A year ago today, the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund launched in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In front of a crowd of more than 250 community members, education leaders, and technology innovators, we kicked off the next phase of the partnership between the National Science Foundation, US Ignite and Mozilla aimed at bringing gigabit innovation out of the lab and into classrooms and informal learning spaces across Chattanooga.
Over the last 12 months, we’ve awarded $167,000 to 8 community projects that have shown the impact of our high-speed network on learning. From real-time environmental monitoring with micro-controllers to cloud-based audio remixing, the ideas supported by the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund have pushed forward the bleeding edge of next-generation technological development. By engaging learners as beta testers and educators as co-designers, these projects have also empowered diverse new groups of Chattanoogans as creators of gigabit technology while helping to reimagine the relationship between educators, technologists, and entrepreneurs in our city.
These successes in Mozilla’s first year of work in Chattanooga were made possible through collaboration with dozens of like-minded organizations, schools, and businesses across our community. These collaborations with the Public Education Foundation, the Company Lab, and so many others have fueled the rapid development of Hive Chattanooga, our city-based learning community that has – together with our partners – convened 4,800+ Chattanoogans at more than 50 events since February 6, 2014.
Hive Chattanooga has brought together community members to explore the intersection of technology and education, pushing forward the conversation about how to best leverage next-generation networks while recognizing the necessity of web literacy at every level. Indeed, we have seen again and again in our work here in Chattanooga the symbiotic relationship between basic digital literacy education and next-generation tech development. To use a media-rich web app in a classroom setting, after all, students need not only a high-speed connection but also a basic understanding of what a web browser is. And to be inspired to learn basic coding skills, students need to see how these skills fuel the innovations happening all around them in their own classrooms and communities. Web literacy education builds a user base for gigabit innovations, while gigabit innovations inspire web literacy learning.
This powerful symbiotic cycle is what the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund has fed and deepened in Chattanooga over the past 12 months. In the weeks and months to come as we begin year two, we’re going to work on better telling the story of this cycle – what’s happened and why does it matter for Chattanooga? As part of sharing this story, we’re also going to be looking at how we can take the projects we’ve supported to new audiences in new organizations and new cities while bringing lessons from other Hive communities back to Chattanooga. So stay tuned – there are exciting things ahead for the Mozilla Gigabit Fund and Hive Chattanooga.
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