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LEAD Commission Followed with ED, FCC Support

A new commission that will author a blueprint on how to harness technology as a catalyst for educational reform will do so with support from the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Leading Education by Advancing Digital, or LEAD, Commission launched Thursday with support from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski, and will be led by a panel of four co-commissioners that includes former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Common Sense Media Founder and Chief Executive Officer James Steyer, according to a press release.

By late 2012, the commission promises to release a blueprint of findings in three key areas, based on input from teachers, parents, local government and school officials, students, and ed-tech industry leaders. It's unclear from the organization's website who will be underwriting the work.

The blueprint will include, according to the release:
• a fact base of current efforts, trends, cost implications, and other obstacles regarding technology adoption in schools;
• an examination of how tech-driven transformation in other sectors could be carried over to education; and
• policy and funding recommendations for the ed-tech world.

The effort, whose other co-commissioners are Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and TPG Capital Founder James Coulter, is the latest in a growing list of collaboratives endorsed by the Education Department and/or the FCC with some sort of ed-tech focus.

The FCC announced its Connect to Compete initiative aimed at providing affordable Internet access for low-income families in October, a month after the Education Department launched Digital Promise, a Congressionally authorized clearinghouse dedicated to identifying, supporting, and publicizing the most effective education technology innovations. Both also supported Gov. Bob Wise's Digital Learning Day.

On the surface, all those initiatives would point to ed-tech gaining further steam as an educational cause. But it's too early to tell whether some of these efforts will overlap, and further, whether that overlap is intentional to create the appearance of more grandiose and material government support of education technology than is reality.

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