What is the Gigabit Community Fund?
Since 2011, Mozilla has partnered with the National Science Foundation and US Ignite to demonstrate the value of gigabit networks for learning and to help seed demand for further high-speed network investment. In early 2014, the Hive Chattanooga and Hive Kansas City Learning Communities were launched to activate these leading gigabit cities as living laboratories for gigabit innovation. The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund provides catalytic funding in these Hive communities to support the piloting of gigabit technologies and associated curricula. Intentionally designed to erase boundaries between educators and technologists, between organizations, and between gigabit cities, Gigabit Community Fund projects show the impact of next-generation networks on learning and engage new leaders as co-creators and beta-testers of gigabit-enabled educational technologies.
In 2014, the Gigabit Community Fund supported the development of 17 engaging projects in Kansas City and Chattanooga. Building on this success, the National Science Foundation announced in September 2015 a three-year continuation of its partnership with Mozilla to sustain the work in Chattanooga and Kansas City and to expand to three additional gigabit cities by 2018. Hive Austin was launched in mid-2016 and two additional cities will be announced in 2017.
The Gigabit Advantage for Learning
High-speed networks enable students, teachers, and learners of all ages to engage and explore on the Web without ever having to worry about buffering delays, shaky video connections, or download wait times. When bandwidth is abundant, learners can connect across the boundaries of classrooms, organizations, cities, and states in real-time, creating new opportunities to read, write, and participate online.
Gigabit Community Fund projects explore these new ways of reading, writing, and participating on a lightning-fast Web. Pilots supported by the Fund show current and future gigabit cities how high-speed networks can be leveraged to make learning immediate, equitable, and immersive:
- Immediate: Next-generation networks make learning immediate — just ask any student who’s built a video with Viditor or any teacher who worked with a student across town via video through Wireless Earth Watchdogs. Gig speeds mean that students don’t have to wait for a video download or for their projects to compile losing valuable classroom minutes. They don’t experience weird lurches in video calls or buffering times on media-rich websites. This advantage may seem minor, but its impacts on engagement are huge. When videos load instantly, there’s no time to become distracted with another tab or another student. When there’s no lag on video calls, distance learning feels like in-person learning.
- Equitable: High-speed networks level the technological playing field for students. Gig speeds mean that schools don’t need the latest and greatest hardware to be on the cutting edge of technology. High-speed networks allow data to stream without delay or lag to the cloud, where hardware-intensive processes can take place. This means that students working on old laptops or outmoded tablets can — without a great processor or expensive software — edit videos thanks to Viditor or mix music with Adagio.
- Immersive: Gigabit speeds and new technologies in virtual and augmented reality combine to create opportunities for learners to explore new worlds without ever leaving the classroom. Youth at the library in Kansas City can visit new parts of their own community and build fanciful urban landscapes in their own backyard using Oculus Rift with Minecraft. More exciting still, these same students can build entirely new cityscapes in real-time alongside youth hundreds of miles away at the Chattanooga Public Library using these same technologies. With an ever-increasing number of consumer VR headsets available and growing public interest in the VR space, gigabit cities are an ideal testbed in which to explore how bandwidth-intensive VR and AR environments can be leveraged for learning.
Explore Gigabit Hive Communities
The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund currently supports pilot projects involving organizations in Austin, Kansas City and Chattanooga. In each of these leading gigabit cities, a vibrant Hive Learning Community comprised of educators, technologists, entrepreneurs and web literacy leaders of all stripes helps to activate, grow, and scale the pilots supported by the Gigabit Community Fund.
Expanding the Gigabit Community Fund
Cities across the United States are investing in high-speed networks that have the potential to change the way individuals connect and create on the Web. Mozilla works to ensure that the Web remains a global public resource that is open and accessible to everyone. As the national gigabit innovation ecosystem grows, increasing participation in next-gen innovation through projects like the Gigabit Community Fund fuels Mozilla’s mission of supporting an Internet where all people are empowered, safe, and independent.
In partnership with the National Science Foundation and US Ignite, we’re expanding the Gigabit Community Fund to two additional gigabit cities by 2018. Interested in adding your community to list of communities being considered as part of this expansion? Please fill out this interest form.