Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New York City comes together to bridge the digital divide with online home learning

In an effort to bridge the digital divide and bring equity and access to children across New York City, a partnership has been forged between the city agencies including NYC Department of Education, the Mayor’s office, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), with operational partners including Computers for Youth, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Teaching Matters, AUSSIE, City University of New York, MOUSE and Common Sense Media. Corporate sponsors include Microsoft and Intel.

These partners have come together to provide more than 18,000 students and their families with free computers and discounted broadband access as part of the NYC Connected Learning Initiative which is funded by a $22 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award from the US Department of Commerce. With an additional $5.9 million from the City and a range of generous partners, the program will provide comprehensive training, curriculum and classroom technology support to all participating schools, helping teachers and school leaders to facilitate on-line learning at home and in school.

With the goals of improving student achievement and boosting broadband adoption among low-income New Yorkers, NYC Connected Learning aims to fundamentally improve the educational experience of middle school students across the city by providing access to on-line educational resources at home and in school, offering digital literacy training, and in turn strengthening the connection between school and home-based learning.

What the research says.
Research supports the NYC Connected Learning program model. Educational studies have shown that the home learning environment and increased parental involvement improves student achievement. Additionally, a recent US Department of Education study has shown that on-line learning and blended instruction – a combination of in-classroom and on-line – teaching can be more effective than face-to-face instruction. A 2006-7 City study showed that low-income NYC residents lag far behind their middle- and higher-income counterparts in home broadband adoption rates, due to multiple factors, including affordability of service and/or computer equipment, lack of digital literacy skills, and the perception that broadband adoption is not valuable. NYC Connected Learning is a holistic solution that confronts all these obstacles to broadband adoption simultaneously, increasing digital inclusion in the communities that need it the most.

Here’s a little about each of the program partners:
• The National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce is the primary funder through a $22 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant
•The NYC DOE Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT) of the DOE and DoITT are leading program oversight and management.
•Computers for Youth (CFY) is the lead partner in extending learning to home. CFY is working closely with partner schools to offer all their sixth grade families free desktop computers pre-loaded with CFY-approved educational software; bilingual family learning workshops to enhance the confidence of parents as learning partners and to inform them about the deeply broadband discounts; and a help desk available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
•Teaching Matters and AUSSIE are leading the teacher training program for participating schools with CFY providing initial teacher training.
• MOUSE and City University of New York (CUNY) will provide resources and training to establish student-led tech support help desks, providing essential technical support and a powerful 21st century learning experience for students.
•Common Sense Media is providing curriculum, training and support around a digital citizenship curriculum to use the Internet and social networking tools safely and appropriately.
• Microsoft and Intel are corporate sponsors of the NYC Connected Learning program.
•Time Warner Cable and Cablevision are the exclusive broadband partners in the NYC Connected Learning program.

Here’s what some of the program partners are saying about this program.
“NYC Connected Learning puts the power of technology – the single best tool for thriving in an increasingly competitive world – in the hands of New Yorkers who need it most,” said DoITT Commissioner Carole Post. “Today’s announcement represents a milestone in the City’s comprehensive efforts to increase public access to broadband technologies through public computer centers, school programs, and expansion of WiFi in public places.”

“In today’s economy, if you don’t have access to a computer and high-speed Internet you are cut off from many educational and job opportunities,” said Anna M. Gomez, Deputy Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “By investing in this project, we are helping both students and their parents gain the skills and tools needed to fully participate in the digital economy.”

“This initiative establishes New York City as one of the few U.S. cities targeting students’ total learning environment,” said Elisabeth Stock, CEO and Co-Founder of Computers for Youth. “What is so clever about this program is that it supports the adults who are most vital to student success – parents and teachers – while at the same time bolstering students in their ability to be self-directed learners, a key component of college readiness.”

“For Time Warner Cable, providing at-risk students with free or discounted broadband service represents a fresh approach to bridging the digital divide and brings New York City’s disenfranchised young people an even playing field to prepare for their futures. From the beginning of this process, we have been passionate about being a partner with the NYC Department of Education and Computers for Youth and understand that having home access to the Internet along with the proper equipment and resources will have a long lasting and positive impact on thousands of young adults,” said Harriet Novet of Time Warner Cable’s East Region/NYC.

“Cablevision is pleased to support this important initiative with NYC Connected Learning by helping to make access to broadband more affordable for New York City students and their families,” said Trent Anderson, Cablevision's Vice President of Education. “To ensure that the computers received by these families deliver as much value as possible, Cablevision is proud to provide the same award-winning Optimum Online high-speed Internet service used by millions of residential and business customers across our service area to these families at a significantly discounted rate.”

Lynette Guastaferro, Executive Director of Teaching Matters, a nonprofit focused on innovation in the classroom, added that the NYC Connected Learning initiative is an ideal way to ensure student success in the digital age. “The project engages students more fully in their educational progress and joins teachers with parents as active partners in their children’s learning. We are proud to be contributing our professional development expertise to help schools provide 21st century learning environments for New York City students now and well into the future.”

“We are honored to work in partnership with NYC on the Connected Learning program,” says Dr. Victor Aluise, President of AUSSIE Digital School Solutions, an Editure Company. “AUSSIE consultants are working side-by-side school leaders and teachers to help students become true 21st century learners by best utilizing technology in school and at home. Having high speed access at home – linked to a home learning computer – enables students to ‘power up’ at home and continue their class work, as they become global creators of real-world digital projects.”

“For the last decade we have worked to support the information technology needs of city agencies by helping agencies find quality interns from among CUNY’s computing majors. Through these internships, CUNY students are afforded the chance to apply and further develop their IT skills and gain real-world experience upon which to build their professional careers while simultaneously serving New York City. CUNY is honored to be able to support the schools and families involved in the NYC Connected Learning Program,” said Ted Brown, Executive Director, CUNY Institute for Software Design and Development.

“MOUSE firmly believes in the use of technology to empower students with life and learning skills essential for success in their education and careers,” stated Carole Wacey, Executive Director, MOUSE. “We are thrilled to have our MOUSE Squad students play a valued technical support role in the innovative NYC Connected Learning Program, in which partners support educational opportunities for students and their families – in the classroom and at home.”

“Common Sense Media is excited to be a part of the NYC Connected Learning Initiative and to work with the New York City Department of Education to equip students to behave thoughtfully, respectfully, and safely in their digital lives,” said Linda Burch, the Chief Education and Strategy Officer of Common Sense Media. “Giving young people the access, knowledge and technical skills to harness the power of new media is paramount, but so is teaching them to think critically and behave responsibly in this fast-paced digital world. A quality digital literacy and citizenship education for all kids is an essential foundation of a 21st century workforce and society, and New York students and families will have a strong foundation because of NYC Connected Learning.”

“Microsoft is excited to partner with the New York City DOE and its schools to put technology in the hands of underprivileged students and their families, ensuring they have access to learning resources anytime and anywhere,” said Sig Behrens, General Manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp. “We believe access to technology is a critical enabler that should be made available to all children and their families in order to obtain a top quality education. By partnering with the NYC DOE and providing the software, we hope to inspire lifelong learning and help prepare today’s students for the skills they will need tomorrow to be successful in college and their careers.”

“Access to technology is a critical element in getting students college and career-ready. We applaud the innovative effort by the NYC DOE and their partners to increase access and extend the learning experience from the classroom to the home,” said Dr. Eileen Lento, Manager of Intel’s Education Sector.

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