FCC Chairman visits Oakland Unified

The visit by Chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, to Edna Brewer in Oakland Unified School District was a treat for all involved.

Chairman Tom Wheeler and Stephanie Travaille observe Blended Learning
Chairman Tom Wheeler and Stephanie Travaille observe Blended Learning

The Chairman first visited several Blended Learning classrooms each with a Chromebook cart and a wireless access point. He was very impressed with what he saw: engaged students, personalized learning, and excellent teaching that was more of the “guide on the side, rather than sage on the stage” – an analogy he seemed to like. His selected “ah ha” moments included that blended, personalized learning brings the teaching from the front of the class, to the desk, and to the home and that the blended model seems to make large classes feel smaller.

Teaching Google Drive

Besides observing, Chairman Wheeler did panel discussions with students and staff. Both groups told him that learning, individualized instruction, and engagement have improved since implementing Chromebooks in the classroom. They gave him specific examples of the advantages of using online tools such as Google Drive, Schoology, and Achieve 3000. He appreciated the role of Rodgers Family Foundation in funding this pilot and the fact that we are taking the model district-wide.

The Chairman spoke of how President Obama has charged him with improving internet access in ALL schools in the nation down to the classroom and student experience. He liked how the OUSD Technology Plan draft matches the President’s goal of every school to have 100 Megabits/second in the short term and 1 Gigabit in the near future.

In sum, he mentioned that what he saw inspires him to exceed the President’s goal.