- President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that several U.S. companies had committed $750 million to putting high-speed Internet in more classrooms.
- Among the pledges are $100 million worth of iPads, computers, and other tools from Apple; free wireless Internet service from AT&T and Sprint; $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions from Verizon; and discounted Windows software and 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office from Microsoft.
- Obama pointed out that only 30% of U.S. students, compared to 100% of South Korean students, have access to true high-speed Internet in the classroom, and today's announcement furthers his goal of increasing that percentage of U.S. students to 99% in five years.
The president last year made his promise about increasing high-speed Internet access to 99% of students in the next five years, and he reiterated that in this year's State of the Union. Today was also meant to be an example of how he can act on certain initiatives without waiting on Congress, and the FCC's announcement this morning — that it will set aside $2 billion under the federal E-Rate program to connect 15,000 schools to high-speed Internet, plays into that — as well.
Of course, the companies involved are individually detailing their roles, too. A statement from Verizon, for example, touted one of the company's teacher training programs for technology in the classroom as increasing 52% of students' proficiency, 40% of students' problem-solving skills, and over 33% of students' academic achievement. Meanwhile, Apple called attention to its thousands of iTunes U courses and 75,000 educational apps like Spacecraft 3D, a NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory app used by students at the middle school where Obama made today's announcement.