Today, I had the opportunity to be part of a panel at the Inter-County Broadband Network Community Anchor Symposium focused on the ICBN and Education (namely how the bandwidth made available by the ICBN project will impact K-12 and higher education). Dr. Darla Strouse, Executive Director for the Office of Partnerships and Development at the Maryland State Department of Education, moderated the panel: How Broadband Works for Education. There were 4 of us on the panel: Kevin Giffhorn (Math Chair at Liberty High School in Carol County and Author of Technology Software), Christy Rogers (duration Solutions Specialist with SMART Technologies), Julie Wray (Coordinator for Instructional Technology for Howard County Public Schools), and myself.
We began the discussion talking about how the growth of broadband and technology will impact the K-12 classroom. We moved on to talk about the changing role of teachers in this new configuration. The discussion emphasized the importance of good professional development for teachers. We talked about some of the challenges that we see in integrating technology in schools and classrooms, what quality online instruction looks like, and the possible role of online instruction in the K-12 setting in the future (K12 Inc). Of course, we also discussed the issue of access and how increased access might assist in parent involvement.
I was happy to hear so much emphasis placed on the importance of professional development in supporting teachers and other instructional specialists, in addition to taking a look at pre-service education and the changes that need to take place in the college and university programs that are preparing our current and future teachers (and learned about the Teachers of Promise Foundation). We closed the session talking a bit out the future of partnerships with businesses and the community (i.e.: virtual speakers; virtual field trips).
It was such a neat experience to be a part of this panel discussion. Dr. Darla Strouse brought up some great points and it was exciting to see the vision for Maryland moving forward!
“The Inter-County Broadband Network in conjunction with the One Maryland Broadband Network (OMBN), will help establish a single high-speed broadband network that will provide every county in the State of Maryland with the critical high-tech infrastructure it needs for decades to come. By the time it is completed in 2013, ICBN will connect more than 700 community anchor institutions—from K-12 schools and libraries to public safety facilities and community centers—across central Maryland. As a key part of the OMBN, ICBN will connect to hundreds of additional anchor institutions in others parts of the state.
The ICBN Community Anchor Symposium presents an important opportunity for representatives of the anchor institutions that will be connected to the network to learn the practical benefits of ICBN, and what it will mean to their organizations and the citizens they serve.
Throughout the day, from the large panel discussions to small breakout opportunities, participants will benefit from the insights of national, state and locally recognized panelists and keynote speakers from a range of disciplines.”