FI Tech. Innovations Impact National Policy

July 9, 2014 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to focus E-Rate resources on wireless Internet access and new technologies in schools nationwide today. This proposal has been underway for some time, and Phil Emer, Director of Technology Planning and Policy at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State, was a part of that process as a member of the Education and Library Technology Experts Roundtable during the May 6 eRate Modernization Workshop.

pemerEmer responded to the one of the FCC’s notices of proposed rule-making concerning modernizing the E-Rate program on behalf of the Friday Institute. The FCC took note of the Institute’s success with school connectivity in North Carolina and invited Emer to Washington, DC to further discuss the program.

“It’s what we had hoped would happen,” Emer said. “We do good things: we changed policy in the state, we got funding in the state, we built a sustainable model, and now, nationally, they want it to be a model for other states.”

With 13 other experts, Emer kicked off the roundtable discussion that covered several topics related to ensuring that schools and libraries have affordable access to 21st century broadband. The panel lasted nearly four hours (and is available for viewing on the FCC website), and Emer described it as “constructive.” With over 25 years of experience in both the private and public sectors, Emer brings a unique perspective to any panel he participates in – and he’s invited to a lot of them.

In addition to the FCC workshop, Emer has recently participated in IBM’s Pulse keynote panel in Las Vegas, NV; the Microsoft YouthSpark Connections panel in Raleigh, NC; CoSN’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC; and at the Broadband Communities conference in Austin, TX. Audience numbers for the panels ranged from dozens to thousands, and they encompass a variety of fields from educational technology to network access to cloud services.

Not only do attendees learn from Emer, but he benefits from the experience of being a panelist as well. Being recognized as an expert facilitates professional connections with other experts, from whom he learns and may work with later on. According to Emer, “it’s much more effective than simply going to a conference.”

Emer’s career began at NC State, where he received his Master’s in computer engineering and directed voice, video, and data communications. Since then, his titles have included engineer at IBM, technology executive at venture-backed Carolina Broadband, and technology director at not-for-profit MCNC, to name a few.

“Timing-wise, I’ve always been in a really good spot, to see [technology] grow or take it’s next leap. A lot has changed in the last 25 years that fundamentally changed the way people live,” Emer said.

Today, Emer is currently involved in developing the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, which seeks to continue and accelerate the state’s progress toward providing the personalized digital-age education K-12 students need to be successful in college, in careers, and as productive citizens. Emer is hopeful that the digital learning plan will see the same success as the Institute’s school connectivity initiatives and become a national model as well.