New Director Of Digital Learning to Lead FCC Education Technology Initiatives

world256x256Washington, D.C. – The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski today announced the appointment of Michael Steffen as Director of Digital Learning to lead the FCC’s work within the agency and across government, public, and private partners to modernize broadband infrastructure in U.S. schools and libraries and expand access to the opportunities of digital technologies for America’s teachers, students, and parents. The FCC is the largest funder of Internet connectivity in K-12 schools in the United States.

Chairman Genachowski said, “We are at a critical moment for education technology. Broadband and digital tools have game-changing potential for education. Our significant E-Rate reforms in 2010 were a strong start to lower costs and expand broadband access to schools and libraries, but we’re going to need to take some more big steps to unlock the opportunity of digital learning. Michael Steffen has been a key part of my senior leadership team, spearheading numerous major accomplishments to expand access to broadband. I am thrilled that he’ll now be bringing his rigorous analysis, problem-solving, and consensus building skills to his new role as Director of Digital Learning.”

The creation of the new position builds on the Commission’s ongoing work in education. Last year, Chairman Genachowski and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan launched the Digital Textbooks Initiative, a collaboration between the FCC, the Department of Education, the education technology industry, and nonprofit organizations to give all students access to advanced digital learning materials within five years. The FCC and Department of Education also joined technology and education leaders to form the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission to analyze trends and present policy and funding recommendations. LEAD is co-chaired by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, TPG Capital co-founder James Coulter, former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Common Sense Media founder and CEO James Steyer. In 2011, the Commission adopted significant reforms of its E-Rate program to expand access to school connectivity after hours, facilitate access to fiber, and modernize application procedures.

Staff Bio – Michael Steffen

Michael Steffen first joined the Commission in 2009, and has most recently served as the Chairman’s legal advisor on wireline, international, and Internet policy issues. In that role, he has overseen implementation of the Commission’s landmark overhaul of its rural universal service programs and creation of the Connect America Fund, the largest-ever broadband infrastructure program for rural America. He has also overseen all Commission activities related to universal service funding for schools and libraries, coordinated on education technology and connectivity issues across government, and served as the Commission’s liaison to private sector and non-profit initiatives, including the LEAD Commission.

Mr. Steffen also led the launch of the Commission’s most sophisticated and in-depth data collection ever for enterprise and community anchor broadband services; release of two Measuring Broadband America reports on consumer broadband speed and quality; creation of the Technology Transitions Task Force to
comprehensively review Commission policies in light of ongoing network and market transitions; streamlining and modernization of reporting and regulatory burdens across the International Bureau; and other priority initiatives.

Prior to joining the Chairman’s office, Mr. Steffen served as a Special Counsel in the Office of General Counsel, where he advised on universal service issues, major transactions, and other priority projects. Mr. Steffen previously served as Executive Director of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, working on global access to medicines and student empowerment on global health issues, and at the Center for Democracy and Technology, focusing on copyright, Internet governance, and consumer privacy. Mr. Steffen graduated from Yale Law School and clerked for Judge David S. Tatel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read the original press release on the FCC website.