America has an enormous opportunity in broadband, which, when partnered with emerging technology, has the potential to radically improve education, health care, and public safety. But, as Blair Levin and J. Erik Carr, former members of the FCC, argue today in The Washington Post, in order to take advantage the innovative possibilities, leaders must shift the thinking from how the U.S.’ broadband system compares to other nations’ and instead focus on developing our competitive advantage. With tablet textbooks, rather than bound books, students could click on hyperlinked text to learn more about a topic they don’t understand, video chat with teachers, and get immediate feedback on homework. As well, parents and teachers could be kept abreast of a student’s progress—from whether homework was completed to what topics a student deemed confusing—immediately and electronically. “Replacing textbooks with e-readers would create a platform that lets students learn as much as they can, as fast as they can,” wrote Levin and Carr. In health care, patients’ health can be monitored more efficiently and over mobile devices. But first, the National Broadband Plan, which was presented to Congress in March, needs to be discussed with a different approach, they write.
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