Obama Calls for Federal Money to Bring 'Digital Learning' to Classrooms

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MOORSEVILLE, N.C. (AP) President Barack Obama is visiting a middle school in North Carolina, as he calls for federal regulators to help turn the nation's classrooms into digital learning centers.

Obama wants to equip schools with broadband and high-speed Internet connections at a cost of several billion dollars. He says it's a way to "help our students get ahead" in a digital age.

Obama is promoting an initiative that he says would mean faster Internet connections for 99 percent of students within five years.

He's calling on the Federal Communications Commission to fund the improvements through an existing program that puts Internet access into schools and libraries, using a surcharge on phone bills.

Administration officials cite a need for the U.S. to catch up to other countries, such as South Korea -- where all schools have high-speed Internet access, and where plans call for eliminating printed textbooks by 2016.