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2012-13 esucc distance-learning review

fall•magazine October 2013

Virtual Science Centers ESU #5’s DL Classes for Elementary

Software MCus & cloud services Comparison matrix

Features 04 ESU #5’s DL Science

Annette Weise

06 How to use a Single Codec for Teaching Molly Aschoff

DL Report 05 Using Safari Montage Beth Kabes 07 Improving DL Instruction John Stritt

The Year Ahead 3 Distance Learning Week!

Lois Hafer

12 eRate 2.0

SuAnn Witt with Tom Rolfes

14 ConnectED Tom Rolfes

Consider this 08 Why NE is a Leader in Distance-Learning

Gordon Roethemeyer

10 Desktop VC Solution Comparison Matrix

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Gordon Roethemeyer

Distance Learning Week! by Lois Hafer

Announcing NE Distance Learning Week (NDLW)! On October 16, Governor Heineman will proclaim the week of November 11-15, 2013, as Nebraska Distance Learning Week to coincide with the USDLA National Distance Learning Week. Each day after school, the Nebraska Distance Learning Association (NDLA) will offer a 60-minute videoconference learning opportunity for all Nebraska educators. Each session, beginning at 3:45 p.m., will feature a Nebraska content provider. Each content provider will share information about their curriculum enrichment programs available through interactive videoconferencing. The scheduled for the week is as follows: November 11 – Henry Doorly Zoo November 12 – Morrill Hall and the Durham Museum November 13 – Joslyn Art Museum November 14 – Homestead National Monument Participation is FREE and registration is limited to eight dial-in sites per event. The allotted spaces will be confirmed on a firstcome-first-serve basis. Dial-up instructions and test calls will be scheduled with those making the live connections. (Participation in the live events requires access to H.323 videoconferencing equipment.) To register, go to NE DLWeek is brought to you by the Nebraska Distance Learning Association (NDLA) in conjunction with the USDLA National Distance Learning Week. Also, reserve March 6 & 7, 2014 on your calendar and plan to attend the Spring NDLA Conference. Its for everybody. To learn more watch our Prezi at

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Distance Learning Elementary Science Program


cience is one of the four core disciplines in the American system of education, along with English, social studies and mathematics. Albert Einstein insisted that science is as essential as the others because it facilitates education’s goal, “to produce independently thinking and acting individuals” (Duschl, 2007). A 2002 national survey (Fulp, 2002) found that fortytwo percent of elementary teachers have four or fewer semesters of science coursework throughout their training. This suggests that these teachers do not have sufficient background to adequately teach science. It is also found that fewer than three in ten elementary teachers consider themselves well pre-

by Annette Wiese

pared to teach the sciences even though the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century considers elementary school generalists math and science teachers. Preparing such teachers and their students to excel in STEM teaching and learning and to instill a love of science is the focus of Educational Service Unit #5’s distance learning science program. Since August 2007, Educational Service Unit 5 in Beatrice, Nebraska has been using distance learning technologies to bring high-quality science instruction into rural fifth and sixth grade classrooms on a weekly basis and to third and fourth grade classrooms on a bi-weekly basis. Instruction in this program is standards-based, hands-on and STEM centered. Classroom teachers were brought into the service unit to work with the highly qualified science teachers, who had been hired to develop and implement the program’s curriculum. Nebraska state standard content was chosen, unpacked and aligned so that the curriculum taught through the ESU program would sufficiently match and support what was also being taught in the district science classes and required at the state level. All needed materials (manipulatives, copies, lesson plans, and ideas for lesson extensions) are sent out to classrooms by the center-based science teacher before the session takes place. Classroom teachers are required to stay with their class and participate in the distance learning lessons which last from 30-45 minutes. Professional development for the classroom teachers occurs in a couple of different ways through the center-based science program. First of all the lessons implemented within the classrooms serve not only as science instruction for the students, but also as a model of best practice to classroom teachers. As teachers are expected to help facilitate the lesson with the students, they become more comfortable with both the science content and the hands-on, inquiry-based, STEM methods utilized to teach them. Professional development has also been offered through grade span meetings during the month of June. Teachers sign up to come to the ESU to learn more about sci-

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ence content in a hands-on, inquiry-based manner. The Distance Learning Science Program uses cutting-edge technology to dramatically change the way science is taught making it extremely dynamic. The development of the curriculum has included a direct connection to chroma key technology, which has been centered into the heart of the delivery of the curriculum. A teacher, who is displayed in an

ecosystem, can show the relationships of one form of life to the others. A teacher, who is displayed in the mouth of a volcano, can show the source of lava that erupts and what happens to the ear th through this geophysical occurrence. This new approach to provide distance education at the elementary grade levels is rich in future program applications. Existing center based programs

Safari Montage

can be a resource for designed curriculum and instruction. Once the curriculum, materials and instructional design have been developed and tested, new locations could bring this same curriculum to their students through the same distance learning technologies. In this way we can reach even the most rural areas of Nebraska, improving instruction for all students.

by Beth Kabes

One project progressing from the statewide BlendEd initiative across Nebraska is the Learning Object Repository project, otherwise known as Safari-Montage LOR. All ESUs in Nebraska are participating in this project in order to provide a consistent system for students, teachers and administrators. The LOR will be able to store assets for face to face courses, online courses, blended courses of online and face to face, and professional development activities. Current testing is underway to identify best practices for the system and steps to streamline use. As a result of the testing, an upgrade of the NE systems, Version 5.9, is scheduled to rollout in late October. In addition to the updated version, Learn360 content will be available within the LOR to those schools already using the streaming subscription service. To get started, contact your ESU to confirm the URL of the system, your username and password and a memorandum of understanding for use. Watch for local opportunities regarding informational sessions to learn more about the LOR, how to search through available assets, as well as how to upload user content for classroom use. Learn more and to get a pre-look at the system from the Safari Montage HD Network and register to join the discussion at

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Teaching a Distance Learning Class Via a Portable Cart

by Molly Aschoff

The technology of videoconferencing has advanced rapidly in past years. High definition cameras, echo cancelling mics, greater bandwidths levels, and students each having a mobile device all contributes to greater learning experiences. At one time mobile cart systems were believed to be best utilized for receiving classes only, but as schools began to send more and more classes the mobile cart systems are now being used for sending classes. Teachers are replicating the room based learning opportunities through the cart system. Most all HD codecs allow you to connect, via VGA cables, your computer in order to send content. If you use Polycom equipment you can download People + Content from, which allows you to connect and send content over the wireless network to the codec. This allows anything that is on your computer to be shown and sent to remote sites. Teachers are using USB document cameras, splitters to send content to their white boards and the codecs simultaneously, and LiveScribe pens to record and post notes. Teachers also successfully share documents with students at all sites with a LMS, webpage, wiki space, or Google doc/sites. In all Distance Learning classes it is important to have a means of communicating with students either through chats, email, direct messaging or text messaging in order to relay important messages about the class or for students to ask questions. Teachers and students both report that classes go better when the teacher and students are familiar with the equipment and feel confident in using them. DL Accounting teacher, Lance Howitt from Stuart says, “I was very unsure about teaching on the cart at first but now I really enjoy it.”

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Improving DL Instruction The summer theme for the 2nd annual virtual distance learning teacher workshop was “Improvement of Instruction in the DL Classroom.” Nebraska’s ESU distance learning directors sponsored the July 29 event with 10 different ESUs serving as video conference hosting sites for the day long event. As Improvement of Instruction is the underlying theme for any teacher workshop, this year’s conference took on special emphasis as the ESU distance learning directors shared their “7 Look Fors” comparing instructional differences between videoconferencing and the face-toface classroom. The basis for these instructional strategies was taken from the

results of surveys given last spring to distance learning teachers (72 responses), students in distance learning classes (466 responses), and principals of schools who sent or received distance learning classes (74 responses). The “7 Look Fors” provide a starting point for providing distance learning teachers with strategies to improve the educational experience in a videoconferencing class for both the teacher and student. Distance Learning Manual - A new statewide online manual was introduced at this year’s conference. Through the efforts of ESU distance education directors, distance learning teachers now have a “single point of reference” for resources

by John Stritt

related to distance learning. BlendEd, collaborative virtual field trips, and technology were highlighted throughout the conference. A series of distance education teacher interviews from schools across Nebraska provided support for each topic. Realizing that improvement of instruction is an ongoing process and not a one-day summer training, ESU DL directors will be presenting a year long series of improvement of instruction videos along with “Try this in your DL Classroom” practices. The first in that series is “Improving DL Instruction.”

The Distance Learning Manual can be found online at -

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Why Nebraska is a Leade From an interview of Gordon Roethemeyer for the Public Sector View Why does distance learning via video teleconferencing work so well in Nebraska? I think is partly due to our demographics, there are lots of small towns in Nebraska and people are willing to help each other out. For almost 20 years schools have been sharing advanced math, Foreign Language, Ag, and other classes. Videoconferencing just made sense as the best technology for schools to use to share teachers and extend instruction. A good teacher is a good teacher and that doesn’t change when they are in front of a camera. Good distance-learning teachers will tell you that the technology becomes transparent; as far they are concerned it is just a tool that allows them to extend their classroom and reach more kids. But the technology has gotten so much better too and our state legislature gets a lot of credit for helping schools upgrade their distance-learning equipment over the last several years and for providing incentives for the exchange of distance learning classes and the timing could not have been better. In the last five years, because of the State’s investment in distance-learning 1. Nebraska has: Built one of the most robust and economical statewide networks for education in the country. In fact, Network Nebraska is a finalist for recognition by a national association of State CIOs for the innovative way that it built its network. 2. Nebraska had 18% per year growth from 2006 – 2012 in the number of distance-learning courses exchanged statewide by Nebraska schools due to the purchase of hundreds portable video conference systems so that more subjects are being taught via distance-learning than ever before. 3. Nebraska has: Given students the opportunity to take many more classes than they ever could before. Statewide enrollment in synchronous distance-learning classes last year topped 11,000 students. 4. Nebraska has: given K-12 education the opportunity to pursue an impressive blended learning initiative that will feature both synchronous and asynchronous course offerings and many opportunities for personalized learning. A state8 • esucc fall magazine •

wide Learning Objects Repository is in place, a statewide Identity Management schema is being implemented, and there is rapid growth in the use of H.323 mobile videoconferencing clients on handheld technology like iPads, smart phones, and Surface devices. What is the role of the Educational Service Units? ESUs provide educational support services to schools such as: school psychologists, SPED services, Staff Development, educational technology training, Internet services, eLearning and distancelearning support services. Tell me about your innovative work with the Manhattan School of Music. This is an example of personalized learning at its best. We began a pilot project with the Manhattan School of Music in NY back in 2009 when we got a teacher at Omaha Central High School to agree to have his Jazz Choir participate in ensemble coaching lessons taught by Nathan Hetherington from MSM. The teacher, Colin Brown, loved it, the students loved it and we knew we had something. For the next three years I worked with my distancelearning coordinators in Nebraska’s 17 ESUs to come up with enough funding each year so that we could have more students participate in either group lessons or get individual instruction. We wrote grants, sought sponsor funding, ask for help from music parent groups and did whatever we could. Then in the fall of 2012 we started thinking about Blended Learning and Personalized Instruction. We started thinking about how videoconferencing could be used in ways that support methods of blended learning that place the teacher in the role of facilitator of instruction for small groups of students, and frees them up to work with other students. So, in a sense the Polycom system that a school has is used a as a learning center that supports the teacher. This works especially well for providing hard to find lessons in music such as, lessons for the oboe, bassoon, cello, double base, etc. Or, we have even had voice lessons in Spanish for English Language Learners whose music teachers don’t speak

der in Distance Learning the language. We have been able to get Chanter lessons for an aspiring student that wants to learn to play the bagpipes. So, we what we did is build Special distance-learning classes for music that are eligible to earn the distance-learning incentives that I mentioned earlier. These special classes don’t follow the traditional model of daily instruction by the teacher over distance-learning. They are blended learning classes that provide personalized instruction to students at different schools all with their own specific lesson times. We pair schools up to make a “qualified DL class” that meets state requirements. Teachers take

We are intent on exploring other ways that synchronous videoconferencing can support blended lea r n in g a nd ind ividual i ze d instr u c tion.” on the role of facilitators who team together to plan the objectives, evaluate the outcomes and ensure that high quality instruction takes place from the teaching artists at MSM.

What was the funding mechanism for this project, and the ROI? The program is funded through the incentive dollars that are paid for the exchange of distance learning classes. Nebraska encourages the exchange of distance-learning classes by paying schools up to $1000 per semester per synchronous distance-learning class exchanged. The Special DL Music Classes are designed to meet all requirements in order to earn incentive dollars and the schools that participate in the program sign a MOU agreeing to pay MSM for the lessons at the end of each semester. The schools then receive payment for the incentives they earn throughout the year in August following any summer school classes. Incentive dollars come out of Nebraska’s state lottery funds. Th e m o r e s c h o o l u s e t h e v i d e o c o n f e r e n c i n g equipment they have invested in the more quickly they get a return on their investment. In fact, with the incentives, and money saved by use of VC to cut down on travel, estimates are that schools can recover the cost of equipment in as little as one year. ESUs and the Nebraska Department of Education try to support efforts to reduce travel costs by holding as many meetings and workshops as possible online via videoconferencing over large bridges. What’s on the horizon next? This fall we are piloting Special DL Classes for the visual arts. We are doing a couple of classes right

now that are focused on i n c r e a s i n g the number artist residencies in schools. We have teachers in four schools teamed up to help us refine and further develop a blended learning approach to art instruction. One of the things we decided right away is that we needed to get more artists residencies happening in more schools. So, each school that participates will earn enough in DL incentives to pay to have an artist residency for one-week onsite at their school. The beauty of using videoconferencing and designing the class as a blended learning course is that schools can then share the residency experience with their partner schools. So, each school will get one on-site residency and can then have their students participate, through virtual presence, in the residencies at their partner schools. Artists love it and we have Education Outreach Specialists from the Joslyn Art Museum and the Museum of Nebraska Art involved too to provide lessons from the museums. We are intent on exploring other ways that synchronous videoconferencing can support blended learning and individualized instruction. We want to have classing in the performing arts, literature, we are trying to get robotics taught in more schools by teaming experienced robotics teachers with teachers at other schools that want to start robotics at their school. Other plans include doing more and more with flipped learning. Most of the videoconferencing systems in our schools now either have the built-in capability to record or can record sessions by going through a bridge. esucc fall magazine • • 9

Comparison of Software MCUs and Cloud-Based Multipoint Description

Name of Software Client that Users Download

Call Rate & FPS

Acano (Software MCU Example)

Acano is a new player in the industry, offering software solution that unites “previously incompatible audio, video and web technologies” in “coSpaces” which are essentially cloud virtual meeting rooms. Major video standards are supported including H.264 AVC, SVC, WebM / VP8, Microsoft RTVideo, and said to support H.265 as well.

No software needs to be downloaded rather users meet in a virtual meeting room called a coSpace.

Up to 1080p at 30 fps


Avaya / Radvision is offering the Elite 6000 Series - Avaya Flare / software-based hybrid multi-point control unit pro- Radvision Scopia viding high port density up to 40 full 1080p HD ports (80 720p) on a single 1U system.

Up to 1080p at 60 fps

Cisco (Provides cloud based videoconferencing solution call WebEX and hardware MCU that offers a desktop VC client called Jabber)

Cisco does not offer software-MCU that can be deployed on-premise. They do however offer cloud Videoconferencing service called – Cisco WebEx Telepresence.

Nothing to down- Up to 1080p load if using cloud at 30 fps service - WebEX. Cisco bridge users can download a client called Jabber.

LifeSize UVC Multipoint is a software-MCU that can ClearSea LifeSize (Also currently testing a be installed on industry-standard servers. It supports H.263 and H.264, SVC video standards and interopWebRTC server solution) erability with Lync (Microsoft RTVideo).

Up to 1080p at 30 fps

Pexip (Software MCU Example)

Pexip is a new start-up that offers pure-software Infinity based MCU called Infinity, which will be available from September. It can be deployed on industry-standard servers in a VMware virtualized environment and port capacity can be easily scaled up by adding more servers.

Did not find

Polycom RealPresence Collaboration Server (Software MCU solution from Polycom for those that don’t have an RMX MCU bridge)

The Polycom RealPresence Collaboration Server 800s, RealPresence Virtual Edition is a multi-protocol, integrated, software-based multipoint MCU running on x86 servers. Mainly designed for mid-sized enterprises or to expand an existing RealPresence Collaboration Server (RMX) environment.

Up to 720p at 30 fps

Vidtel (Service Provider that provides cloud based videoconferencing solution call MeetMe

Vidtel is primarily a service provider; offer hosted cloud Videoconferencing solution, labeled MeetMe – it’s a cloud-based, The infrastructure for video conferencing is hosted on a Vidtel central cloud and each participant is given a private meeting room ID and a login PIN; they use this to join MeetMe.


Vidyo solution consists of Vidyo Router at its center, VidyoMobile offered also as a virtual edition (VE), which performs transcoding-free packet switching using their patented Adaptive Video Layering (AVL) technology which introduces low-latency video-streams for endpoints over any IP network. Supports native rate and resolution matching per endpoint, up to 1440p at 60fps.

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Nothing to download uses cloud-based solution called MeetMe

Up to 720p at 30 fps

Up to 1440p at 60 fps

Videoconferencing that Support Desktop and Mobile Clients Number of Concurrent Users Supported

Notable Features

Appears to be limited only by the server or servers used to host the coSpaces. CoSpaces are “persistent” so you can have one for each project

People can use whatever devices they have to call into a coSpace, including mobile phones, tablets, PCs, Microsoft Lync clients or video endpoints.

Comments about what to expect to pay. Unclear, total cost of ownership is supposed to be much less than owning an paying maintenance on a hardware MCU.

Things to Consider before Selecting any Solution 1.

What are your needs?


What are others with whom you do business using?


Is interoperability important to you? • with H.323 • • with Legacy equipment • with Skype • with WebRTC • with Google Hangouts • with others in K-12 education


Will the solution or service you are selecting be a money pit in terms of ongoing maintenance or licensing fees?


Will grant funding be used to purchase the product?


Will the technology work on all devices? • laptops • smart phones • tablets/iPads

The Elite 6000 supports 40 All the major video stan- Frost & Sullivan, “The Elite full 1080p HD ports or 80 dards are supported as 6000 Series does exactly well as interoperability with what a hardware-based ports at 720p. other vendors. MCU does, but with more capacities and lower cost per port.” Basic: Meet with up to 8 people. Premium Meet up to 25 people.

Cisco has done a good job of providing a completely integrated approach to multiconferencing

Basic $ 24 per host/per month. Premium $ 49 per host/per month.

Maximum of 128 partici- Customers can purchase one pants in a single confer- port at a time. Administrators ence. can control the quality and capacity of each port, ranging from 360p for mobile users to 1080p

Costs would include LifeSize UVC Multipoint SoftwareBased Bridge (5 flex ports) that would needed to be installed on a server, plus yearly maintenance.

Can support use of 40 video It will support H.263 and H.264, SVC, VP8 video ports simultaneously. codecs as well as interoperability with WebRTC and Lync.

Licensing for Infinity is per port or per user/month. Estimates are that users will pay about what yearly maintenance on a hardware MCU would be.

Software MCU solution from Polycom for those that don’t have an RMX MCU bridge

Provides open standards scalable video coding (SVC) support and interoperability with systems that use advanced video coding (AVC)

Can support use of 20 “Any-to-any” videoconferencing video endpoints simulta- service which supports interoperability between neously SIP, H.323, Google Talk, Skype, and WebRTC.

The VidyoRouter VE comes in two models – VE 100 and VE 25 offering 100 and 25 concurrent HD connections respectively,

It can be deployed on industry standard servers and is “VMware Ready” certified. Interoperability with legacy systems requires the use of VidyoGateway.

Cost of 800 Virtual Edition software based server. Will be less than purchasing RMX hardware but will still have maintenance costs. 7. Cloud video meeting rooms start at $199/month for an unlimited use 6-participant bridge, or customers can use HD videoconferencing 8. for $0.20/minute per participant. Must purchase Vidyo Router or VidyoRouter Cloud Edition introduces a new level of scalability, efficiency and cost-savings


What is the maximum number of simultaneous user will anticipate needing to support? Do you anticipate having student use a mobile client to receive distance-learning instruction? Does working with others on a enterprise deployment make more sense? esucc fall magazine • • 11

E-rate 2.0

by SuAnn Witt and Tom Rolfes

The Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was released by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC)

The comment reply period extends from September 16 to October 16, 2013, and at the time of this writing, it is Ahhh, E-rate. Love it or hate it, it has been providing schools and libraries with discounts on telecommunications services for about 15 years. Although the application process can be arduous, it has nonetheless been deemed one of the most successful programs of the Universal Service Fund. Through the years the program has gone through several revisions, the latest being the FCC’s Sixth Report and Order that was released September 28, 2010. However, new technologies and increased demand on the fund have given voice to one FCC Commissioner to push the idea of an E-rate reboot, or E-rate 2.0. FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel announced that she will champion the schools and library program revitalization; her vision, “to protect what we have already done, build on it, and put this program on a course to provide higher speed and greater opportunity.” As a result of the Commissioner’s actions (which may have been in coordination with steps toward the following release) a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was released by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau on July 23, 2013. Here are some interesting facts about the NPRM: The document is 175 pages long, and contains 466 footnotes and 75 pages of appendices. The phrase, “We seek comment…” appears in the document 477 times among 338 numbered paragraphs. The question mark symbol, “?,” appears 616 times among 357 conceptual items. The major headings of the NPRM include: • • •

Introduction Goals and Measures Ensuring Schools and Libraries have Affordable Access to 21st Century Broadband that supports

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• Digital Learning

• • • •

Maximizing the Cost Effectiveness of E-rate Funds Streamlining the Administration of the E-rate Program Other Outstanding Issues Procedural Matters

Once the NPRM concluded on September 16, 2013, the FCC had received 682 unduplicated submissions, including: • • •

367 one-page filings 117 two-page filings 198 filings with 3+ pages

The comment reply period extends from September 16 to October 16, 2013. However, the government shutdown that occurred on October 1 (and still in effect at the time of this writing) may change these deadlines. Although the sheer immensity of the comments defies the ability to easily summarize, several recurring themes and concerns were presented: • The E-rate program has been very successful at connecting schools and libraries to the Internet and entities have come to depend upon the fund to help make telecommunications services affordable • The total dollar value of Priority 1 and Priority 2 program requests is growing faster than the inflationary growth of the fund, currently at $2.38 billion • The program funding will need to be increased or the eligible services reduced or both, if the program hopes to make affordable the telecommunications necessary for a 21st century digital education • More assessments and measurements are needed to help identify and mitigate under-served and un-served areas or areas of unusually high cost • The application and review process needs to be streamlined and simplified • Consortia applications, particularly from statewide networks, have generally contributed to lower and more competitive pricing for telecommunications services and equipment If anyone would like to search and/or read the submitted or reply comments once the FCC website is reactivated, they may point their browser to: (Search Proceeding Number “13-184” AFTER “7/26/2013”). There were reportedly three comment submissions from Nebraska: Millard Public Schools, Northeast Community College, and the State Office of the CIO. This report was compiled by Tom Rolfes, Education I.T. Manager, Office of the CIO/NITC, State of Nebraska; tom., 402-471-7969.

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Connected initiative

by Tom Rolfes

President Obama’s Plan for Connecting All Schools to the Digital Age


n June 6, 2013, President Obama traveled to Mooresville, North Carolina and gave a speech which called on the Federal Communications Commission to take the steps necessary to build high-speed digital connections to America’s schools and libraries, ensuring that 99 percent of American students can benefit from these advances in teaching and learning by 2018. He also asked the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get this technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages. And he is calling on businesses, states, districts, schools and communities to support this vision. The ConnectED Initiative will rely on three main strategies: (a) Connecting America’s Schools with next-generation broadband; (b) improving teaching through better training and more high quality digital resources; and (c) the unleashing of private sector innovation in the development of learning tools. CONNECTING AMERICA’S SCHOOLS The ConnectED initiative would jump-start the effort to connect American students to today’s modern broadband connections, and help them keep pace access across the country. *Upgraded Connectivity: The ConnectED initiative will, within five years, connect 99 percent of America’s students, through next-generation broadband (at speeds no less than 100Mbps and with a target of 1Gbps) to, and high-speed wireless within, their schools and libraries. The President is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize and leverage the existing E-Rate program, and leverage the expertise of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to deliver this connectivity to states, districts, and schools. *Leveling the Playing Field for Rural Students: Rural communities will experience some of the greatest benefits of new education technologies, as ConnectED will help provide new learning opportunities to level the playing field for rural students. The Universal Service Fund has been transformative in the past twenty years providing rural communities with telephone services, and now broadband. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) has helped us connect under-served community anchor institutions. ConnectED builds on those efforts, with greater returns for communities finding it difficult to attract broadband investment. IMPROVING TEACHING ConnectED will provide educators with the infrastructure and tools to accelerate student learning, regardless of subject area or age group. *Trained Teachers: The ConnectED initiative invests in improving the skills of teachers, ensuring that every educator in America receives support and training to use technology to help improve student outcomes. The Department of Education will work with states and school districts to better use existing funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to strategically invest in this kind of professional development to help teachers keep pace with changing technological and professional demands. *New Resources for Teachers: ConnectED will lead to new resources for teachers from any school, at any time, to open their classrooms to interactive demonstrations, lessons from world-renowned experts, or the opportunity to build learning communities and to collaborate with other educators across the country or world. New digital education tools that allow for real-time assessments of student learning, provide more immediate feedback to drive professional development, and enable the creation of interactive online lessons can empower teachers to understand each student’s strengths and weaknesses and design lessons and activities that better meet their needs. Our teachers are being asked to do more than ever, and they need to be equipped with better tools to help them succeed. With the right investments, technology can play a central role.

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UNLEASHING PRIVATE-SECTOR INNOVATION Educational devices supported by high-speed networks are the portal to the world of online learning and interactive content, to personalized education software that adapts to students’ needs, and to breakthrough advances in assessing understanding and mastery. *Educational Devices for Students: Leading companies in technology are capable of producing feature-rich educational devices that are price-competitive with basic textbooks. Districts that choose to purchase devices can come together to purchase them in volume to achieve greater cost savings— but purchasing choices remain in the hands of local educational leaders.

The durability of American competitiveness will be tied to our ability to produce graduates with the skills the economy demands. More information about the ConnectED Initiative is available at:

*Exposing Students to Global Opportunities with New Technology: With access to high-speed broadband and digital technologies, students can have access to more rigorous and engaging classes, new learning resources, rich visualizations of complex concepts, and instruction in any foreign language. Without access to this technology, students would continue to be constrained by the limits of resources at their specific schools – limited by zip code when they could be exposed to global opportunities. With new technology, students also have increased opportunities to work at their own speed and receive additional one-on-one help they need to develop their knowledge and skills. *Support for Digital Educational Content: A robust market in educational software can unlock the full educational potential of these investments and create American jobs and export opportunities in a global education marketplace of over $1 trillion. Third-party validators can help schools find educational software (including apps) that provide content aligned with college- and careerready standards being adopted and implemented by States across America. *Restoring U.S. Leadership in Vital Areas: For the better part of the 20th century the United States led the world in educational achievement and attainment. Through the federal E-Rate program, we pioneered connecting schools to the internet. But the United States is now falling behind, squandering that early lead. Many of our leading competitors are moving forward with aggressive investments in digital learning and technology education. In South Korea, all schools are connected to the internet with high-speed connections, all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016. esucc fall magazine • • 15

Wanted: Lessons in the Dramatic and performing Arts What if the videoconferencing equipment in your school was utilized as a independent learning center that students could use to get lessons from experience actors, a forensics teacher, or an expert in improvisation? This type of thing is already being done to bring high quality lessons to students who love music. Let’s help all students develop the talents they have.

Call 1-308-865-5664 ext. 294 or visit to star t the conversation and help Ar ts Learning get trac tion.

ESUCC Fall Magazine October 2013  

Features ESU #5 DL Science Program for Elementary Students. Provides Matrix of Software MCUs Reports of eRate 2.0 & ConnectEd