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2012-13 esucc distance-learning review

year•end•report July 2013

making music with New York Connections


Network Nebraska How its grown Participation up! Usage Increased! Bandwidth costs down! Collaboration - IMPRESSIVE!

WhY the BlendED initiative is so important A Vision Shared Safarii Rollout LDAP & InCommon Incentives Work

Sustaining innovations that enhance learning

Features 04 BlendED Initiative Dr. Matt Blomstedt

06 Making Music with NYC

Molly Aschoff

20 Why Incentives are Important

John Stritt with Beth Kabes

DL Report 08 Network Nebraska Tom Rolfes

16 The Year in Review Gordon Roethemeyer 22 Top 5 Virtual Field Trips

Gordon Roethemeyer

The Year Ahead 07 Identity Management

Scott Isaacson

15 Learning Objects Repository 18 Desktop & Mobile Videoconferencing

Linda Dickeson

24 Artists Residencies via DL

Gordon Roethemeyer

Consider this 03 Disruptive? Yes

Gordon Roethemeyer

27 The Nebraska Way

2 • year•end•report magazine •

Dr. Bob Uhing


by Gord o

n Roeth


? Yes!

I read with interest anything that is written by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn or Heather Stalker because they are probably the most respected researchers on innovative trends and they have given us the most accepted definition for blended learning along with guidelines for what those of us in K-12 education can do to foster innovation. They are also MBAs so I regard what they write with what I consider to be a healthy bit of skepticism because I am not convinced that models that are intended to reduce cost and maximize profits in the corporate world ought be, or can be, directly applied to K-12 education. Nevertheless, I am for disruptive innovation in education so I am attentive to the gurus. In their fourth, most recent, white paper titled Is K–12 blended

learning disruptive?
An introduction of the theory of hybrids they make this prediction-

“We predict that hybrid schools, which combine existing schools with new classroom models, will be the dominant model of schooling in the United States in the future. But within secondary schools, the disruptive models of blended learning will substantially replace traditional classrooms over the long term.' In Nebraska K-12 distance-learning is becoming more and more a hybrid model that combines face-to-face instruction with both synchronous and asynchronous instruction and there is disruptive innovation occurring in areas of nonconsumption just as Christensen and others say are the most likely areas for innovation to occur first. I see innovation occurring first is in the Arts and in courses that are not currently offered in many schools such as Robotics, Principles of Engineering and perhaps also in career education courses. This report highlights some examples of innovation that are occurring. year•end•report magazine • • 3

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Blended initiative ESUs have sought to build the modern infrastructure and have done that with many partnerships. Perhaps be st of whi ch is th e in f r a structure partnership of Network Nebraska.

Nebraska is a diverse but, somehow cohesive place. We enjoy many amenities across the state including wide open spaces in our sand hills, art museums, urban centers with rich traditions and civic pride, small towns, big cities, cultural and historic sites that demonstrate that this land is rich with stories. I often find myself in awe of the beautiful scenery the enchanting towns and cities and constant sense of pride in “our” accomplishments. Among these critical accomplishments is the vision for an education system that recognizes Nebraska’s unique needs across the school districts across the state. Educational Service Units have long served to help establish equitable opportunities across regions of the state and help ensure that school districts, ultimately students, have the best resources possible to enhance educational offerings and educational outcomes. However, in this new digital

4 • year•end•report magazine •

world this job gets bigger, more complex,

The ESU Coordinating Council, over the

and more important.

last year, established a vision for “BlendEd,” blended education that unites our ESU

“There is far more to come. This can get really technical

Educational equity in the 21st Century is

skills and talent to begin to organize edu-

something educators and policy makers

cational media, content, courses, and sys-

and its easy to get lost in

have been talking about for two decades.

tems that allow individual school districts,

ESUs were legislatively charged with

teachers, and students to realize the bene-

such discussions.”

bringing the Internet to school districts.

fit of the “Cloud.” The ESUCC took the steps

They were also charged with organiz-

in March to begin to implement a substan-

Just know that such systems are built to

ing educational opportunities through

tial element of the BlendEd plan. Over the

connect to and unite other digital materi-

instructional materials, distance educa-

next few months ESUs across the state will

als systems. They are built to connect to

tion, and the professional development

be working in concert to organize a “learn-

national, state, and local resources. They

that is the glue to connect opportunities

ing object repository” powered by Safari

are designed to accomplish both scale in

with learning.

Montage. This “LOR” is the beginning of

the acquisition and retention of materials,

a powerful system that will allow school

and deliver them efficiently and effectively

Early in our state’s history, the necessary

districts to unite in developing and shar-

to your classrooms and your students’

infrastructure was built on the ground…

ing educational content. Additionally, this


railroads, highways, interstates, freeway-

educational content system is enhanced by

spublic power lines, and the landscape

the ability to link to other educational con-

The ESUs remain dedicated to building

was also dotted with towns and school

tent systems that make sharing resources

systems for this future vision. However, it

buildings. We created educational oppor-

across the state a reality.

is the whole state, the human network of

tunities, almost out of the air. Urban places

educators that is most critical to a system’s

focused on scaled and modern education

Building this BlendEd system on the “back-

success. We appreciate your partnership in

systems while much of rural Nebraska

bone” of a very successful distance educa-

all such efforts.

carved out a niche and sought scale over

tion system is critical from an educational

time through reorganization and, eventu-

philosophy of local uniqueness as well as

ally, regionalization.

accounts for scalable systems. Allowing every school building and student in the

Now our education infrastructure is being

state to tap into a shared set of rich edu-

built in the sky… Or perhaps you’ve heard

cational resources while also ensuring that

of the “Cloud”… That is where educational

local school districts maintain their own

opportunities are increasingly being built

perspective and control has been the phi-

across the state. ESUs have sought to build

losophy established in distance education.

the modern infrastructure and have done

The system allows districts to collaborate

that with many partnerships. Perhaps best

to enhance their own offerings rather than

of which is the infrastructure partnership of

somehow abdicating local control. I would

Network Nebraska. This “information super-

have it no other way. This is not a “build

highway” continues to develop lanes, on-

it and they will come” approach. After all,

ramps, off-ramps, and wide shoulders. You

we are not Iowa. (“Field of Dreams” refer-

can get to one of the state to the other in a

ence in case you missed it). Instead, the

video conference meeting or perhaps sit in

build out of this system has been based on

an Omaha classroom and take a class with

actual needs of school districts, the coordi-

a student in Ainsworth. Teachers can team

nation of ESU systems and services already

teach students and never meet face-to-face.

in place, and the vision to unite efforts that

With technology you can be in the same

enhance local educational opportunities.

place at the same time or in the “same place” at a different time. Our education system is

There is far more to come. This can get

changing and we in Nebraska are uniquely

really technical, (mind boggling) and it

able to adapt this change to our local needs.

is easy to get lost in such discussions. year•end•report magazine • • 5

Nam ut massa turpis, ac blandit justo. Nulla ultrices, odio commodo faucibus commodo, mi nisi tempor” 6 • year•end•report magazine •

Identity Management & Incommon: what it all means

by Scott Issacson

As our electronic lives continue to expand, we access increas-

Federating means agreeing to a framework to exchange identity

ing numbers of resources via our computers and mobile devices.

information with another system in a secure and controlled way.

These resources, such as e-mail, student information systems,

Once federated, systems in Nebraska will be able to provide

learning management systems, media, and reference materials to

identity information to other systems to gain access to those

name a few, are typically protected by a username and password

resources and to accept identity information from others to

combination, often referred to as login credentials. These systems

allow access to Nebraska resources. In many cases, the identity

in many cases are not linked to each other and maintain sepa-

information shared is limited, such as “this is a 9th grade biology

rate collections of usernames and passwords. As a user, it can

student from Nebraska.” That limited identity is sufficient for a

become difficult to track which username and password applies

remote system to allow access to appropriate course materials

to each system. Password management tools such as LastPass

for that student. If a staff member needed access to a collabora-

and others have proliferated to help users with this problem.

tive project in another state, more information can be shared:

From a systems perspective, maintaining these parallel identities

“This is John Smith, a 9th grade biology teacher at Omaha Public

makes it more difficult to correlate data, for example between a

Schools.” In both scenarios, the service provider chooses to trust

learning management system and a student information system.

that the identity provider has verified the user is who he claims

Technical administration and support efforts are higher when

to be (authentication). The identity provider chooses to expose a

creating and maintaining separate accounts on multiple systems.

limited amount of identity information and trusts the service pro-

Multiple accounts can be less secure because there is a higher

vider to use it appropriately and give access to shared resources

possibility an account will be left active longer than necessary, a

(authorization). InCommon reviews and approves federation

password not changed when needed or a compromised account

member applications, expecting members to publish and follow

not detected as easily. Students or staff attending or delivering

best practice Identity Management operating procedures. The

a class via distance learning may need to have yet another set

same technical framework will allow the ESUs to federate with

of credentials with another school or ESU to gain access to the

each other and other organizations who aren’t part of InCommon.

resources needed for that class. High-level components of the ongoing identity management Identity Management principles address the concerns of overall security of identities, synchronized and appropriate access to systems and resources, crossing the boundaries of school districts, ESUs, states and even nations. Technical leaders at a number

projects are:

1. An identity store—a system to hold identities and associated information. Typically this is an LDAP directory.

2. User account management (provisioning)—systems for

of ESUs have been working to solve these challenges and their

creating and managing user identities in ONE place and

efforts are taking another step forward this year through a pilot

delegating that responsibility to district and building

project involving InCommon. InCommon is an organization spon-

personnel as appropriate

sored by Internet2 to bring together educational institutions and resource providers with a common framework for Identity Management and to support the sharing of resources in education and research in the United States. InCommon has traditionally only been available to colleges and universities, but this year will be allowing a limited number of K-12 networks to par-

3. Federation—connecting the identity management system to others to exchange identity information in a controlled, secure way

4. Service provider integration—connecting internal and existing services to the identity management system

5. Statewide integration—promoting and aligning with

ticipate in their federation. In Nebraska, the NNNC (ESUs 1,2,7,8

best practices to build optimal interfaces between

and 17) and the GNENC (ESUs 10,11,13,15, and 16) are planning

directories at all K-12 levels.

to federate with each other and with the InCommon federation. year•end•report magazine • • 7

making music 50+ sign up for special DL summer music classes

Dl connections to Manhattan, New York

It is often very challenging for students

teaching artists from Manhattan School

This partnership with Manhattan School

with a passion for music to get the kind

of Music and students in rural areas of

of Music (MSM) and Nebraska schools in

of support and nurturing they need in


this area started as individual cello lesson

order to more fully develop their talents.

for a young Neligh student named Abby

Many times if a student wants to pursue

The easiest, most enjoyable, most effec-

Erwin. Abby has taken two years of private

a musical instrument that is not of the

tive way to learn any instrument is with

lesson and plans to continue those lessons

mainstream, they must travel many miles

the personal guidance of a teacher who’s

through the summer months before she

to find lessons. The music teacher in the

already developed the skills you want

heads off to college. Speaking to a group

local school is often both the vocal and

to learn. Video conferencing brings that

of interested music teachers Abby said,

instrumental teacher and not schooled in

method up to date, the two-way system

“I think Manhattan has definitely opened

all musical instruments. The high-speed

allows the student to see and hear the

alot of doors for me as far as the cello

Network Nebraska IP network has cre-

teaching artist as they keep a watchful ear

and my outlook on music.” Abby plans

ated the answer for this problem, oppor-

and eye on the student’s phrasings and

to attend UNO in the fall and play in the

tunities for connecting highly experienced

postures, among many other things.

orchestra and try out for their symphony.

8 • year•end•report magazine •

Music teacher, Nate Metschke, spreading

ists with the appropriate knowledge that

his enthusiasm for the program to other

is needed. Teachers have been thrilled, for

music teachers. Nate believes that every

example, to find bassoon, french horn and

school in the state of Nebraska has an

oboe lessons. Getting students lined with

Abby that could benefit from the special

special online instruction, especially when

distance-learning music classes that result

it is synchronous online instruction, frees

Norfolk and Stanton.

out of the partnership with the Manhattan

the teacher up to work with other groups

School of Music. The classes are an exam-

of students and raises the level of what is

The project grew into ten weeks of summer

ple of innovative uses of videoconferenc-

learned for all students. One school is even

ing that are part of Blended Learning.

providing vocal lessons in Spanish for two

This past year the number of schools participating in this area, with the help of a Nebraska Arts Council Grant, increased to four; a Jazz Ensemble group from Pierce, cello lessons to Norfolk, Neligh, and Stanton, and double reed lessons to

classes with the lessons being just one component of the instruction. Students are responsible to log their practice time and perform for their local instructors often in preparation to audition for District or State competitions. The schools earn Distance Education Incentive dollars by putting together these special music classes. The incentives help offset the cost of the lessons. The project recently blossomed into

11 classes involving five schools

and 50+ students for the summer. Part of this growth was due to Neligh High

I think Manhattan has definitely opened a lot of doors for me as far as the cello and my outlook on music” Abby Ervin Neligh - Oakdale graduate.

About this model

talented sisters. Where would this instruction come from except through a problem like this?

The special distance-learning classes fit the definition of “qualified distance-learn-

The special DL music classes will serve

ing class” even though the classes break

as a model for other classes that bring

the mold for traditional distance-learning

new opportunities to students without

instruction, which is typically no different

adding greatly to

in its concept than face-to face instruction.

Similar types of classes could probably be

For the MSM Special Music Classes the

designed for drama, speech, debate, finan-

teachers decide on what the students will

cial literacy, programming or any subject.

learn and specify the class requirements

The concept is to introduce new things to

and then assumes the role of course facili-

the curriculum without adding more teach-

tator with the MSM lessons being a main,

ers or more work for teachers that already

but not the only, component of the course

have a full load of classes. Lessons in any

requirements. Ultimately, the students are

of the afore mentioned subjects could

evaluated by their teachers based on their

be taught by retired teachers, pre-service

performance of assigned pieces of music.

teachers, professional artists, actors, or

a teacher’s workload.

programmers that would be willing to folThe main difference between these spe-

low the MSM model we developed.

cial classes and other distance-learning classes is that instruction is planned by the local teacher but lessons are delivered by an MSM teacher/artist and then student performances are assessed by the teacher. The beauty of this approach is that students can be paired with teacher/artyear•end•report magazine • • 9



Note: The ESUCC works closely with Network Nebraska and its advisory committee to help meet the needs of members and school districts. The ESUCC requested the following update from the Network for this publication.

by Tom Rolfes


he Office of the CIO, assisted by the University of Nebraska, achieved its legislative benchmark of “providing access (the ability to connect) to each school district, each educational service unit, each community college, each state college, and the University of Nebraska on July 1, 2012” and can thus declare the project completed and entering into maintenance mode. Above the ability to connect, the measure of actual participation in this completely voluntary, self-funded network includes:

• Public School Districts: 222 of 250 (89%) • Educational Service Units: 15 of 17 (88%) • Community Colleges: 6 of 6 (100%) • State Colleges: 3 of 3 (100%) • University of Nebraska: 1 of 1 (100%) In addition, seven independent colleges, two tribal colleges, three private schools, and one public library also are participating in Network Nebraska-Education. Over the past six years, by aggregating demand and working together, Network Nebraska has decreased the unit cost of commodity Internet by 97% to one of the lowest rates in the nation, and through state procurement, dropped the statewide average price of WAN circuits by 39%. Nebraska education entities have respond10 • year•end•report magazine •

ed by turning those dollar savings into higher bandwidth access for their schools and campuses. Not only has the cost of commodity Internet decreased, but the reliance on commodity Internet has decreased as well through an intelligent core routing system. Each of Network Nebraska’s core routers are programmed to find the fastest, most reliable data transport route in the following priority order: 1) Intranet cloud exchange; 2) statewide backbone within the State; 3) Internet2 SEGP routing to other education entities in other statewide networks; 4) Internet2 Content Peering Services to 60,000 commercial companies; and finally, 5) Commodity Internet service at $2.50/Mbps/month ($ .77/Mbps/month for E-rate entities). By uniting public school districts and intermediate service agencies on a single statewide IP network, it has permitted these entities to form regional consortia for technical support and commodity Internet purchases. For example, in northeast Nebraska in a 21-county region encompassing 27% of Nebraska’s land area, 90 K-12 entities (mostly small rural districts) have joined together to cooperatively purchase 1,860Mbps of commodity Internet from the State master contract. This enables the regional I.T. staff to jointly manage the intrusion prevention, content filtering, and traffic shaping so that each district may burst above its allocated share without penalty. This consortium purchasing and management model has been replicated successfully in three other

consortia on Network Nebraska, thereby saving tens of thousands of dollars per year. Between 2007 and 2013, Network Nebraska has assisted in increasing the number of fiber-connected K-12 districts from 93.2% to 99.6%. The successful and reliable implementation of the State’s K-12 online assessment system over the past four years in four core subject areas has been a key cornerstone of Network Nebraska’s success. The number of video distance learning classes between and among high schools and colleges has grown steadily to over 500 semester courses per year, with many unique offerings being delivered to our most rural and sparsely populated areas, enabling more students to graduate with the required coursework for college admission. Network Nebraska’s creative approach to labor allocation includes the purchase of “hours needed” from current fulltime professionals rather than hiring new under-utilized, full-time employees that would create excess overhead costs, both at the State and University. This indirect costsavings principle is applied within the areas of accounting, legal, billing, purchasing, help desk, network management, E-rate filing, and administration. This practice has contributed to keeping the participants’ administrative costs low and affordable and assisted in the recruitment and retention of education entities onto Network Nebraska. A significant intangible benefit of Network Nebraska is the degree to which the local education agencies have begun to trust state-sponsored services that tend to be more enterprise-based or centralized. The parochialism of local control often contributes to higher costs when telecommunications and application services are purchased individually. Slowly, over time, the mindset of the local education entities has shifted to “What can we do together?” Examples of this evolution have been the move to statewide procurement for commodity Internet, WAN circuits, backbone transport, traffic shaping, intrusion prevention, and network management tools. Over time, even E-rate filing has become more centralized and now, all of the State’s commodity Internet is purchased off of one statewide master contract and jointly filed as a statewide consortium with a 70% discount rate from the Federal Universal Service Fund (E-rate).

Most recently, the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council, which encompasses the 17 regional service units of Nebraska, approached the Nebraska Legislature for funding for statewide learning management, statewide content management, and statewide directory services for 250 K-12 districts and 300,000 students. Their project proposal mentioned Network Nebraska as the necessary transport and hosting service to make their project successful, which echo the National Association of State CIO’s (NASCIO’s) priorities of Shared Services and Budget and Cost Control.

National View


The 2012 Digital Learning Now! Report lists Nebraska as 46th out of 50 states when scored on 39 descriptors that measure the usage level and policies that encourage digital learning. Yet, when scored on the ACT Exam among states that have 50% or more of their high school graduates taking the test, Nebraska scored fifth with an average composite score of 22.0 and 78% of graduates tested (2012 data). In the area of high school graduation rates, Nebraska is tied for 4th behind Iowa, Vermont, and Wisconsin, with 86% of all students graduating on time (2010-11 data). According to the 2009 Wainhouse Report, Nebraska is sixth in the country when it comes to the number of Interactive Videoconferencing (IVC)-enabled classrooms and second in the country when it comes to statewide penetration of videoconferencing, trailing only Hawaii. And, in the period from 2006-2009, Nebraska was the ninth fastest growing state when it came to the adoption of videoconferencing in schools. Network Nebraska, named by the Legislature in 2006 and implemented in July of 2007, is considered the 39th statewide network of the 40 currently attached to the nationwide Internet2 Research and Education network [See Table]. Some statewide networks like Idaho serve only one subsector like higher education and some, like year•end•report magazine • • 11

Illinois, serve all community anchor institutions through a converged data network. In Nebraska, Network NebraskaEducation serves K-20 education. Network Nebraska-Government serves all the state agencies and county courthouses. The University of Nebraska Computing Services Network serves the four main campuses of the University, UN-Lincoln, UN-Kearney, UN-Omaha, and UN-Medical Center, and the county extension offices. Nebraska also has a separate Telehealth Network that serves the critical access hospitals in rural areas and the hub hospitals and public health clinics. One service that is fairly consistently provided across all statewide networks is commodity Internet. Commodity Internet is the medium by which most data transfer occurs across the globe. Commodity Internet is sold by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in a unit cost of megabits per second per month or Mbps/month. In Nebraska, we are fortunate to have almost all of K-12 and higher education aggregating their Internet demand into one large purchase, which attracts the attention of larger providers and lower unit prices. By using WAN circuits and the statewide backbone, Network Nebraska-Education is able to purchase its entire Internet supply from one or two main egress locations (e.g. Omaha or Lincoln), which further drives down the cost. Network Nebraska-Education also has elected to pay the provider for all of the State’s Internet and then do the rebilling as part of the Network Nebraska-Education monthly invoice, which further decreases the indirect costs for the provider, enabling lower supply prices. All of these techniques combined together has allowed Nebraska education one of the lowest commodity Internet rates in the country at $2.50/Mbps/month, or $ .7750/Mbps/month after the E-rate discount is deducted [2013-14 rates]. Network Nebraska-Education is also considering a Commercial Peering Service (CPS) for 2013-14 through the Great Plains Network that would allow an additional amount of faster Internet connections at approximately $ .25/Mbps/month.

Network Nebraska-Education Historical Development Legislative Bill 1208 (2006) was the impetus for the statewide network called Network Nebraska-Education, although much regional K-12, state, and University of Nebraska networking was in place prior to the bill. LB 1208 was cointroduced on January 18, 2006 by Senators Raikes, Pederson, Baker, and Stuhr. This bill embodied many of the recommendations contained in the final report of the Distance Education Enhancement Task Force, which met from July to December, 2005. (listed under Education Committee reports; 20MB, 103 pgs). reports/committee/education/LB689_2005.pdf On 4/13/06, LB 1208 and LB 1208A were passed by the Legislature and were signed into law by the Governor (Search ‘Final 1208’ under the 99th Session; 72 pgs). The distance education improvement plan crafted by the legislature education committee was centered on three general principles. First, the plan recognized the responsibility of school districts, ESUs, and public postsecondary education institutions to make decisions related to participation in distance education. Second, the plan encouraged and incentivized the exchange of distance education courses using a statewide network, known as Network Nebraska. Third, the plan provided for statewide coordination through a new entity, the Distance Education Council (renamed ESU Coordinating Council, 7/1/08). Prior to Network Nebraska (1992-2006), video distance education was provided by 12 separate consortia of school districts and ESUs that were isolated technologically from each other, with no interconnecting network. MEMBERSHIP GROWTH Major responsibility for the implementation of Network Nebraska was tasked to the State Office of the CIO, and assisted by the University of Nebraska Computing Services Network. An implementation plan was developed that would enable as many as 330 public K-12 and higher education entities to connect to the Network Nebraska backbone 12 • year•end•report magazine •

over a three-year time period (i.e. summers of 2007, 2008, 2009). Below is a table showing the actual years, numbers of entities, and fees paid. The network is still expanding in membership, although the benchmark for providing “access” (the ability to connect) to all public education entities was 7/1/2012. On that date, 100% of public higher education and 88% of K-12 entities had connected to the network with 252 total entities. Performance Year Network Nebraska Participation Fee Number of Entities 2012-13 $203.48/month/entity 252 entities 2011-12 $190.21/month/entity 244 entities 2010-11 $195.13/month/entity 226 entities 2009-10 $192.47/month/entity 232 entities 2008-09 $197.80/month/entity 182 entities 2007-08 $200.00/month/entity 94 entities Performance Year 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08

Network Nebraska Interregional Transport Fee Number of Entities $18.67/month/K-12 entity ($ 61.28/month/college) 252 entities $31.69/month/K-12 entity ($101.09/month/college) 244 entities $36.45/month/K-12 entity ($115.78/month/college) 226 entities $34.48/month/K-12 entity ($ 92.72/month/college) 232 entities $34.21/month/K-12 entity ($ 93.35/month/college) 182 entities $ 0.00/month/K-12 entity [no backbone in service] 94 entities

Performance Year 2012-13

Network Nebraska Internet Access Unit Charge Number of Purchasers $.7905/Mbps/month for K-12 ($2.55/Mbps/month for colleges) 15 entities

GOVERNANCE & OVERSIGHT The Collaborative Aggregation Partnership (CAP), chaired by the State CIO, was formed in 2002 at the request of then-Lt. Governor Heineman, chair of the NITC. The charge to CAP was to find ways for the State of Nebraska and University of Nebraska to cooperate toward more affordable and efficient telecommunications. The first initiative, called the Scottsbluff Pilot Project, proved that large agencies could collaborate on common infrastructure initiatives. The CAP is comprised of staff from the three state agencies empowered to purchase and provide telecommunications services: State Office of the CIO, University of Nebraska Computing Services Network, and the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission. Policy and constituent guidance is provided by staff from the Nebraska Department of Education, Public Service Commission, and the Nebraska Information Technology Commission. In July 2009, the NITC Education Council chartered a new ad hoc group called the Network Nebraska Advisory Group (NNAG) to provide input to the State CIO. The purpose of the NNAG was to assist the State of Nebraska Chief Information Officer in crafting the vision and strategic direction for Network Nebraska—Education based on the NITC Education Council marketing survey and the needs and requests of the participating entities. The NNAG is composed of eight members from K-12, eight members from higher education, and liaisons from the CAP entities responsible for the network. The NNAG elects its own co-chairs, one from K-12 and one from higher education. SERVICES The first major service offering available to Network Nebraska-Education participants was Internet2 Sponsored Education Group Participation (SEGP), sponsored by the University of Nebraska. As a SEGP, every K-12 and non-research college and university connected to Network Nebraska-Education is also connected to approximately 66,000 other education entities in 42 other states through prioritized routing over a 100Gbps nationwide backbone. Network NebraskaEducation pays $36,000 per year for SEGP status.

year•end•report magazine • • 13

Table: 40 SEGP Networks attached to Internet2 (2011 data) State

R&E Network

Alabama Alaska Arkansas California

Alabama REN AK20 ARE-ON CENIC / CalREN EAGLE-Net / Front Range Colorado GigaPOP 5 Connecticut CT Education Network 6 Florida Florida LambdaRail 7 Georgia PeachNet 8 Hawaii HERN 9 Idaho ID Education Network 10 Illinois ICN 11 Indiana I-Light 12 Iowa ICN 13 Kansas KanREN 14 KyRON 15 Kentucky Louisiana LONI 16 Maine MaineREN 17 SAILOR / UMATS 18 Maryland Merit Network 19 Michigan Minnesota Learning Network of MN 20 MORENet 21 Missouri Network Nebraska 22 Nebraska Nevada NevadaNet 23 New Jersey NJEDge 24 CHECSNet 25 New Mexico New York NYSERNet 26 North MCNC / NCREN 27 Carolina STAGENet 28 North Dakota Ohio OARNet 29 Oklahoma OneNet 30 1 2 3 4

Oregon NERO / Oregon GigaPOP 31 MAGPI / PAIunet 32 Pennsylvania Rhode Island OSHEAN 33 South South Carolina LightRail 34 Carolina REED 35 South Dakota Texas LEARN 36 37 38

4-year Colleges

Government 2-year Colleges




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Network Virginia

K20 Education Network WiscNet

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39 Washington 40 Wisconsin

14 • year•end•report magazine •

BlendEd Initiative will use Safarii Montage for LOR


AFARI Montage is a Learning

With SAFARI Montage CreationStation,

Objects Repository (LOR) that

school districts have the ability to easily

provides K-12 school districts

upload and manage their own digital video

with a comprehensive solution

and other content, and to disseminate it to

for their digital media distribution and

all classrooms throughout the district.

visual instruction needs. The full suite

With the introduction of its new Pathways

of integrated products gives educa-

SM module – the road to the future of

tors and administrators a single inter-

classroom communications – SAFARI

face for accessing all visual resources

Montage now gives districts the ability to

from inside the school district intranet or

control, manage and schedule classroom

from home. The award-winning SAFARI

and district devices. The Pathways SM

Montage Video-On-Demand and Digital

module is a powerful new addition to the

Media Management enterprise solution is

SAFARI Montage suite of products, which

designed to cut costs for school districts by

forms a total enterprise solution that

utilizing intelligent digital media delivery,

provides System Administrators with the

while facilitating visual instruction and

tools to manage all of their digital media

learning in the classroom.

intelligently throughout the district while improving teaching, learning and achieve-

The repository is being populated with

ment for 21st-century students.

content and wull grow over time. Currently, links to the Learn 360º content have been

A statewide content repository has been

placed in Safarii Montage and users will be

talked about for several years with many

able to search that content. Other collects

large districts already having Safarii

are being considered and may be added

Montage or some other system in place.

to before the start of the school year. Over

Having a common repository for all

the summer Safarii Montage servers are

schools in Nebraska gives digital learning

being installed at several ESUs and vari-

a big boost.

Over the summer Safarii Montage servers are being installed at several ESUs and various levels of training for both users and database managers have been scheduled.

ous levels of training for both users and database managers have been scheduled.

year•end•report magazine • • 15

1438 this past year. This is partially attributable to decline in the number of dualcredit courses from 127 down to 110 this

The Year in Review


past school year. Both the drop in enrollment and the number dual-credit courses may be due to new testing requirements for enrollment into dual-credit courses.

ebraska schools exchanged 588 unique courses with total enrollments of 7578 students.

Although the

total number of courses

exchanged increased the total enrollment was down from 8223 recorded in 201112. The decrease was due in large part to significantly lower number of elementary classes than were exchanged in 201112. The number of elementary courses dropped from 129 in 2011-12 to just 76 exchanged this year.

There were also

less dual-credit courses exchanged this year, 110 compared to 127 in the previous year. However, the number of high school classes exchanged grew from 346 in 201112 to 394 in 2012-13 according the NVIS clearinghouse reports.

There are surprises each year when reviewing trends and comparing num-

A nice surprise has been increased inter-

bers from the year just completed to the

est in the Special Distance Learning Music

previous years. One concern this year is

Classes described elsewhere in this pub-

that there was a decline in the number of

lication. Eleven Special Distance Learning

teachers teaching distance-learning cours-

Music Classes with three schools enrolled

es although it did not come as a complete

in each class had to be scheduled this

surprise because it was already known

summer to meet the demand. Music teach-

from survey results that many teachers

ers in five Nebraska schools are working

were close to retirement. Consequently, a

with each other and with the Manhattan

comparison of 2012 -13 data to that from

School of Music in New York to provide

2011-12 indicated that 57 teachers that

advanced level instruction to students who

had taught

love music and performing. These classes

classes in 2011-12 did not Thirty-five teachers

also introduced students and teachers to

joined the ranks of those that teach dis-

blended learning through the self-blend

tance-learning classes leaving a net loss

model of instruction, which appropriately

of 21 teachers. Another concern was the

gives students more responsibility for their

decrease in the number of students taking

own learning.

teach in 2012-13.

dual-credit courses, which stood at about 1700 students in 2011-12 but dropped to

Two-way interactive (synchronous) distance-learning continues to be important to schools for different reasons often depending on the size of the school. For some small districts distance-learning is vital in order for these small districts to offer students foreign language and advanced math classes along with other courses that they

would not able to

offer on site. For other schools enabling students to take dual-credit courses such as College Algebra and/or English Composition is most important. Large districts such as Lincoln and Omaha Public Schools continue to participate in statewide distance-learning by sending courses that are popular with out state schools. NVIS shows that there eighteen courses sent to out state schools by LPS and OPS offered eight courses.

16 • year•end•report magazine •

Although the clearinghouse is not able

and teachers also found video conferences

to track the frequency of events that

to be a good way to avoid travel and time

enhance and enrich the curriculum such

away from school. Over 250 superintendents

as virtual field trips or bringing experts

and school bookkeepers gathered at 19 ESUs

into the classroom via videoconferencing

and schools’ sites across the state to listen

there is anecdotal evidence that there

to a presentation on the Patient Protection

was an increase in special events. See the

and the Affordable Care Act. This event rep-

article titled Top Five Virtual Field Trips

resented the most simultaneous connections

on pages 22 -23 for an overview of sites

between sites at one time on the distance-

that schools like to visit. However, schools

learning network and it worked perfectly with

also participated other impressive events

high-definition connections at all locations. It

involving the use of videoconferencing

has been estimated that by conducting this

to bring students together, such as a

event as a statewide conference with every-

Holocaust Survivors presentation held at

one that needed the information attending

Wahoo High School that was shared with

at a remote site close to their school about

over 1100 students, about 600 were on

$47,855.00 was saved in travel costs, pre-

site and more than 500 students from 15

senter fees, and time away from school.

other schools throughout the state participated through high definition videoconfer-

More and more professional development, ath-

encing. Students at the host school as well

letics rules and seating meetings, and committee

those at all the remote sites were able to

work, is now conducted over videoconferencing

ask questions of the presenters.

made possible through the purchase of multipoint conference units (MCUs) bridges that

Another engaging use of videoconferenc-

were purchased by ESUs who secured USDLA

ing by schools were live discussions with

RUS-DLT grants. Since 2006 Nebraska ESUs, and

State Senators about current issues faced

schools have secured over eleven million dollars

by the legislature. Administrators, coaches

in grants in support of distance education.

John Stritt the DL Coordinator for ESUs 10 & 11 was chosen to receive the 2013 NDLA’s Wayne Fisher Award for his leadership and service.

year•end•report magazine • • 17

Desktop and Mobile Videoconferencing One District’s story by linda Dickeson implementation of the district’s Radvision bridge (MCU), Firewall Transit, iView Server (for Scopia and meeting management), LifeSize Video Center and eight initial LifeSize endpoints that the videoconference concept got its first real test. In late May of 2011, the Lincoln Public Schools District Office building burned to the ground in the worst fire in Lincoln’s history. The estimated $20,000,000 in damages included the district’s data center, turning the district’s technology infrastructure (including the videoconferencing components) into melted pancakes and ashes. The building’s 250 employees, with laptops on loan from mobile labs at various schools, were divided between several different rented or leased sites all across the city. With help from the videoconferencing solution vendor, temporary Scopia Desktop “rooms” were sponsored and set up so that immediate planning and collaboration could take place between employees, no matter where in the


city they were located. The happy ending to the story is that the n 2010, the search began for videoconferencing solutions for the Lincoln Public Schools, the second largest school district in Nebraska with approximately 37,000 students in over 60 school buildings. The motivations for the implementation were to serve educators, staff and students through 1) pro-

viding synchronous course exchanges (within the district and with schools throughout Nebraska); 2) adding enrichment activities like virtual field trips and classroom collaborations; 3) allowing staff members to hold or attend meetings over videoconferencing to reduce driving time and expenses; and 4) expanding professional

infrastructure has been successfully rebuilt, and videoconferencing with laptops or tablets using Scopia Desktop has become second nature to many in the district.

Successful uses include: • Professional Learning Communities and Department Chair meetings—One Tuesday each month, district-wide PLC groups meet, and one Wednesday each month, Department Chairs from each curricular area at each of six high schools meet.

development opportunities.

In the past, teachers would take turns hosting these meet-

Videoconference solution quotes for the Lincoln Public Schools

PLC groups and Department Chairs regularly arrange to

were required to include these two components: recording and streaming of videoconferences; and having videoconferencing available on the desktop, laptop or mobile device on multiple platforms (Mac, Windows, iOS or Android). Lifesize endpoints along with the LifeSize Video Center provide the recording/streaming solution, and the desktop/mobile solution chosen was Scopia Desktop (and Mobile) from Radvision, since Scopia was the only desktop application ready for cross-platform (Mac and Windows) at the time of the purchase. Since then, many other desktop solutions have come to market (discussed later). The benefits and uses of desktop and mobile videoconferencing for the district are numerous. It was soon after the successful

18 • year•end•report magazine •

ings at their school for face-to-face discussions. Now, many meet “virtually” using their laptops and Scopia Desktop. They easily share their screens and present ideas to each other during the discussion, also using a text “chat” area for further comments. Their testimonials tell us that by using videoconferencing, they start the meeting faster (avoiding end-of-day traffic nightmares around schools), are less tired from the extra driving, are more on-task, and end their meetings on time. And the undocumented benefits include the gas savings and reduction of environmental greenhouse gasses from so many educators in the city driving extra distances on those days.

• Statewide meetings—Many district leaders collaborate with colleagues around the state in quarterly or monthly meetings. In the past, many participants found themselves driving

without leaving their home school. It’s not unusual for a student to use a laptop or tablet to dial in to a course delivered from a school many miles away. A large school district like Lincoln’s can benefit from allowing students to attend a course across town that is not offered at their home school. The sending school’s classroom is supplemented by videoconferencing technology so that the remote student can attend sitting in front of a laptop or tablet.

• Virtual Field Trips—With insufficient funding to allow classrooms to all have videoconferencing equipment, more and more providers of Virtual Field Trip programs are working with schools to from one to six hours to attend these meetings. Now, many statewide groups meet through videoconferencing. And rather than having to schedule special equipment or a certain room to do videoconferencing, participants can use a laptop, a tablet, or even a smartphone to attend the meeting. The desktop and mobile technologies blend nicely with traditional end-points. Attend-

allow them to connect using desktop videoconferencing. With a higher quality webcam with microphone and speakers attached, a laptop computer connected to a projector can work quite well to bring programs or experts into the classroom. Scopia Desktop and other H.323 protocol desktop videoconference applications provide

With help from the videoconferencing solution vendor, temporary Scopia Desktop “rooms” were sponsored and set up so that immediate planning and collaboration could take place ...” The list of possible solutions for desktop and mobile video conference applications is growing, and those available are changing and updating frequently to add new features. The list includes:

• LifeSize ClearSea • Cisco Jabber • Polycom RealPresence

a higher quality experience than Skype or other similar applications.

ing a statewide meeting with Scopia Desktop on a laptop computer looks something like the image shown bottom right:

• Synchronous High School Course Exchange –(either within the district, or with schools across Nebraska)—For several years, Principals and Counselors across Nebraska have been able to enroll students in courses offered synchronously through videoconferencing. The statewide clearinghouse, called NVIS (Nebraska Virtual Instruction Source:, typically has hundreds of courses listed each semester from schools all over the state that students can take year•end•report magazine • • 19

Why incentives Are important

As noted in the results, 53% of respondents plan to rely on grant with some contribution. Twenty-four percent indicated that without additional outside funds they would limit all upgrades. Authors’ Comment: Videoconferencing technology has improved in quality and the cost of outfitting a video cart system is about one-fourth of original classroom systems. The future of videoconferencing may also lend to other less expensive options such

and how they can be reFocused by Beth Kabes with John Stritt

as desktop systems. Portability and lower costs could enable districts to maintain and even upgrade their video conferencing capabilities. Other funding support options may be the key to maintaining and improving the network by which K-12 courses

LB 1208 - What’s next? In the spring of 2013, a survey was sent out to Nebraska’s superintendents to gather insight on the importance of distance learning in providing educational opportunities for K12 students, the importance of funding in supporting videoconferencing technology, and the impact of eliminating incentive dollars as outlined in LB 1208. Fifty-six Nebraska administrators completed the survey. The survey provided support for this article. As funds from LB1208 for equipment upgrades and incentive payments will sunset in 2015, what will be the impact on distance learning in Nebraska? Will schools be willing to update and/ or purchase videoconferencing equipment? Without incentives will schools be willing to share classes? Will schools who send classes pass on higher costs for sharing classes? Will receiving schools be willing to pay more for classes? More importantly will educational opportunities for Nebraska’s K12 students shrink in numbers?

Upgrading Video Conferencing Technology LB 1208 along with USDA grants and district contributions provided the necessary funding for updating videoconferencing to an IP based system. The IP system in turn allowed all Nebraska school districts the ability to interact statewide for the purpose of sharing courses. As this updating process began in 2006-07, the conferencing technology purchased at that time is already reaching near the end of its life. How are schools planning to deal with aging equipment and networks? From the 2013 Nebraska Superintendent Survey on Distance Learning, administrators responded as follows to the following question. “As videoconferencing technology has a limited life expectancy what are your future plans (hopes) for updating your VC technology?”

20 • year•end•report magazine •

are offered.

Future of Incentive Funding The 2013 Nebraska Superintendent Survey on Distance Learning asked administrators questions regarding the impact incentives pay in support of K12 student opportunities. Q1—With no incentives, what is is the likelihood that the number of courses offered over videoconferencing will stay the same. On a four point scale with 1 being no change and 4 being significant change, administrators rated this as 2.9. Administrator Comments:

• The loss of incentive funding will likely jeopardize offerings as districts struggle to fund those areas that are required by law.

• Incentive funding makes it fiscally palatable for schools to partner and offer students opportunities that are available through DL. Without the incentives, there will likely be regression or stagnation in offerings.

• With a limited and tight budget the incentive program is very important for our school district if we are to continue providing classes through videoconferencing. Q2—With no incentives, what is the likelihood that sending sites will raise fees for sending classes. On a four point scale with 1 being no change and 4 being significant change, administrators rated this as a 3.5. Administrator Comments:

• I do believe that it is appropriate to charge fees to receive a class. That being said, loss of the funding will certainly increase costs and may limit some participation. The very

nature of your remote location will lead us to rely more heavily on videoconferencing in the future.

• We have been able to offer our classes at no cost.


the incentives, we may have to begin charging a per course or per student cost.

• Not as important unless sending schools want a lot of money to send. Q3—With higher per student fees, what is the likelihood of demand changing for classes by receiving sites. On a four point scale with 1 being no change and 4 being significant change, administrators rated this as a 3.2 Administrator Comments:

• We are currently at the $1.05 levy limit and have made several cuts. There is no room in our budget for additional

The one thing that is clear is that incentives do provide support

videoconferencing cost.

for those districts willing to create and send classes which then

• We are not currently sending or receiving because it was unavailable and/or getting too expensive to do so. That will

provides additional opportunities for Nebraska’s K-12 students.

only become more expensive and restrictive.

Importance of Distance Education

small district.

Distance education in Nebraska has largely been through the

• No incentives will decrease availability of courses for our

videoconferencing median. The importance of distance education Authors’ Comment: In education it is not uncommon to pur-

has been of extreme importance for small rural districts. The fol-

chase technology prior to having a plan to implement its use. In

lowing comments from administrators address that importance.

LB1208, incentive payments based on using the technology in

• It is imperative that Videoconferencing technology is avail-

support of course offerings for students led to 240 schools par-

able to our school, as we would not remain open if it were

ticipating in course work.

taken away.

As noted in the responses of the superintendents, there is a concern that with no incentives there will be higher costs charged by

• Videoconferencing has saved our district many dollars in travel and greatly increased course offerings to our students!

• This is absolutely crucial in areas of minimal population.


sending sites for classes and ultimately fewer course offerings.

am so impressed with the course offerings that our students

Modification ideas to consider for a future incentive policy might

are able to choose from that would not be available to them


in any other feasible manner.

• Only sending sites receive incentives based on the number of students enrolled at receiving sites

• Receiving sites would not be obligated to pay any additional

Authors’ Closing Comment: Videoconferencing has provided Nebraska’s students with educational opportunities not limited by

fees for students in the class (exception would be for college

rurality or size. As we look to the future, we need to insure that

credit tuition for dual credit/college courses)

these opportunities aren’t limited due to funding. Rather we need

• Online courses would be eligible for receiving incentive dollars • Sparse district funding provision would no longer be part of

to look to expand the opportunities for students while seeking to improve the quality of delivery.

the incentive formula

• Approved special projects would be eligible for incentive funding • Incentive dollars for videoconferencing and online teachers who participate in a continuing education program.

year•end•report magazine • • 21

Top five Virtual Field Trips

1. Nebraska’s picks National Archives






Administration comprises the richest record of America’s past. Nebraska native, David Rosenbaum, introduces audiences to primary sources through its documents. Primary sources such as Joseph Glidden’s patent

for barbed wire, FDR’s “Date Which Will Live in Infamy” speech, photographs from the Civil War, and the check for the purchase of Alaska provide students with exciting learning opportunities. All of

Rock & Roll Hall of fame

these documents and millions of others are held by the National

COSI’s virtual autopsy

Rosenbaum, will introduce participants to documents, and resours-

NASA’s DLN sites

agencies to make valuable government resources readily available

Durham Museum Omaha 22 • year•end•report magazine •

Archives and Records Administration. Education specialist , David es available from the National Archives. Efforts by other Federal for educators and students will also be described.


In April 2013, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reached a milestone by connect-

Other VFT events to consider include

ing to over 25,000 students. 25,000

having your ESU DL coordinator arrange

kids who, without videoconferencing

a visit by your state senator or maybe an

technology, would possibly never get the chance to experience the programs

the Rock Hall has to offer. Students are always eager to partici-

amazing eMission from the Challenger

pate in programs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Teachers

Center. Visit the Henry Doorly Zoo or the

have commented about how - “The lyrics that are presented dur-

Homestead National Moument or take

ing the program are rich in evoking the social concerns of that time period and the educator did an excellent job of helping the

students on a virtual field trip to the Joslyn

students discuss the poetic metaphors contained in a pretty chal-

of MONA Art Museums.

lenging song, ‘All Along the Watchtower’.” Programs like - Ball of Confusion: Rock Music and Social Change in the 1960s and 1970s - discusses how rock and roll reflected the challenges faced during the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and the Women’s Liberation movement. By listening to other examples (such as the Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” and the Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers”), participants explore how rock and roll musicians were really tuned in to what was going on around them and how they often used their songs as vehicles of social protest and/or empowerment.


The Durham Museum’s award winning distance learning program offers unique opportunities for students of all ages throughout the country. The classes are highly engaging and interactive programs that teachers

can take advantage of without leaving their classrooms. Taught by educators, these classes are aligned with national and state social studies standards and are filled with primary sources such as artifacts, videos, and photographs. Each session lasts one hour and


In Depth: Autopsy - Students watch a videotape of an actual autopsy accompanied by live narration by a forensic pathologist.

includes pre-visit and post-visit activities to enhance your experience. The Durham Museum also has multi-site capabilities and can add your school to an already scheduled session.

Participants must work through the “case” and solve for cause of death. The autopsy is shown from the Y-incision to the removal

of the brain and is 90-minutes long. In Depth: Autopsy is a multipoint program that connects up to 5 schools at one time, including an audience at COSI for groups and individuals. Questions will be asked in a round robin, facilitated format. This program meets the Grade 9-12: Commonn Core Standards for Science Inquiry and Application.


NASA’s Digital Learning Network™ provides science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM content featuring NASA missions and research. Register for free, interactive events listed in our catalog or watch

our webcasts listed below. Learn more about us at : About DLN . Our DLiNtro video will guide you through our website, show how to register for modules, and explain other services.

year•end•report magazine • • 23

DL art Classes

& Artists residencies Pilot projects are planned for the fall, Six schools In two Separate DL ART Classes will host Artists


y former life as an art teacher started tugging at

Arts Council wanted me to invite some teachers to Omaha for a

me again this spring and I decided I needed to

meeting with NAC staff members and with some of the AiS art-

visit some art teachers and pitch an idea that I had

ists. A meeting was setup and took place in late April with the

been thinking about. First I visited Paul Beranek at

art teachers and included Anne Alston, and Suzanne Wise of the

Ravenna who teaches several art classes over dis-

Nebraska Arts Council, Laura Huntimer of the Joslyn Art Museum

tance learning and I ask Paul what he thought of embedding art-

and artists Kirstin Pulhacek and Marcia Joffe-Bouska.

ists residencies into distance-learning classes. My concept is that classes can be team-taught by art teachers at two, three or four

The concept of embedding residencies into distance-learning

schools with each school hosting one on-site residency. During

classes was explored and concerns were raised about whether

each residency remote sites would participate virtually through

hands-on instruction that is typical of art classes could be facili-

videoconferencing when each of the other schools hosting their

tated over distance-learning. Teachers worried about scheduling

artist. The artists, I explained, would be artists that participate in

conflicts and several had reservations about whether the tech-

the Nebraska Arts Council’s Artists in Schools (AiS) program.

nology would be too hard to use. Mr. Beranek allayed the fears about the technology by explaining that within a week of using

Paul’s reaction came without hesitation he thought the project

videoconferencing the teachers would be at ease with it.

is a good idea that will be good for kids and he wanted to be involved. Next, I communicated through email with Ann and Ben

Despite the inherent challenges of the project, the overwhelming

Darling, husband and wife art teachers in Sidney. Ben teaches at

sentiment was that this project can work and getting more expo-

the middle school and Ann at the high school. As an art teacher

sure to art into schools is worth doing. The group is enthusiastic

myself back in the early nineties I had Ben do a residency on

to proceed with a pilot project in fall with the hope of recruiting

landscape painting with my students in Nelson, Nebraska. Ben

four other schools besides Ravenna and Sidney. Ravenna will

was on-board immediately but Ann was a little more cautious

send one class and Sidney will send another. The classes will

and concerned about what they might be getting themselves

be one semester in length with each participating school hav-

into. I told them that I had already pitched the idea to the

ing one on site residency. Because art is project based learning

Nebraska Arts Council and then to Paul Beranek and that the

by nature with lots of hands-on with different materials it was

24 • year•end•report magazine •

decided that schools must have a certi-

classroom sometimes part of the students

fied art teacher to participate in these

are involved in interacting with students

special distance-learning art classes. The

at the other schools on an art assignment

art teachers will work together along with

while others might be devoting time to

artists, Nebraska Arts Council Staff mem-

their creation of their own artwork. The

bers and Education Outreach specialists

bell may ring at one school but students

at both MONA and Joslyn Art Museums to

at remote sites can stay connected and

plan the class during a workshop to be

engaged. In fact, the group talked about

held in July.

making this class an example of blended learning with much enthusiasm and the

The Virtual-Residencies classes will

artists and teachers are excited to learn

focus on portfolio development plus

about a mode of blended instruction

understanding and appreciating art. The

known as flipped learning where lessons

classes will be team taught with flexible

are recorded and posted for viewing by

scheduling since the participating schools

students time and again.

will have differing class start and end times. The technology will be used as tool to bring experts into classroom and as the ultimate tool for social media for a community-of-learners that love art. Since art classes in most Nebraska schools are comprised of a mix of beginning, intermediate and advanced students this class will be a class that intentionally ignores seat time and traditional scheduling. Beranek pointed out that within his own year•end•report magazine • • 25

Consider This Statewide Implementation of BlendED: The Nebraska Way by Dr. bob uhing


BlendED learning is often defined as a formal education program he Nebraska way is part of the heritage of this great state.

in which a student learns, at least in part, through online learning,

With the formation of the Nebraska Territory, homestead-

with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/

ers would settle on an acreage, and neighbors would

or pace. The learning should take place, at least in part, in a super-

come together in support of each other.

vised brick-and-mortar location away from home.

The Eastern image of farm life on the prairies emphasized the

The key components in Nebraska’s model include a Learning

isolation of the lonely farmer and farm life, but, in reality, rural

Object Repository (LOR), Identity Management System (LDAP),

Nebraskans created a rich social life for themselves. They often

and Learning Management System (LMS), all coordinated into a

sponsored activities that combined work, food, and entertain-

statewide system that will impact educators and students across

ment, such as barn raising.


The BlendED initiative is a modern version of barn raising as

This project was unique in many ways, including the fact that

technologists from across the state have committed time and

no state had undertaken a technology initiative of this magni-

work to boosting the use of technology as a tool to positively

tude. Thus, no blueprint existed on how to proceed. Initial steps

impact teaching and learning in our state.

included establishing a BlendED committee and requesting support from various stakeholders on the project. Additional issues

The BlendEd initiative started in the summer of 2012 when

included inviting ESU, K-12, and higher education personnel with

Dr. Matt Blomstedt, ESUCC Executive Director — working with

strong technology skills to work on the project. Individuals who

partners from higher education, school districts, NDE, state gov-

already had full-time jobs at their respective institutions took on

ernment, and the ESUs — began discussions on an educational

the added responsibility of working on the various projects.

model of the future for Nebraska schools. The new model they developed and shared across the state was called the BlendED

Finding ways to fund the BlendED initiative also proved to be a


significant hurdle, given the amount of equipment necessary for the various projects and the amount of programming necessary

26 • year•end•report magazine •

The BlendED initiative is a modern version of barn raising as technologists from across the state have committed time and work to boosting the use of technology as a tool to positively impact teaching...”

The 17 ESU administrators approved the

Professional development with school

BlendED initiative in April. This commit-

staff to help them adapt to and utilize the

ment included having personnel for the

new systems will need to take place dur-

ESU affiliates — specifically Instructional

ing the school year for all of the projects,



along with populating the LOR. However,

Operations Committee (NOC) and the

the actual statewide system will be up and

Technology Assistance Group (TAG) — uti-

running and should be in full use during

lize their expertise in moving the BlendED

the fall semester.



initiatives forward. For the individuals from the various affiliates, it meant work-

The LDAP project is close to completion,

ing in their specialty area outside the nor-

even though this is groundbreaking tech-

mal workday and coordinating the efforts

nology. By early fall, school districts in

with related staff across the state.

about 11 of the 17 ESUs will have a system implemented. Having the LDAP in place

Staff working on this project continued to

with the single sign-on will be very helpful

coordinate efforts with the help and sup-

for educators when accessing the LOR. We

port of the aforementioned organizations.

will also see a change in the LMS system,

Each ESU also agreed to financially sup-

along with the growth and use of digital

for implementation. Finally, in the case of

port the BlendED project, redistributing

learning systems.

the LDAP project, information for identity

funds from other projects when necessary. The stage is set in Nebraska with a com-

management for K-12 institutions was very limited, and statewide developers found

So what’s next? Implementation of

mon goal and focus that will provide a

emerging, cutting-edge technologies, as

BlendED is moving forward at a rapid

framework for interoperability of emerging

well as organizations that support identity

pace. The LOR project is expected to be in

technologies to meet the needs of educa-

management, were nearly non-existent.

place when school starts in August 2013.

tors and students in the 21st century. year•end•report magazine • • 27

Wanted: Blended Learning Robotics Course teach students and their teacher Work with Business & industry Step up teachers! You know students and you know what is best for kids. You are already doing some blended learning so double your commitment to kids and dial-it up a notch. Let us team you up with sponsors in the private sector, help you get Vex Robotics kits and the curriculum for your school and two other schools and get you started teaching a blended course on robotics. The course will combine face-to-face instruction with the VEX online curriculum, it will incorporate flipped learning and will be shared with two other schools via high-definition videoconferencing. Could be zero hour class, after school class, summer class, doesn’t matter, BUT LETS GET STARTED. Step up business & industry, state government, non-profits, kits are expensive! Step up and help us make this happen. It’s a start.

Call 1-308-865-5664 ext. 294 or visit

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