SUGAR LAND, Texas — Fort Bend Independent School District (ISD) will host expert panelists during a live, national event taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Connected Nation is producing the free event titled “20 years of connecting the nation: a national conversation on the Digital Divide.” It will feature live, in-studio panel discussions from three U.S. cities: Washington, DC; Sugar Land, Texas; and Portland, Oregon, as well as stories from across the country profiling how individuals, families, and communities are directly impacted by the Digital Divide.
"Having my students produce and collaborate with Connected Nation for the live national broadcast is such an incredible opportunity for them to gain real world industry experience,” said Joey Dyrud-Lange, audio/video media production, James Reese Career & Technical Center, Fort Bend ISD. “I am so impressed with my students for the work they have done already. They are developing life-long learning and compassion through this experience.”
The Fort Bend ISD location will host two important panels for the day: the “Rural broadband conversation” and “How education is impacted by access or lack of it.” These two panels will feature panelists ranging from digital inclusion experts to educators.
“When planning this event, we intentionally looked for a school district that could host a live, in-studio discussion because education is such an important part of the discussion about the Digital Divide,” said Jessica Denson, communications director, Connected Nation. “Even before the need to increase remote learning during the pandemic, it was estimated that as many as 16.9 million children fell into the homework gap — meaning they did not have the access at home they needed to complete schoolwork. Having Fort Bend ISD’s students run these two panel discussions is an additional way for Connected Nation to acknowledge the importance of connecting our nation’s schools, teachers, and students.”
In addition to running the technical side of the live studio production, two Fort Bend ISD students will act as moderators for the panels: Tahj Spencer, who is a 10th grader at Dulles High School, and Marilyn Terrazas, who is an 11th grader at William B. Travis High School. Both students have received accolades for their work in video and broadcasting.
“I am confident that Fort Bend ISD’s all-student crew and moderators will do a fantastic job and represent our future leaders in communications while working alongside some of our nation’s top and award-winning professional broadcast journalists and television stations,” said Denson.
The event will also feature live panels hosted by KGW8-TV, an NBC affiliate in Portland, Oregon, and the national rural network, RFD-TV, which will be broadcasting from its American Farm Bureau studio in Washington, DC.
In addition to expert panels, Connected Nation will take viewers across America to meet those directly impacted by the Digital Divide. You’ll hear stories from business owners and farmers working in rural communities; teachers and students affected by remote learning; doctors and mental health practitioners who are leveraging telehealth in new ways; and others.