A news item that was published in USA Today earlier this year provides an introduction to today’s post;

 “The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to begin scaling back a program designed to help low-income Americans access the internet.
 The federal Lifeline program, established in 1985, provides discounted phone and internet service in poorer communities. The FCC expanded the program to include broadband last year, and has given participating households a $9.25 per month credit to use for internet access.
 Thursday’s 3-2 party line vote means one piece of the program will change immediately, and lays the ground work to alter or kill other pieces.
 The commission will almost immediately limit a $25 extra subsidy for homes situated anywhere on Tribal lands to rural areas only. The benefit is applied on top of the $9.25 subsidy already offered by the program.”

Why is home internet access important?

An article (“The Participation Gap/A Conversation with media expert and MIT Professor Henry Jenkins”) and published by the National Education Association, tells us:

What is the “participation gap” and how does it relate to the digital divide?
 The participation gap takes it to the next level. When developing cultural competencies, there is a big difference between having access only in a library or at school. There’s a huge gap between what students with 24/7 broadband access can do and what students can do when their only access is through the public library or a school computer lab, where there are often time limits on how long they can work, when there are filters blocking access to certain sites, and when there are limits on their ability to store, download and upload material. This leads to a gap in skills and competencies.”

Similarly, The Washington Post has reported that,  “.  .  . we are now confronted with the “participation gap,” as explained by Dr. Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California.

“.  .  . There’s a huge gap between what you can do when you’ve got unlimited access to broadband in your home and what you can do when your only access is through the public library, where there are often time limits on how long you can work, when there are already federally mandated filters blocking access to certain sites, when there are limits on your ability to store and upload material, and so forth.”

Dr. Jenkins has summarized the issue, “Those with home access have a big advantage because they’ll have ample time to develop social networking, research and other skills necessary to succeed later on.”

We must never forget that economic disparity, combined with a lack of home internet access, keeps the opportunity-playing field from being level.  After correcting the fraud issues that have plagued it, the federal Lifeline program must be maintained and improved. 

As a nation “equal opportunity” is at our core.

More on Monday  –  –  –

  — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

          December 13, 2017

      www.itclearning.com/blog/  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


(This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner, jhbillwalton@gmail.com, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)