Transforming Higher Education through Broadband: Maximizing the Opportunities Verizon Communications

28 September 2011 - A Workshop on Access in Nairobi, Kenya

Agenda

Maximizing the value and impact of broadband on education, and in particular higher education, is a fundamentally important issue for the next generation of any country or region. Broadband access,and the opportunities for the youth and the next generations, are an essential element of the future of the information and knowledge society as well as national economic and social development. The recent landings of undersea cables and investment in fiber and wireless broadband infrastructures position the East Africa region well to lead in transforming higher education and research institutions through broadband and fixed and mobile access to the Internet.
This workshop will build on the East Africa ICT & Higher Education Symposium, held 28-29 June 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. That multistakeholder event, the first of its kind, brought together representatives from five East African governments, universities, industry, non-governmental organizations and other ICT and educational and research experts. In line with the IGF 2011 theme of “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation”, this workshop will focus on the changes anticipated in higher education, the experiences to date including challenges faced and opportunities learned. The workshop will also seek to identify and address practical issues and opportunities universities face as they ready themselves to take full advantage of broadband connectivity.

 

 

A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised:
Ms. Kathryn Brown, Senior Vice President - Public Policy Development & Corporate Responsibility, Verizon, moderated the event. Panelists for the workshop were: Permanent Secretary, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Ministry of Information and Communication, Kenya; Professor Mark Olweny, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Uganda Martyrs University (UMU); Ms. Walda Roseman, Chief Operating Officer, Internet Society; Professor Meoli Kashorda, Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET); Mr. James Saaka, Executive Director, National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U); Ms. Sylvia Mulinge, General Manager Enterprise Business Unit, Safaricom. The Remote Moderator was Luca Belli, ISOC Ambassador and the Rapporteur was Professor Meoli Kashorda.
The workshop built on the East Africa ICT & Higher Education Symposium, held 28-29 June 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. That multistakeholder event brought together representatives from five East African governments, universities, industry, non-governmental organizations and other ICT and educational and research experts.
In line with the 2011 IGF theme of “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation”, this workshop focused on changes anticipated in higher education and experiences to date including challenges and opportunities learned. It also addressed practical issues and opportunities universities face as they ready themselves to take full advantage of broadband connectivity.
Participants covered a range of issues, including: the importance of higher education and broadband for the next generation, economic growth, innovation and job creation; the use of consortiums among universities and research networks to increase access to broadband in an affordable fashion; and the challenges of transforming how universities and research institutes use broadband connectivity in teaching, learning and research. On transforming how universities and research institutes use broadband, participants noted that it will take time to change the way in which teaching and learning occurs to fully benefit from broadband access. Some challenges identified include: the development of content for curriculum, including the availability of digitized content; the training of faculty and researchers to provide and use materials online; affordable devices and equipment to enable access to content; and equipment and reallocation of resources to strengthen the IT departments of universities and the overall campus network broadband ecosystem. New opportunities are also emerging through the use of cloud technologies to broaden the availability of information and mobile devices to enable remote access including for those with disabilities.

 

Conclusions and further comments:
Broadband and higher education provide important opportunities for the generations of today and tomorrow. Strengthening university and research networks, partnerships among universities for access and educational information sharing, and benefiting from new opportunities to enable remote access to education are all elements to address in looking at strengthening the broadband and higher education ecosystem.