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What is the Task Force On Learning And The Internet?

The Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet, with support and guidance from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is a group of 20 innovative and respected minds in technology, public policy, education, business, privacy and safety. The Task Force’s goal was to understand the ways in which young people learn today and to optimize learning and innovation within a trusted environment. From there, the Task Force defined how parents, teachers, young learners, businesses and nonprofits can expand new learning opportunities, online and off-line, and inside and outside the classroom.

After a year of study, outreach to stakeholders, public input and internal deliberations, the Task Force believes that a new vision of learning is emerging. But to ensure that young learners are able to take full advantage of the opportunity, we must resolve serious issues of trust, safety, privacy, literacy and equity of access. To help resolve some of these challenges, the Task Force has highlighted five essential principles and twenty-six action steps with the intention they be used as a guide for action – a tool to help those who wrestle with these issues at the local, state and federal levels to tackle them with new insights, clarity, and efficiency.  

About the Communications and Society Program

The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields.  We provide a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy.  The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

The Program’s projects range across many areas of information, communications and media policy.  Our activities focus on issues of open and innovative governance, public diplomacy, institutional innovation, broadband and spectrum management, as well as the future of content, issues of race and diversity, and the free flow of digital goods, services and ideas across borders.

Most conferences employ the signature Aspen Institute seminar format: approximately 25 leaders from diverse disciplines and perspectives engaged in roundtable dialogue, moderated with the goal of driving the agenda to specific conclusions and recommendations.  The program distributes our conference reports and other materials to key policymakers, opinion leaders and the public in the United States and around the world.  We also use the internet and social media to inform and ignite broader conversations that foster greater participation in the democratic process.

The Program’s Executive Director is Charles M. Firestone.  He has served in this capacity since 1989 and also as Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute.  Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, Mr. Firestone was a communications attorney and law professor who has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court.  He is a former director of the UCLA Communications Law Program, first president of the Los Angeles Board of Telecommunications Commissioners, and an appellate attorney for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

MacArthur is one of the nation's largest independent foundations. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media.