What can you do with a gig? Mozilla’s Gigabit Fund tells us with 20 proposed pilot projects in KC

Silicon Prairie News just released a two-part piece exploring the impact of Google Fiber on

Google Fiberspace / photo credit Silicon Prairie News

Kansas City, now 3 years since the original announcement that declared Kansas City, Kan. the first city in America to get it.  SPN dives into how Kansas City scored the biggest technological coup of the century, and charts the past, present and future implications of being the first in a long of line of ambitious cities to come on board. It also dishes on Kansas City’s struggle to wield a power that is largely misunderstood and certainly underused, all while trying to predict where and when outcomes of successful next-generation applications using gigabit technology can be seen and measured.

Like Google Fiber, Mozilla chose Kansas City, and in February launched a fund that supports innovation in education by leveraging gigabit technology.  Mozilla is interested in how technology can serve educational systems, programs and learning.  Mozilla has deployed the Gigabit Community Fund to champion transformative innovation in classrooms and in after-school programs or informal education spaces like Science City’s Maker Studio, Arts Tech, Upper Room, and in our public libraries.

When I started working for Mozilla in mid January, I had no idea how deeply vested and mission-driven Mozilla was when it came to education, web literacy, connected learning principles, and in building a learning network here in Kansas City.  So, it’s not surprising that Mozilla chose the lens of education and learning in which to focus this project to fund innovation on KC’s fiber-fast Internet.

When the application window for our first round of funding opened in late February, I was blown away by Kansas City’s resounding response to the question “What good is a gig?”  Twenty concepts put forward by schools, nonprofits, businesses, libraries and agencies were submitted for funding consideration.  Grantees will be announced here on April 14th.  And while these applications are being evaluated, we are preparing to put funded projects into practice inside live classrooms and spaces in Kansas City.  These funded projects will report their progress with blog updates, videos and use Mozilla’s Webmaker tools to share their success and feedback from the front lines.  These pilots will be evidence of our 3-year gig journey, and test its impact in real ways that we can see and measure.

Moving forward, the Gigabit Fund is how Mozilla plans to build a big tent for education and connected learning in KC.  We’ve worked to both grow our two foundational Hive Learning Networks (Chicago and NYC), helped to onboard HLNs in Toronto and Pittsburgh, and we’re now fostering the growth of new HLNs in Kansas City, Chattanooga, and the Bay Area, among others.  This energy, this “Hiveyness,” has led to a three-tiered engagement ladder that outlines what it means to contribute to the Hive Learning Network project.

 The Gigabit Fund is how we will create a community of practice, launching successful pilots with teachers and educators, funding scalable and remixable programs and technology to serve our community and beyond.  These inaugural pilots will be done by the Fourth of July – so maybe we can send up some fireworks to showcase real progress and projects built for education, using gig tech, right here in KC.

That’s how you build a gig city.  And that’s how we’ll build Hive KC.