Highlights from Fond du Lac BBC programs: App Camp for kids, Hotspots, training

Last week the Fond du Lac broadband team and Blandin Foundation broadband team met to celebrate the work that had been done in the area through the BBC (Blandin Broadband Community) program. I was lucky enough to attend. It was fun to see the enthusiasm and hear about the programs – especially since I was actually involved with some of the projects in FdL.

I’m happy to post the presentation from the event and the more complete notes below. The very high level of highlights was hearing about

  • How IT was able to extend broadband coverage to 80 homes through hotspots. One goal on the reservation is to not be dependent on anyone else for connectivity so it’s nice to see homegrown solutions.
  • The summer application development camp that just ended. (In fact I have video that I’ll be posting on the apps later this week. So I’ll keep my notes here pretty brief.)
  • The training offered to local residents on a wide range of topics.

What brought the group together?

  • People came to us to get broadband on the reservation
  • We saw the opportunity to become a BBC
  • We had been applying to USDA unsuccessfully – partially because we didn’t know exactly what the community wanted
  • We were working on economic development and strategic plans and the Internet and digital literacy came up quite a bit
  • 17 years ago there was no internet connectivity and not a ton of interest but once it started to work, the interest grew quickly
  • The first issue was getting broadband capacity to the reservation – we now have gigabit access to the reservation
  • Now we want to get gig access to everyone – it was going to be $5 million to serve the reservation; $9 million for FTTH
  • Kids expect to be able to get online – we want everyone in the community to expect and use the Internet

Who was involved?

So many people – starting with Steering Committee

What were the findings of the planning process?

  • We learned that people wanted educational opportunities
  • People wanted training
  • People wanted to access to videos and other entertainment

Wireless Hot Spots

  • Wanted to reach as many residents as possible – on a budget
  • Selected 13 locations
  • Chose a solution that created wireless zones
  • Wired all of those locations
  • Made sure access was seamless as users moved from one location to another
  • We cover 10 square miles to more than 80 homes and up to 400 devices connect at peak times
  • Access speeds of 10 Mb to 30 Mb down and 5 Mb up

iPads in the Classroom

  • In 8th grade classroom
  • Received in April and will look at results at end of school year.
  • At a beta stage
  • The classroom is now paperless!
  • Kids take notes on the iPads – maybe better than on paper – certainly easier to share
  • Waiting to hear about a grant to improve broadband in the classroom – we need better broadband

App Camp

  • A two-week camp where kids learned how to develop app camps
  • Students earned an iPad for their work
  • Started with a discussion of what is an app – moved to creating an actual app
  • The camp made the teachers very
  • Discover, define, design, develop and deploy
This entry was posted in economic development, education, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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