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Democrats & Liberals



A multiple-editor weblog dedicated to providing news, opinion and commentary for American politics, particularly from the vantage point of the Democratic Party and liberals.



Last Build Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:27:00 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2017 by the authors
 



Educators Argue That Repealing Net Neutrality Could Hurt the American Education System​

Mon, 29 May 2017 17:25:00 GMT

Over the past few weeks, individuals across the country have been wondering about what the future holds for the Obama-era regulations that protect access to an open internet, more commonly referred to as "net neutrality." Last week, in a partisan split, conservative members of the FCC voted to repeal these protections. The 2015 legislation prevents internet providers from controlling what people can watch and see online, and also makes it punishable for companies like Comcast, At&T and Verizon to control access to websites or apps or adjust loading speeds to sites that their users visit. For those in the government sector, it's become one of the most fundamental concerns occurring in politics today. One particular group of people who are worried about the possible repeal of net neutrality are educators, who increasingly rely on technology and the web to better engage with their students. Many are wondering whether or not today's repeal vote could dramatically impact the education system overall. "One of the key elements of the internet is that it provides immediate access to a huge range of high-quality resources that are really useful to teachers," Richard Cullatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education told NPR. "But when carriers can choose to prioritize paid content over freely available content, schools really are at risk." Clearly, this has the potential to impact students of all ages, but perhaps most at risk are students who rely on technology and the internet to advance in their degree programs — namely those in online degree programs. Arizona State University professor Heather Ross is one such university faculty member who is worried about the impact that this week's vote could have on university education. "ASU joins many other universities around the world in offering online educational opportunities so that students can start, continue and complete their education at all levels, wherever they happen to live or whatever their life circumstances," Ross writes. As one of the most innovative universities in the nation, ASU has provided opportunities for students to learn regardless of their schedule, or physical location, and was an early adopter of online learning. "Personally, I have had the privilege of teaching students who are actively deployed in the military, who have kept up with their education by using online resources," Ross continues. "For online students, a slow-down in internet speeds or even blockage of certain sites can impede their ability to access videos, audio recordings, live-streamed lectures and interactive discussions that make online learning feasible and effective. In effect, losing net neutrality has the potential to limit or restrict the content that online students can access, which can slow down their ability to learn and complete their coursework." But it's not just college students that might suffer under the current administration's proposed policies. As 5th grade teacher Molly Fuller reported to NPR yesterday, the internet is equally effective in teaching struggling students how to master courses that they may be struggling in. "They can play math-based computer games, or see a digital diagram of a math problem broken down," she expresses. In addition, Fuller notes that she uses the web to teach her students how to differentiate between good sources and bad sources — a skill that's becoming more valuable in today's electorate. "We're trying to teach them those real-world skills," Fuller argues. In repealing these regulations, she notes, "it's really going to hinder their ability to learn." According to a recent piece by Klint Finley for Wired, those who are taking less formal classes could also be affected. His recent op-ed highlights the story of Nichole Williams, who needed to expand her programming skills in order to stay relevant in her career field. She did so by signing up for Thinkful, an online-education startup that pairs students for one-on-one educators and mentors who use video-chat to c[...]