August 6th, 2010 in Broadband, E-Learning

Making Online Education More Social

“The three-quarters of 18 to 29 year-olds who have profiles on social networks are likely wondering why online course offerings aren’t nearly as enticing as the content that they find on their favorite social websites.”

Social media is everywhere. Now your parents are on Facebook, Twitter is an essential part of business strategy and even the federal government is trying is joining in on the revolution. So why aren’t the powerful tools and concepts at the heart of social media being used for education?

Marco Masoni, a lawyer turned educator and co-founder of, recently wrote a post for social media blog Mashable about the need for innovation in online education.  Masoni argues that it’s no longer enough for schools to simply make courses accessible online. They must now also consider the social and interactive tools they have available to provide a more dynamic learning experience.

The state of Wisconsin recently received over $65 million in federal funding from the USDA to expand broadband access to previously underserved rural areas. Access to high-speed Internet, made possible by these types of funding projects, coupled with the kinds of innovative educational tools that Masoni is recommending, is key for ensuring Wisconsin students are given the necessary tools to compete in an increasingly high-tech job market.

Masoni cites The Ocean Portal as a particularly good online educational tool. What are some others that you’ve used, good or bad?

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June 21st, 2010 in Broadband, Government

Voice Your Support for Broadband in WI

In an op-ed printed in today’s Milwaukee Small Business Times, our Executive Director Thad Nation discusses how important it is for Wisconsin that a recent request from Governor Doyle for broadband funding be approved.  The plan, which would add fiber optic connections at 467 schools in 70 districts and libraries in 380 communities, is a surefire way to foster economic development in the state and ensure Wisconsin remains on the cutting edge of technology.  Given the expected economic benefits of broadband deployment, there is no better use for the federal recovery dollars.

Please contact members of the Joint Finance Committee in support of this important funding.  We need your support to ensure Wisconsin continues to grow and doesn’t get left behind! You can find contact information for the committee here.

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June 17th, 2010 in Broadband

New Study Shows Adverse Economic Effects of Net Neutrality

by Thad Nation, Executive Director

While the U.S. faces one of the worst recessions in history, the debate over net neutrality is picking up steam. Job creation and innovation are essential for rebuilding our struggling economy, and technology expansion – particularly access to broadband – is a surefire way to foster economic development.

A new study from New York University Law School has shown that net neutrality regulations proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will actually hinder broadband development, costing the U.S. at least $62 billion annually for the next five years and eliminating 502,000 jobs. This is a hit our economy cannot weather.

With additional regulations in place, broadband providers may have to cut investments by 10 to 30 percent before 2015. According to Charles Davidson, director of the law school’s Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, a 30 percent cut would mean an $80 billion hit. Imagine what $80 billion could do if it were invested in technology.

Aside from the direct economic impacts, the resulting cut in investments would mean reduced network capacity and opportunity for new services.

The regulations would also affect broadband providers’ ability to offer high-quality network services for applications that need it most, such as telemedicine and e911. The FCC’s regulations would make it illegal for providers to use a smart network prioritizing such applications, and require that data be processed on a first-come first-serve basis. This means a music download would take precedence over an incoming e911 call.

This study is just one of several in recent months that has shown net neutrality regulations would have a damaging impact on our economy and opportunities for growth and innovation.

Here in Wisconsin, we’ve seen a great deal of progress in expanding broadband access across the state. We’re already one of the top 10 states in the country for households with Internet access, and – provided the funding is approved by the Joint Finance Committee in the Wisconsin State Legislature – our state is on track to use nearly $29 million in state and federal funds to expand broadband infrastructure. That will help bring high-speed Internet access to public facilities in 380 communities by the end of next year.

That public expansion lays the foundation for private companies to use the infrastructure to expand their services to even more parts of the state. Why enact regulations that would restrict that growth and potentially hamstring the broadband deployment many parts of our state so desperately need?

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May 7th, 2010 in Broadband, News, Wireless Technology

Milwaukee Woman Gets Technology Lifeline Cut in Rural WI

A previous blog discusses the Connecting Southwest Wisconsin Conference–the first regional broadband conference aimed at providing rural Wisconsin communities the tools they need to address the lack of broadband or high-speed internet access.

On my way to the conference in Belmont from Milwaukee, I got a taste of what being unconnected is really like.

Because I was relying on my smartphone’s GPS application rather than my own common sense, I ended up in Reedsburg, which is at least 2 hours in the wrong direction. Yeah, yeah I know it’s pretty hilarious but as Katherine Mansfield once said, “It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves.”

To make matters worse, I got a flat tire. And I didn’t have cell phone service. Pretty sweet, huh?

There I was on my way to a conference all about increasing access to high-speed broadband and I couldn’t even call AAA.

After flagging down some good Samaritans who not only put my spare tire on, but then directed me to the “honest mechanic” in the town seven miles away, I realized the irony of my situation. Even now, almost two weeks later, I shake my head and laugh.

Lessons learned: the need for better broadband access throughout Wisconsin is very real, and this Milwaukee city girl, who happens to be the Associate Director of a tech-issue nonprofit got to experience for herself what life unconnected is like.

What’s your story of life unconnected?

Join Wired Wisconsin as a coalition member today to help all of Wisconsin’s residents get better access to lifeline technologies like wireless and high-speed broadband.

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February 19th, 2010 in Broadband

Big Victory for Broadband in Wisconsin

Have you heard the good news? Yesterday Governor Doyle announced that Wisconsin is receiving $23 million dollars for broadband expansion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The money will be used in every single one of our 72 counties. 

Where exactly will broadband be deployed?

-74 schools

-8 post-secondary schools

-385 libraries

The effects of this grant will surely ripple outwards.  Because the selected locations are close to hospitals, police and fire stations, and 125,000 homes, broadband coverage could be easily expanded beyond the project.  According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Most of the coverage gaps in Wisconsin could be filled in only a few years.”

The struggle for broadband can often be very frustrating, so let’s celebrate this great success for Wisconsin.  As Thad Nation, Executive Director of Wired Wisconsin explained, “Expanding internet access – and particularly broadband access – is one of the best ways to foster economic development, support additional educational opportunities, and increase connections between citizens across the state.”

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February 4th, 2010 in Broadband

Paging Dr. Broadband

Achoooo!  Have you ever started coughing and sneezing and went to to figure out what your sickness was?  This is one simple way that technology has made health care information more accessible.

But not only can the wonder that is the internet help you diagnose your minor illnesses, it might save your life.  That’s right, your life!  Dan Wooley, a man from Florida, used his smartphone to figure out how to take care of his injuries while trapped in rubble from the recent Haiti earthquake.  He used the light and camera from his phone to take a look at his head and foot wounds.  He then followed the instructions form an app on his phone so he could take care of his injuries.

Not only does better technology make it easier for you to take care of yourself (or save your own life!), but it makes your doctors more efficient.  The advancement of e-records  prevents health histories from getting lost in the shuffle and gives “instantaneous online access to lab results.”  Additionally improved technology provides patients and doctors with the option of communicating through online consultations.

Technology certainly has enhanced medical care, but we need to make sure everyone has access to high-speed broadband internet to benefit from these improvements.

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February 1st, 2010 in Broadband, Jobs and Economy


In these difficult economic times, job creation is essential.  One important area to tap into is broadband. As this Broadband for America blog points out, “Broadband access requires the deployment of networks, the staff to maintain them and all of the related content provider investments along the way.”  Increased broadband deployment ameliorates two problems at once: lack of high speed internet access and lack of work.

Beyond the broadband related jobs, a recent study from The Phoenix Center has shown that those who have access to broadband are more successful in job searches.  With a better internet connection, people can discover new job opportunities more easily.

Whether it’s the jobs that the actual deployment of broadband creates or the improved access to job listings that result from broadband internet, it’s clear, broadband=jobs.

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January 22nd, 2010 in Broadband, Government

The Ongoing Fight for Broadband

From the moment you wake up in the morning and check your email over coffee, to the time you spend on the computer at work—the internet is ubiquitous in most people’s lives.  It’s an important part of both personal and professional worlds, and, that being so, it is essential that the speed of broadband be available to all.

While some parts of the state have broadband access, there are still many areas of Wisconsin without it.  At Wired Wisconsin, we will keep pushing this important issue to the forefront.   We believe that expanding broadband access will create economic growth (including jobs!) and help individuals connect.

 The FCC is required to deliver a national broadband deployment  plan to congress by February 17; however, they are currently seeking a month-long extension to complete the plan.  We are eager to see more action taken on a national level to increase broadband, but, seeing those delays, we also understand that it is important to keep forging ahead statewide.  We need public-private partnerships to bring broadband to rural Wisconsin communities. 

 Even though it can be a struggle, we hope you’ll join us in continuing the fight to provide broadband to all Wisconsinites.

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November 17th, 2009 in Broadband, Consumers, Government

New Cable Bill Bad for Consumers, Economy

A new bill has been introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature that would undo the progress our state has made in expanding consumer access to video and internet options, improving infrastructure, and creating new jobs.

The “Cable Consumer Repair Bill” was introduced by Rep. Hebl on Tuesday, and seeks to overturn the system of cable competition that was set up under the Video Competition Act (VCA), which was enacted in January of 2008.

Even though the VCA was passed less than two years ago, we’ve already seen a great deal of progress under the bill.  It’s generated real competition, helped improve prices, created hundreds of new jobs, spurred millions in investment in infrastructure, improved customer service and expanded consumers’ access to new video providers, services and features all across the state.

But this new bill would make it significantly harder for new companies to enter the marketplace while simultaneously discouraging future investment in our state.

Especially in these tough economic times, it’s vital to our state’s future that we do everything in our power to encourage infrastructure development in high-tech industries like video and internet services.

We need to let the current bill continue to do its job, rather than put the economic benefits we’ve seen in jeopardy.

Thad Nation, Executive Director

Wired Wisconsin

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October 2nd, 2009 in Broadband, E-Learning, Government

21st Century E-Learning: The Key to Academic Success

We have had the privilege of traveling all over Wisconsin introducing our coalition to individuals, businesses, and policy makers. When we get to the 21st Century E-Learning discussion, the real importance of giving students–no matter where they live and what their economic status—access to technology-enriched education reaffirms our commitment to fulfilling coalition goals.

The impact of having access to technology-enriched education is demonstrated well with this video.

“Currently preparing kids for jobs that don’t exist yet

 using technology that hasn’t yet been invented

in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet” (video excerpt)

As our nation’s schools struggle to keep up, and in some cases catch up, with countries around the world, having technology in the classroom part of the overall learning environment rather than a special class during the day is integral to our student’s being able to compete in the global marketplace.

“Online learning is becoming an important facet of K12 education in meeting the requirements for highly qualified teachers in every classroom, in providing professional development for teachers and school choice and in tutoring options to students and parents” (Department of Education).

This interactive map created by The Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International shows how technology can be used in the classroom and the community overall to give our students multiple educational pathways to success.

 The reliance on the internet to educate our children in the classroom and ourselves at home or in the office will continue to increase as accessibility grows to meet demand. We are home to one of the world’s most recognized research institutions, the University of Wisconsin, their slogan, Forward. Thinking.  encapsulates Wired Wisconsin’s goal of expanding 21st century e-learning for today and tomorrow

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