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Copyright Lawrence K. Grossman, Newton N. Minow and Anne G. Murphy, This work is the intellectual property of the authors. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the author. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the author.
A Digital Gift to the Nation Lawrence K. Grossman Newton N. Minow
The Proposal The federal government should establish an independent educational trust fund to meet the urgent need to transform learning in the 21st Century -- The Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT). This trust will be financed by revenue from auctions, licensing, or fees generated by publicly owned spectrum. The purpose of DOIT is to spur innovative uses for technology to enhance education, training, lifelong learning, and support new educational models and prototypes. To do for education in its broadest sense what NSF does for science, NIH does for health and DARPA does for defense.
Background Once each century, during a time of national crisis, our country has made a bold investment in transforming education. Once each century, during a time of national crisis, our country has made a bold investment in transforming education.
18 th Century: The Northwest Ordinance set aside land for the creation of public schools. For the first time, education was made available to the average child. 19 th Century: Congress passed and President Lincoln signed into law Justin Morrill’s proposal to set aside land for every state to sell in order to create the Land Grant Colleges. 20 th Century: The GI Bill offered opportunities for higher learning to millions of Americans. They went to college and helped propel the US and its economy to worldwide leadership.
The 21st Century Our emerging knowledge-based economy makes the people’s access to knowledge and learning across a lifetime in the sciences and humanities a national imperative. Public education must be transformed to meet the fast changing technological challenges of the new century. Our libraries, museums, universities, schools and cultural organizations need to be brought into the digital age so they can educate citizens to become part of the informed citizenry our democracy relies upon. Our workers need retraining to keep pace with the changing workplace.
The Need and the Opportunity In this Information Age, the nation needs a major initiative for research and development in teaching, training, and learning. Through simulations, digitization, and virtual reality, today’s advanced digital technologies can open the door to a knowledge-based economy for all Americans, as well as for people throughout the world.
The Internet and Education We spend over $2 billion a year connecting classrooms to the Internet, but almost nothing on educational content, and too little on educational research and development.
DO IT is essential for: Education: America must make a new investment in education and research and development for all citizens if we are to remain competitive in the new global knowledge-based economy. We also need to develop a structure for delivery of training materials to workers in all fields.
DO IT is essential for: Jobs: America is losing jobs to workers overseas because we don’t have a competitive, national Information Technology training infrastructure. Security: America is no longer in a position to play “catch up” with education and training for people of all ages.
and DO IT is essential for: Life-long Learning: America must provide every opportunity for our growing population of senior citizens to remain productive, contributing members of society. Democracy: Democracy thrives when an educated citizenry has access to information and the critical thinking skills to make informed choices.
Types of Projects the Trust will fund: Visualization, Modeling, and Simulation that could enable students to learn by doing, to better understand difficult or abstract concepts, and apply what they learn in real-world contexts. Virtual worlds that could offer sophisticated content and challenging activities that, like popular communications media, engage and stimulate individuals for significant amounts of time.
The Trust will fund... Intelligent Tutoring Systems that could assess individual student strengths, weaknesses, and mastery of subject material; generate instruction material tailored to the progress of an individual student; serve as an “expert” in a subject matter area; and use a variety of pedagogical approaches – explanations, guided learning, and coaching among others. Large Scale Digital Libraries and Online Museums that could offer a fascinating array of multimedia information and digital artifacts for student, teacher and scholarly use, and for building engaging curricula and learning experiences for all, no matter where they live, work, or attend school.
The Trust will also fund: Distributed Learning and Collaboration that could provide learners with unparalleled opportunities for access to courses globally that integrate rich multi-media curriculum, expert instruction, and peer collaboration. Learning management tools that could help students, teachers and other education professionals better manage learning opportunities, assignments, and tasks, scheduling analyses of individual student performance, interventions of teachers and other education professionals, teacher-parent communications, student account management, and student portfolios.
Overcoming existing barriers: The Trust will: fund much-needed research and development in the areas of information technology, software design, the process of cognition, learning and memory. encourage the digitization of America’s libraries, museums, universities and other scientific and cultural repositories to preserve the foundations of American history and learning, and to develop the most comprehensive learning experiences for the future.
Overcoming existing barriers: The Trust will also: serve as a center for national leadership and coordination among business, university and Federal initiatives in these areas which are currently operating without meaningful coordination or integration.
What Others are Saying
United States Commission on National Security Former Sens. Hart and Rudman, Chairs “The inadequacies of our systems of research and education pose a greater threat to U.S. national security over the next quarter century than any potential conventional war we might imagine.”
George Lucas Creator, Star Wars DO IT “will help fully realize the potential of the Internet and digital technologies for the education of all Americans.”
Phillip J. Bond Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology “We need to…create a new ‘knowledge utility’ for all, which integrates learning into all aspects of our work and our lives, making learning opportunities as ubiquitous as electricity for everybody, from pre- schooler to the retiree.”
James H. Billington Librarian of Congress “[We] are energized and excited by the prospect of working with you…”
Sheila P. Burke Under Secretary American Museums and National Programs Smithsonian Institution "On behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, I am happy to express support for the recommendations contained in a Digital Gift to the Nation…"
Cato Institute “A better idea is to simply return those billions of dollars to taxpayers….in the end, it’s just more socialist snake oil that rejects free markets and consumer choice.” “A better idea is to simply return those billions of dollars to taxpayers….in the end, it’s just more socialist snake oil that rejects free markets and consumer choice.”
Business Week “Most of America’s 53 million children in K-12 still attend schools designed for the industrial, if not the agrarian era.”
Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman “The combination of education and research may be the most powerful capability the nation can nurture in times of stress and uncertainty.” “A visitor from 1900 would feel totally out of place in our greatly changed world, except in one environment. In our classrooms we are still teaching in ways designed in the nineteenth century.”
President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee “Our overarching recommendation is to make the effective integration of information technology with education and training a national priority.”
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, (Chairman, U.S. Conference of Mayors, explaining its resolution endorsing DO IT) “We must develop a creative vision for generating the resources necessary for innovation… We spend shamefully little to provide education- worthy content for the Internet to distribute; content that can help teachers and significantly enhance education, training, and learning… Even in this age of networking, teachers and their students still remain locked into their classrooms… without the remarkable new tools and programs that can assist and enhance learning."
Congressional Black Caucus Congressman Major Owens (D. New York) “In presenting our ‘Tech Champion Award’ to the Digital Promise Project, I want to cite its vision and its potential to transform communities.”
Funding In the emerging information economy, there is no more valuable public asset than the airwaves, also known as the electromagnetic spectrum. Congress mandated the FCC to conduct auctions for new licenses to use the electromagnetic spectrum. These auctions and other fees are expected to generate many billions of dollars.
In past centuries, we used proceeds from public land to fund public education. This century, we should use the proceeds from publicly-owned spectrum sales to help transform education for generations of Americans. This could amount to $20 billion for the trust. Funding
These monies, invested in Government notes and bonds, would generate income of $1billion per year. The Trust would make available grants and contracts that meet the priorities and criteria established by the Board of the Trust. Funding
Is This For Real? The DOIT idea emerged – “A Digital Gift to the Nation” was published – Senate and House introduced DOIT legislation Spectrum hearings began. Spectrum hearings began – Congress votes its first appropriation for DOIT ($750,000).
What’s next: The House Commerce Committee will announce hearings to be held in late May or early June. The Senate Commerce Committee may consider a bill that will set up a Trust to reimburse the military and other Federal agencies for expenses incurred in moving to new bands on the spectrum.
What you can do: Send letters to Members of Congress (a draft is on our website: digitalpromise.org). digitalpromise.org Help us spread the word by: Hosting a regional meeting Joining our media awareness campaign by drafting a Letter to the Editor or an Op ed. Sign up to receive our newsletter. Visit our website to stay informed.
Leadership Council Maxwell L. Anderson, Director Whitney Museum of American Art Morton Bahr, President Communications Workers of America Ellsworth Brown, President Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh & Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Eamon Kelly, Former President National Science Board and President Emeritus of Tulane University Donald N. Langenberg, Chancellor Emeritus University System of Maryland Leon Lederman, Nobel Laureate in Physics and Director Emeritus of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory George Lucas, Chairman The George Lucas Educational Foundation Martin E. Segal, Chairman Emeritus Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts The Hon. Paul Simon, Director, Public Policy Institute Southern Illinois University Charles M. Vest, President M.I.T. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice-President for Technology and Strategy, IBM
Digital Promise Leadership Coalition O rganizations actively engaged in the support of DOIT: American Arts Alliance American Association of Museums American Council on Education American Educational Research Association American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO Americans for the Arts American Library Association Association of American Universities Association of Art Museum Directors Association of Independent Technological Universities Association of Public Television Stations Association of Research Libraries Communication Workers of America, AFL- CIO Consortium for School Networking Digital Library Federation EDUCAUSE Federation of American Scientists George Lucas Educational Foundation International Longevity Center National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges National Education Association National Humanities Alliance National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH) New America Foundation U.S. Conference of Mayors
We need your help in making this real. We hope you will join us. TOGETHER WE CAN DO IT.
For information on DOIT events and current developments visit