THE BLOG
03/17/2011 01:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mobile Broadband Key to Empowering Today's Youth to be Tomorrow's Leaders

The Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) is proud to be at the forefront of using mobile broadband to make an impression on educational advancements. Our "Learning Without Walls Program" (LearningWOW) which enables the understanding and use of today's broadband technologies by students in lower-income and underserved areas, has influenced youth to prosper both in the classroom and in their personal lives. LearningWOW's success has proven that mobile broadband services can be a crucial component in students realizing and attaining their maximum aptitude - something that is increasingly important given today's socioeconomic trends and conditions. As such, we hope that these efforts and results will be replicated - so that we can position all children to compete and excel.

At a time when our urban communities face unparalleled economic hardship, it is important that we continue to explore and employ new and innovative ways to empower students in these communities in order to ensure them a brighter future. New technologies such as mobile broadband have shown great promise as a tool to enhance student performance, literacy, and self-esteem - and should be fully-integrated in such plans as we move forward.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the African American and Latino populations at large are major beneficiaries of mobile broadband. The Internet, in general, plays a significant role in educational advancements, employment amplification and economic restoration. But mobile broadband holds particular promise for innovation on the creative front of content and also on the accessibility front for those able to utilize it. Through this technology, the African American and Latino communities are being connected to educational opportunities, career services, news and other prospective possibilities outside of their current scope.

Mary Meeker, former technology analyst for Morgan Stanley and current employee of the California Venture Capital firm Kleiner Perkins, recently released a report that highlighted the importance of the Internet and broadband to the nation's overall growth. Meeker's report shows that two of the most significant sources to lead America's growth as a leader in the global economy are education and technology.

As the old cliché saying leads, "the children are the future." If we want to compete globally, we must provide our children with the appropriate instruments and tools to build the digital economy. Unfortunately, educationally speaking, we rank 21st in the world in science literacy and 25th in math literacy. However, as LearningWOW's program has shown, broadband has an enormous potential to positively impact education. Students can access the best learning tools, books and libraries and educators through broadband. Moreover, digital textbooks are evergreen and students will always be connected to the most up-to-date educational curriculum available. This will drive a higher efficiency in student performance and better equip teachers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced the launch of the "Learning On-The-Go" wireless pilot program which will help K-12 students' connect to the Internet at home and increase their access to digital textbooks, cutting-edge interactive learning tools and other innovative wireless technologies. This project comes as a result of recommendations for the National Broadband Plan to invest in off-campus mobile Internet for students. The motive is to get more schools across the country to use mobile broadband. Through mobile devices, they believe that teachers will be able to create a curriculum that amplifies the students existing skills.

As the FCC continues to develop their "Learning On-The-Go" initiative, it's necessary that they take note of programs like ADE's LearningWOW seeing that their objectives are very similar. Working together, we can ensure that all children have access to the possibility that technology like wireless has for education and economic empowerment. It is also important that the FCC is mindful of their policy initiatives that negatively impact emerging technologies. We must ensure that the art of the possible for the future of our children is not stifled by aggressive legislation or policies that hamper positive investment in the communities that most need it.

Today's Internet has tremendous potential for possibility, it's imperative that we continue the push for universal broadband - to ensure that we realize its full potential. Particularly as it relates to, and benefits, our children who will drive us forward into the 21st Century and beyond.

To learn more about ADE's LearningWOW program, please visit: www.pdeql.org.

Julius H. Hollis is the CEO of the Alliance for Digital Equality, a non-profit organization that receives funding from a wide array of organizations including those from the telecommunications, energy and entertainment sectors.