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Broadband Expansion

Underserved schools are getting some extra support in their quest to access high-speed broadband services. The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition - an internet access advocacy group - released its new "Broadband Action Plan" last week. The plan is made up of 10 research papers that detail strategies for ensuring that anchor institutions - schools, libraries, healthcare providers, community colleges, public media, public housing, and other community organizations - have access to gigabit internet speeds. These anchor institutions are central to ensuring that broadband Internet is available to those most in need. While a lot of attention is paid to residential or commercial access to high-speed broadband, connecting anchor institution is a cost-effective way to ensure that every community and every individual has high-speed access to the Internet The action plan is part of the coalition's broader "Grow2Gig+" initiative, a push to connect all anchor institutions to gigabit speeds by 2020. Read More »

FY 207 Deadline Looms

As this legislative session draws to an end, Congress has been very busy, especially on the House side. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed the 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill. Funding for the Department of Education was set at $67 billion, down $1.3 billion from FY2016. The Senate set Department of Education FY17 funding at $67.8 billion. In something of a surprise, the House bill appropriated $1 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant (SSAEG) program. That's a lot more than the Senate's $300 million appropriation, though still under the $1.6 billion level authorized in ESSA. Read More »

EdNET 2016 Program, Platform Integration

The program for EdNET 2016 is now available and as always Vicki Bigham, our conference manager, has done a terrific job. Maybe because I've been knee deep in ISTE coverage, reviewing the program I see a number of parallels to ISTE. Of course, EdNET takes a business perspective, examining market trends with an eye to devising business strategies based on those trends. The perspective may differ, but the core trends and issues are common to both educators and providers. EdNET sessions will focus on the implications of ESSA, bridging the educator-provider trust gap, new marketplaces and their role in procurement reform, challenges from non-traditional players and market drivers and moving from storytelling to storymaking, among others. Attendees will also hear from our traditional panel of district superintendents as well as a panel of classroom teachers.It's a meeting you can't afford to miss.

This issue wraps up the last of the ISTE announcements that crossed my desk. Read More »

Google Expeditions, Amazon Inspire

I don't remember the last time I saw so many announcements come out of the annual ISTE conference. There were a lot of new companies and organizations represented and I've tried to cast as broad a net as possible, but know I've missed things. I've posted some things only to the web site - mostly things not related to new/updated products and services, so this would be a good week to just click through to the web site, where you will be able to see everything, along with a brief summary that should help you decide if you want to dive deeper.
Both Google and Amazon got a lot of attention at ISTE this year. Google has been courting the school market for some time now, both with Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom. Amazon Inspire is Amazon's first formal focus on the school market. Read More »

Making in the Spotlight

President Obama made use of his bully pulpit that past week to focus the nation's attention on the Maker Movement. The president has been promoting making since 2014, when he launched the Nation of Makers initiative to ensure more Americans of all ages and backgrounds have greater opportunities to design, build, and manufacture. The 2016 National Week of Making (June 17- 23) was marked by hundreds of events nationwide to celebrate making and innovation. And hundreds of organizations renewed or made new commitments to support making. Read More »

FY 2017 Appropriations Move Forward

Congress has been quietly working on FY 2017 appropriations bills. The budget process is likely to be much less dramatic this year, though it's not clear that all 12 bills will be passed by both houses of Congress before the new federal fiscal year starts on October 1, 2016. On June 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee, with bipartisan support, passed the bill that funds the Department of Education. Given the tight budget cap, FY 2017 appropriations levels are fairly close to those approved in FY 2016. One major disappointment for many observers was the $300 million funding level approved for ESSA's new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. Read More »

Technology Counts

This week, Education Week released Technology Counts, its annual look at the state of technology in American schools. It’s an interesting overview that draws on teacher survey results, profiles some teachers on the leading edge of technology integration and includes several solid analytic pieces that examine the challenges of moving toward more meaningful technology use. Read More »

Ed Week Sunsets Diplomas Count

Education Week released the tenth annual edition of "Diplomas Count" this week and announced that it was ending its annual spotlight coverage of graduation rates with this 2016 edition. When the first "Diplomas Count" was published back in 2006, there was no uniformity in the ways states reported graduation rate rates to the federal government. Education Week developed its own uniform measure - the Cumulative Promotion Index - which allowed it to calculate graduation rates for every school district in the country and report results for the nation as a whole. Read More »

Research Resources

This week I want to share a few resources that some readers may find helpful. I continue to believe that research will be increasingly important as schools move begin to adapt to the increased flexibility - and responsibility - afforded by ESSA. It's a big job for a company to keep up with what's happening in the education research world, but there are some resources that can help. Two of my favorites, because they are compact, easy to read and help keep me up to date on approaches to effectiveness research, are newsletters from Empirical Education and SEG Measurement. Read More »

SBIR Supports Ed Tech Developers

The Department of Education/Institute of Education Sciences' Small Business Innovation Research (ED/IES SBIR) program recently announced the award of 14 new contracts for FY 2016. The IES/SBIR program provides funding to small business firms and partners for the research and development of commercially viable education technology products designed to support student learning, teacher practice, or school administration in education or special education. The Department of Education's SBIR program has an annual budget of $7.5M.

There are some familiar names on this year's grantee list. Among the nine Phase I ($150,000, six-month contracts) grantees are EdSurge, Fablevision, Schell Games, and SpryFox. Teachley won a two-year $900,000 Phase II contract. Read More »