White Pine County participates in summit

Connect Nevada and the Nevada Broadband Task Force co-hosted the Learning in the Digital Space, the state’s third annual broadband summit last week. 

“The summit was geared toward bringing attention to finding solutions to bridge educational video conference and online course initiatives with broadband access,” White Pine Community and Economic Director Jim Garza said. “With County Technology Assessment Plans completed, what are the next steps with implementation of actions that resolve the needs identified in the plan? What resources are available? How can we collaborate as a whole across the state to locate and apply for funding sources? And finally, the summit discussed social media and its benefits to improve quality of life and business relationships.”

The summit, held at the University of Nevada, Reno, saw more than 100 educators, librarians, industry leaders, community organizations and government representatives come together to discuss how educators and students can use technology in the classroom and using broadband to bring access to students around the world.

The summit featured a number of speakers and panels, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga and Garza and covered numerous topics, including one to one device initiatives and social media in the classroom.

“Our goal of this summit was to challenge and inspire stakeholders to prioritize the sustainable implementation of technology in our schools, homes and libraries so that Nevada can better prepare its students for the 21st century workforce,” Connect Nevada State Program Manager Lindsey Niedzielski said in a release. “We heard a lot of great examples from schools, non-profits and libraries working to promote learning in the digital space. We walked away with new information about the transformative role technology can and should play in our learning ecosystem.”

White Pine County is seeing the effects of bringing broadband access to communities already. The White Pine County School District is looking to provide a one-to-one ratio of Chromebooks to students by the end of the 2015 school year while a project in Lund is aimed at providing technology learning opportunities for the Lund and Preston communities.

“It’s important for each county to leverage their county technology plan as a tool to apply for federal and state funding to implement action plans,” Garza said. “Our office was instrumental in doing just that, reaching out to Arizona Nevada Towers Company 12 months ago to discuss the USDA Community Connect Grant opportunity we knew would be released in the summer of 2013. We partnered with them to apply for the grant to improve broadband access in the Lund/Preston area and was successful in being awarded federal funding to conduct the needed improvements to resolve the issues identified in that market area.”

The county is also seeing projects in Baker and the Ely areas aimed at increasing and improving broadband and wireless access to customers in those areas. Those include a new cell tower in Baker and new cables being laid in the Ely area to allow for faster speeds for residents in the future.

“Baker has utilized and benefited from the County Technology Assessment Plan with the newly under-construction cell tower by Commnet,” Garza said. “Within the Ely/Ruth/McGill area, local providers are upgrading equipment to expand internet service as well as laying fiber in the ground to allow faster download and upload speeds.”

As the Broadband Summit focused on the opportunities in education to utilize broadband in its learning, Garza said in White Pine County, they ware working to provide internet access for all. And while it might take time to complete its goal, Garza said the county will reach its goal of broadband access for all.

“Resolving our access issues will take time, but if we keep placing projects in the pipeline, eventually, we will resolve our internet access issues,” Garza said.

To access the webcast, presentations and photos from the summit, please visit www.connectnv.org/broadbandsummit.

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