FCC proposes new e-Rate eligibility rules

Buying a service contract up front could complicate the e-Rate process under new proposed rules issued by the FCC June 24.

A proposed new rule for the federal e-Rate program could discourage schools from buying service contracts when they purchase network equipment, at least one program expert warns.

The rule is part of a draft version of the latest Eligible Services List (ESL) for the e-Rate, which provides discounts on the cost of telecommunications services and internet access. If approved, the revised list would take effect in the 2012 program year.

Released June 24 by the Federal Communications Commission, the draft doesn’t propose any major changes to the list of services that would be eligible for e-Rate support, but it does clarify several points.

One of these points is whether the e-Rate should apply to maintenance and support for internal connections, or the wiring, routers, switches, and file servers needed to bring internet access into classrooms.

The FCC’s proposal states that basic maintenance of internal connections is to be reimbursed only for “actual work performed.” That means schools can’t apply for e-Rate discounts on the service contracts they might buy along with any internal connections; instead, they must wait until work is performed and then apply to be reimbursed for the cost of this work.

Cathy Cruzan, president of the e-Rate consulting firm Funds For Learning, said she worries that the rule might discourage schools from buying service contracts on their network gear, because they would have to go through two sets of program reviews.

Buying a service contract up front would complicate the e-Rate process, she explained, because schools would have to separate the cost of this contract from their other requests when applying for discounts on internal connections. Then, if any work related to the contract is performed, schools would have to calculate a dollar value for this work, which might (or might not) correspond with the cost of the contract itself.

Skipping the service contract altogether would be easier, because schools would just apply to be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses in maintaining their equipment. Yet, that could leave schools with unforeseen expenses they might not have budgeted for.


Feds review progress on National Ed-Tech Plan

Developing communities of practice can help the National Ed-Tech plan become a reality.

The second day of the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference featured an hour-long presentation and Q&A session with Karen Cator, director of educational technology for the federal Education Department (ED).

Cator reviewed the nation’s progress toward implementing ed-tech projects and highlighted some of the plan’s top priorities.

“It really is a national education technology plan,” Cator said June 27. “How do people learn in the 21st century?”

The plan focuses on:

•    Learning: Personalized learning and true engagement can make for a powerful learning environment, the plan says.
•    Teaching: Technology has the opportunity to really augment teaching capacity in every single classroom, it says.
•    Assessment: For feedback and better understanding, educators must understand how people learn, and they should be able to take that feedback and improve teaching and learning.

The plan includes “the vision to transform American education and power up learning with the best tech tools of today,” Cator said.

But to execute the plan, several essential components must be in place, she said—such as broadband internet access, devices in all places where learning can occur (including school, homes, and libraries), and the human infrastructure necessary to support such a system.

“How do we make sure that every person who is learning is doing … what is the most productive for the student at any given time?” Cator asked.


‘Bad Teacher’ movie boasts bad taste

At theaters all across America this weekend, a new comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal hit the big screens. While a movie debuting on a Friday is nothing new, the content of this film stands out from the rest. The Bad Teacher title gives a subtle hint about the plot, and the movie’s description reads, “Some teachers just don’t give an F.” It also describes Cameron Diaz’s character, a teacher, as someone who “drinks” and who “gets high.” Though comedies shouldn’t necessarily be taken seriously, a television advertisement for the movie is what caught my attention.

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Gender bias fought at Egalia Preschool in Stockholm, Sweden

At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys, reports the Associated Press. From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes. “Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing,” says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. “Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.”

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Education secretary tells Congress: Change No Child Left Behind – or I will

The Obama administration is raising the stakes for Congress to act on reforming No Child Left Behind, The Christian Science Monitor reports. If Congress won’t act to reauthorize and amend the act – officially the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – then the administration will start addressing some of the act’s flaws itself, Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned Monday. The law, which was up for reauthorization more than three years ago, expects all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, among other things. As that deadline approaches with no sign of the benchmark being met – and as more and more schools are labeled as failing as a result – many states and districts have been clamoring for relief from the sanctions imposed by NCLB for schools that fail to meet their targets.

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Ten of the best high school lip-dub videos

Lip-dub videos have taken high school video production classes by storm, with some reaching viral status on YouTube.

Lip-dubbing has taken high school video production classes by storm. The trend, which began in 2006, describes the process of dubbing music over a lip-sync video that is usually filmed in one continuous shot, with the cameras winding through the hallways of the school’s campus.

These videos tend to become local phenomena, with some reaching viral status. The latest to gain national recognition is ta lip dub from Clovis High School in Clovis, Calif.

The nearly 11-minute video has skyrocketed in popularity on YouTube. Posted late on June 3, the video had more than 65,000 hits by June 27.

Clovis High’s video — “Our World, Our Message, Our Legacy” — features the wrestling team dancing in the school office, students waving Star Wars-style light sabers, and more.

Every campus group or activity is represented, reports the Fresno Bee. Students who weren’t in sports or clubs were placed in scenes so everyone was included, said Clovis High activity director Chrissy Prandini, who spearheaded the two months of planning.

Students decided how they wanted to appear. “It was centered on self-expression and what you add to the class,” Prandini told the Bee.

The students picked the songs “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Firework” by Katy Perry to dub over the video.

Clovis High’s creation is on our list of the 10 best high school lip-dub videos from around the country. In compiling this list, we chose lip-dub videos that stick with the original single-shot style. Let us know which one is your favorite, or if we missed one you think others should see.

10. Shorecrest High School; Shoreline, Wash.

Kicking off our list, this video shows Shorecrest joining forces with rival Shorewood and local elementary and middle schools to create a pop culture game.


New PBS resource could help advance digital learning

PBS LearningMedia contains digital content specifically created for use in the classroom.

The Public Broadcasting System and Boston-based PBS station WGBH are releasing a new digital media platform for pre-kindergarten through college, called PBS LearningMedia. The site will provide digital content tied to curriculum standards and will be available in both a free and premium format.

Rob Lippincott, senior vice president of education for PBS, said the system—expected to be announced June 27—has been in development since the emergence of WGBH’s Teachers’ Domain and PBS’ Digital Learning Library.

“LearningMedia is a merger of those two efforts to create a single national educational media platform for public media,” Lippincott said.

“What we’re looking at is not the Digital Learning Library and not Teachers’ Domain, but building on those collective resources for a new service that draws on the strength of both of those efforts and is meant to reach out to all stations throughout the system, and through those stations to a whole range of different kinds of partnerships in the system,” said Michelle Korf, senior executive for educational media with WGBH.

PBS LearningMedia will include content from more than 55 member stations, independent producers, and public institution partners. The site plans to launch with 12,000 digital learning objects, which include video clips, documents, games, images, and activities.

“Approximately 60 percent of the collection is made up of video clips,” said Lippincott. “All of these are purpose-built short pieces of video that have been produced or adapted for use in the classroom. These are not simply segments of television.”


How brain research might affect instruction

Brain research could help improve teaching and learning.

The 32nd annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference kicked off June 26 with a lesson relating brain function to teaching and learning, and attendees explored how brain sciences might influence how educators deliver instruction.

Educators must “help today’s students prepare for tomorrow’s complexities,” said new ISTE President Holly Jobe in opening remarks. This includes helping students learn to love learning, and simply helping students learn how to learn.

“Technology does, and can, provide a gateway” to a vast array of learning experiences, Jobe said. “The walls of the classrooms are coming down.”

And technology can help students see other ways of thinking, but also helps them to identify commonalities when it comes to learning in different countries and cultures.

For more information on brain research and education, see:

The Science of Learning: How Current Brain Research Can Improve Education

Jobe challenged ISTE 2011 attendees and said that educators are not tapping technology’s potential in classrooms because they are not engaging students.

“[We must] meet them in their world,” she said, so that they can become “involved and engaged in their learning,” she said.

The opening keynote featured Dr. John J. Medina, who wrote Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Medina presented a perspective on how different physiological factors of the human brain embrace and shape student potential.

Medina told the audience that certain brain myths, such as the oft-quoted adage that humans only use 10 percent of their brains, are not true. In fact, scientists and researchers don’t know very much about how the brain actually works, but what they do know might help to inform instruction.


Online nurse training feels old-school heat

Excelsior graduates more than 2,000 nurses at the associate, bachelor's and master's level.

From its modest headquarters nestled in an Albany business park, Excelsior College has become the largest nursing school in the nation.

The school has 16,000 nursing students and, each year, graduates more than 2,000 nurses at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s level, with the majority earning associate degrees.

You won’t see thousands of cars coming and going from its campus on Washington Avenue Extension because Excelsior students take their courses online.

Ninety percent of the students live outside New York state.

While the school is accredited and has received numerous honors, Excelsior has come under fire in many states because its students do not get supervised clinical training — the hallmark of traditional nursing education.

California and Maryland will not license Excelsior’s nursing graduates, and nursing boards in 13 other states have restrictions or additional training requirements for Excelsior graduates.

Read the full story on eCampus News