Higher Education Sector
Dr. Janet K. Poley

President of ADEC Distance Education Consortium

Good Afternoon. As President of the ADEC Distance Education Consortium, I am pleased to provide some information from the higher education community that may be used in your deliberations. ADEC has grown from the land grant institutions that changed our world forever. We are actively engaged in making the transition to digital in our more than 200 broadcasting studios and electronic classrooms, 39 satellite uplinks and 2000 satellite downlink receivers (many in rural areas). We were instrumental in introducing the Internet to many Americans including rural and remote areas. Today we are active participants in the Next Generation Internet and Internet II and are experimenting with interactive technology integration appropriate for learning applications. Our members include historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and foreign educational institutions in Australia, Mexico, Latin America and Africa. As a distributed virtual organization, we work with a variety of professional associations and nonprofits in nutrition, health, children's welfare, youth development, food technology and the physical and biological sciences. Please see our webpage for complete details on our organization and programs.

The member institutions want you to know how important we think it is to insure this transition to digital television so that we have as an outcome a vibrant public and educational broadcasting sector. We think this digital revolution must be developed to serve educational goals critical to the future of our nation. Today I want to talk briefly about five areas where we think it is important to expand programming to meet the growing demands of our clients across the country. We are currently using all available technologies to program to community leaders and learners in parenting, nutrition, health, environmental science, food production, food safety, community development, consumer affairs, work force skills and volunteer development. Research tells us of the importance of active learning and we are entering an era where mass multi-directional digital communication can restore our ability to treat each other as intelligent, engaged partners. But we must think about this change as an evolution. In the short term, we can work together to provide existing educational offerings to our citizens. In the longer term, we can develop new integrated digital systems matched to learning styles and needs of those we serve. I want to speak briefly about some of the most important areas and some examples of programming:

1. Parenting and other programs focused on improving the lives of children and youth

2. Health

3. Lifelong Learning - with emphasis on an aging population

4. Workforce Training

5. Virtual Certificates and Degrees

The digital television revolution gives us a wonderful opportunity to move from a mind-set of "scarcity" to a mind-set of abundance of multiple channels and services. We can now have the long overdue national conversation about what this TV appliance does and does not bring into our homes. We can talk about quality and content - and finally bring the television medium to a place front and center in strengthening our local and national economies. I am talking about the fact that the 98% of American homes with one television and the 67% with two televisions should have a much wider array of choices in programming. In the short term, our task may simply be organizing broader access to more program choices. In the longer term, we will have a wonderful opportunity to develop this public and educational sector so as to engage learners actively in an environment where data, voice and video are integrated interactively. These immediate and longer term opportunities should include both formal and informal learning opportunities. We can develop the digital world so that people want to learn, they can afford to learn and they can do it conveniently at home, in school or in the workplace.

The higher education sector cooperating with nonprofits in arrangements such as ADEC can step up to this challenge - in fact, would welcome the opportunity to be part of this massive change in education.

Today, for all practical purposes, the institutions that I work with - the land grant institutions - are frozen out of the prospect of creating affordable access to the medium people watch more than six hours a day. The evolution to digital television will give us an opportunity to become more socially responsible. Surely we can encourage broad participation in this new television and Internet integration. Surely we can carve out some organized time and space among the hundreds of digital channels and services to assure that educational programs are easily found among the offerings. Surely we can allow universities and nonprofits to have some control over deciding what they will offer and when.

We need many groups to be involved in organizing this new and dynamic digital public interest and education sector. We need real collaborations and partnerships. We need to look at this so channels can be dedicated to various audience segments and types of programs. We need to plan so that a rich diversity of programs are aired for the rich diversity of the people we call Americans. Beyond all else, we need to develop this public interest sector so that it spans and encompasses the nation. The quality of our future depends upon everybody becoming lifelong learners.

In the 1800s, college and universities were granted land to develop an organizational system that would take knowledge to the people. Higher education based on a practical curriculum, learning applicable to real life and open to anyone - not just elites - was a radical idea. The Land Grant

Act of 1862 changed our world forever. You, on this committee, hold the future of America and the globe in your hands. I know you will think long and hard about how this "digital grant" to broadcasters can be used in the public interest. It is clear to my constituents in every state and county in this nation that broadcasters, in return for their exclusive use of a public good, should be required to carry an increased amount of educational and public interest programming - located so it can easily be found - widely offered on an affordable basis. The digital revolution is, after all, about restoring the rights of all Americans to participate in the dialog which shapes their nation. The development of a broadcasting environment that encourages the development of a REAL public and educational sector is essential for the sustainable security of our nation. I wish you well and know that Americans in every community in the nation will be following your actions closely. They must. Their vital interests are at stake.

Thank you.

Janet Poley
C218 Animal Science
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68583-0952
Phone: (402) 472-7000
Fax: (402) 472-9060
Web Site:

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