in broadband:
I’m highly committed to proving him wrong and hitting our goal of boosting test scores by 40 percentage points in five years. As we closely monitor the progress at Kramer, let’s encourage the public and private sectors to invest in the networks that make online learning possible. Broadband is the bridge that will connect D.C. Public Schools’ goals to reality.
Check out Simmons’ full op-ed at the Washington Post. You can also listen to an archive of our education webinar featuring Simmons here.
This week, the New York Times’ popular “Digital Doctor” feature is focused on how technology is affecting health care. From a piece on apps and iPads penned by Katie Hafner:
The history of medicine is defined by advances born of bioscience. But never before has it been driven to this degree by digital technology.
The proliferation of gadgets, apps and Web-based information has given clinicians — especially young ones like Dr. Rajkomar, who is 28 — a black bag of new tools: new ways to diagnose symptoms and treat patients, to obtain and share information, to think about what it means to be both a doctor and a patient.
The ongoing series, which has also tackled telemedicine, electronic medical records, and even computer-designed teeth — is worth checking out.
Recently, Google launched a portal making it easy for Americans to register to vote. But according to Gregory Ferenstein of TechCrunch, the good-faith effort may not have the desired effect:
[E]xperimental research into the impact of such online registration systems finds that they actually decrease registration. Apparently, the ease of the online process lulls citizens into complacency and they forget to follow through with the rest of the process. The unfortunate drawback can be offset with SMS reminders, which TurboVote encourages. So, depending on the number of people comfortable giving Google their digits, this well-intentioned experiment could backfire.
This weekend, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan was named Mitt Romney’s VP pick. Over at TechCrunch, Gregory Ferenstein examines Ryan’s history when it comes to tech:
Ryan’s voting record has supported better access to high skilled immigrants, an open Internet, crowdfunding for startups, and intellectual property reform. However, his ambiguous stance on net neutrality and proposal to cut science funding leaves a noticeable scuff on his otherwise sterling record.
A new report finds that when it comes to investing in the U.S., tech companies are leading the pack. As Josh Smith of Tech Daily Dose reports:
AT&T and Verizon top a list of 25 major companies investing in the United States, according to a report released by the Progressive Policy Institute.
The think tank named its top 25 “investment heroes” that are spending resources domestically.The list of non-financial companies also includes tech and telecom giants such as Intel, IBM, Comcast, Time Warner, Sprint, Google, and Apple.
Ryan Kim of GigaOm reports that New York City has started to make the innovative shift from payphones to Wi-Fi hotspots:
The hotspots are initially coming to ten payphones in three of the boroughs and will be open to the public to access for free. You can see a list of sites here. Users just agree to the terms, visit the city’s tourism website and then they’re up and running. Currently, there are no ads on the service, but there could be in the future.
The effort is part of the city’s larger goal of providing more digital inclusion for residents. And it’s also aimed at helping figure out the future of the city’s payphones, which are a source of complaints from many residents because they attract crime or are just plain ugly.
Over at GigaOm, Om Malik poses an interesting question: Given the power of today’s smartphones — fueled by innovative tech and the power of mobile broadband — is it time to stop calling them phones all together? As Malik writes:
We spend about 11 minutes a day on email, 10.2 minutes on text messaging and when you total it all up, we stare at our smartphones for a whopping 128 minutes.
That’s a whole lot of a staring at a device we used to mainly use for talking.
“Mobile Network Design and Deployment: How Incumbent Operators Plan for Technology Upgrades and Related Spectrum Needs” is a paper released last week by engineer Peter Rysavy. In it, he examines the lengthy process wireless providers go through to locate new spectrum and put it to use:
Managing wireless networks is a complex process that must balance infrastructure investment with service revenues, capacity with demand, and that must optimally time the deployment of new technologies. Part of this balancing act is acquiring and deploying radio spectrum. Spectrum can neither be immediately acquired, nor can it be immediately deployed. Instead, operators have to phase it into their networks in conjunction with the right technology at the right time over periods that span many years. The fact that operators may have idle spectrum at specific points in time does not mean that they don’t need it, and it does not mean that they don’t intend to use it.
Last week, Microsoft announced Surface, its tablet competitor to Apple’s dominant iPad. This week, another tech giant is looking to make a splash with a device of its own. Via Luke Hopewell of Gizmodo:
As rumoured, Google’s going to announce a 7-inch, Nexus-branded tablet called the Nexus 7. According to the leak, it’s built by Asus, with a 1.3Ghz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, GeForce 12-core GPU and 1GB of RAM with two different storage variants: 8GB and 16GB.
The Nexus tablet will also feature NFC and run Google Wallet (probably only in the US) and Android Beam.
According to Gizmodo, the device will start at just $199.
Just a decade ago, an Internet user rarely had to do more than enter a simple, easy-to-remember e-mail password, recycling it for every online account. But as our dependency on the Internet has grown, so has the complexity of its restrictions.
The end result: a mind-boggling array of personal codes squirreled away in computer files, scribbled on Post-it notes or simply lost in the ether. Virtually any online user without a computer science degree now seems to be one failed login attempt away from a nervous breakdown.
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