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Top ed-tech stories to watch: eRate gets a facelift

eSchool News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 7:00am
No. 2 on our list of key ed-tech trends for the new school year is the dramatic overhaul of the eRate, the nation’s school wiring program

The FCC’s new rules aim to transform the eRate from a telecommunications program into a broadband program that supports the delivery of high-speed internet service within schools.

[Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories examining five key ed-tech developments to watch for the 2014-15 school year. Our countdown continues tomorrow with No. 1.]

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced the most significant changes to the eRate, the $2.4 billion-a-year federal school connectivity program, in the program’s 17-year history.

The eRate offers discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications services, internet access, and “internal connections” (such as routers, switches, and Wi-Fi equipment) to eligible schools and libraries.

Until now, internal connections have been designated as “Priority 2” services and have been funded only after all requests for “Priority 1” services (telecommunications services and internet access) were met. However, that left most schools without any eRate funding for Wi-Fi equipment and other internal connections.

The FCC’s new eRate rules set aside $5 billion in funding over the next five years for the internal connections needed to extend broadband access within schools and libraries.

To spread this funding to the largest number of applicants possible, the agency has taken two key steps: (1) It has limited the maximum discount on these services at 85 percent, and (2) it has placed a $150-per-student cap on the amount of internal connections that schools can apply for within a five-year period.

What’s more, the FCC has introduced a new category of service that is eligible for eRate support: managed Wi-Fi, or “managed internal broadband services” as the agency refers to it.

Before, schools could apply for eRate discounts only on the purchase of internal connections, or on the basic maintenance of this equipment. Now, schools will be able to contract with Wi-Fi providers to install and manage this equipment—and this full-service approach to wireless service would be eRate-eligible.

(Next page: What the new rules mean for schools)

Categories: Literacy Now!

New eRate rules invite a new approach: Managed Wi-Fi

eSchool News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 10:00pm
The FCC’s extensive eRate overhaul includes a new type of eligible service, managed Wi-Fi, which could lead to more outsourced networks in K-12 schools

Managed Wi-Fi will be eligible for eRate support as a Category 2 service.

[Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]

On page 49 of its “Seventh Report and Order,” a 176-page document that rewrites the rules governing the $2.4 billion-a-year eRate, the Federal Communications Commission refers to a new category of service that is eligible for eRate support: managed Wi-Fi, or “managed internal broadband services” as the agency refers to it.

Before, schools could apply for eRate discounts only on the purchase of routers, switches, wireless access points, and other internal connections, or on the basic maintenance of this equipment. Now, the FCC’s new rules allow schools to enter into contracts that call for Wi-Fi providers to install and manage this equipment—and this full-service approach to wireless service would be eRate-eligible.

This change “will allow schools, for the first time, to leverage eRate discounts to outsource major aspects of delivering on-campus broadband connectivity,” said John Harrington, chief executive officer of the eRate consulting firm Funds For Learning. “This is analogous to a school cafeteria considering bids to manage their kitchen and serve students meals.”

These types of agreements “could lead to improved network performance,” Harrington added.

(Next page: More details about managed Wi-Fi’s eligibility—and one state’s experience with the service)

Categories: Literacy Now!

Explore new and free ed funding options

eSchool News - Tue, 08/12/2014 - 10:00pm
Free learning community offers funding resources, tips

CDW-G, a provider of technology solutions to education, government, and healthcare, and edWeb.net, a professional learning and social network for the education community, have partnered on a free professional learning community around educational funding.

The professional learning community will provide a place for educators to engage with peers on successes, challenges, and best practices associated with educational funding. Additionally, community members will collaborate with each other to expand innovative programs, prepare students for the increasingly complex skills they’ll need to participate in tomorrow’s workforce, and help close the equity gap in educating students from all backgrounds and circumstances.

This collaborative community is free for educators, thanks to the support of CDW-G. The multifaceted program will host interactive webinars and provide an online community where members can learn from each other 24/7 through a discussion forum, resource library, and other web 2.0 tools. The program is an extension of CDW-G’s GetEdFunding.com website, a free and fresh grant-finding resource, which hosts a collection of more than 2,000 active grants and awards. Dedicated to helping educators identify the financial backing that’s needed to take learning to higher level, this 2013 AEP Beacon Award-winning site was designed for K-12 and higher education institutions, and delivers access to more than $2.1 billion in educational funding opportunities.

“CDW-G is dedicated to providing the best possible resources to our customers,” said Joe Simone, director of K-12, CDW-G. “GetEdFunding is very much an extension of that philosophy – designed for K-12 and higher education professionals and institutions to find grant opportunities to augment their budgets, expand critical programs and provide additional resources to their students.”

Lynn Scott, senior program director for edWeb.net, added, “At edWeb, we know that funding is top of mind with so many educators. Every day, they are in our webinars and community forums asking for funding advice. This community answers the call of so many edWeb members, and we are grateful to CDW-G for providing a program to help our members navigate educational funding opportunities.”

Educators can join the free GetEdFunding community on edWeb to stay informed about upcoming webinars, join in discussions with peers and funding experts, and gain access to valuable resources. The community is a collaborative forum, and community members are invited to share their expertise by presenting a webinar to their peers. Interested educators are encouraged to contact edWeb’s Lynn Scott to submit a request to present.

Categories: Literacy Now!

A $5 billion bounty: How to use eRate support for Wi-Fi

eSchool News - Mon, 08/11/2014 - 10:27pm
The eRate will provide $5 billion over the next five years to help schools and libraries install Wi-Fi and other technologies needed to deliver broadband within their buildings; here’s how

[Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles examining the new eRate rules and how they will affect schools.]

Because of the five-year funding cap, K-12 technology leaders will have to think strategically about their Wi-Fi needs.

The FCC’s new eRate rules set aside $5 billion over the next five years for the equipment needed to extend broadband access within schools and libraries, including routers, switches, wireless access points, wireless controllers, and other Wi-Fi equipment.

The new rules include changes that will spread this funding to a large number of applicants, ensuring support for schools that haven’t received eRate discounts on internal connections before. Here’s what you’ll need to know to take advantage.

From ‘Priority 2’ to ‘Category 2’ services

According to a recent Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) survey, 57 percent of K-12 chief technology officers believe their networks aren’t robust enough to support digital learning—and 40 percent of classrooms don’t have Wi-Fi or other broadband access.

To address this problem, the Federal Communications Commission has undertaken the largest reforms to the eRate in the program’s 17-year history.

The FCC approved the first of these sweeping changes in a 3-2 vote on July 11. Two weeks later, the agency issued a 176-page document, called the Seventh Report and Order, describing these changes in more detail.

The eRate offers discounts ranging from 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connections (such as routers, switches, and Wi-Fi equipment) to eligible schools and libraries. Now indexed to inflation, the program will supply more than $2.4 billion in discounts this year.

The FCC’s new rules target $1 billion of this funding to Wi-Fi equipment and other internal connections for each of the next two years, and the agency promises another $3 billion for internal broadband connections in the three years after that.

This move is significant, because until now these services were called “Priority 2” services and were funded only after all requests for Priority 1 services (telecommunications services and internet access) were met.

However, that left most schools without any eRate funding for Wi-Fi equipment and other internal connections.

The FCC’s Seventh Order changes the description of these services from “Priority 2” to “Category 2.” To spread the Category 2 funding to the broadest number of applicants possible, the FCC has taken two key steps: (1) It has limited the maximum discount on these services at 85 percent, and (2) it has capped the amount of funding that applicants can receive on these services within a five-year period.

(Next page: More details about the five-year funding cap—and new rules on eRate-eligible equipment)

Categories: Literacy Now!

August: 4 education grants you don’t want to miss

eSchool News - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 11:00pm
School grants offer much-needed financial help for schools

School funding difficulties show no sign of abating, and school budgets are stretched to the limit. Many educators and administrators rely on school grants to fund important projects and opportunities for students.

Each month, eSchool News compiles a list of the most current education grants expiring soon—from a focus on STEM learning to funding for financial education programs. You don’t want to miss out on these school funding opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

(Next page: August’s funding opportunities)

Categories: Literacy Now!

Start the school year off with new furniture

eSchool News - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 7:15pm

Back-to-School Giveaway from OFM

OFM, an office and school furniture manufacturer, distributor, and wholesaler, announced today it is kicking off a brand new back-to-school giveaway aimed at teachers and other educational staffers. The winner will receive 20 colorful Rico Student Stack Chairs to start the 2014/2015 academic year off with a new classroom. Contestants can enter to win the “Sit Down and Learn Giveaway” simply by liking OFM’s Facebook page–www.facebook.com/ofminc–and sending an eMail to sitdownandlearn@ofminc.com with “learn” in the subject line along with a one-word description of the chairs their students currently use, for instance dirty, old, broken, worn, uncomfortable, etc.

Deadline: Aug. 15, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

$1K for tuition, plus tech, for motivated college students

eSchool News - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 7:13pm

VIZIO Back-to-School Success Contest

This contest gives college students the opportunity to share a story of determination to further their education. Whether they worked two jobs through school, overcame a learning disability or were the first in their family to graduate and go on to college, many students have a special story of perseverance and success. In this unique contest, students across the country are encouraged to visit http://www.VIZIO.com/student to upload a video or photo essay detailing a personal story of determination, telling VIZIO why they should win the grand prize. The winning student will receive a VIZIO prize package, including a 40″ E-Series Smart TV, a new 2.1 Sound Stand perfect for bringing rich audio to the dorm room, $1,000 toward tuition, money for books and be able to help VIZIO give back to a local Boys & Girls Club in their college town.

Deadline: Aug. 19, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

Innovative projects could get $1K

eSchool News - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 7:11pm

Toshiba America Foundation Grants For Grades K-5

Do you teach in an elementary school classroom? Do you have an innovative idea for improving math or science instruction in your classroom? Is your idea project based learning with measurable outcomes? What do you need to make learning math and science fun for your students? K-5 grade teachers are invited to apply online for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their own classroom.
With a Toshiba America Foundation grant, elementary teachers can bring their best new teaching ideas to life.

Deadline: Oct. 1, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

$1K awards for youth runners

eSchool News - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 7:10pm

Kids Run the Nation Fund Grants

In 2007, the RRCA developed the Kids Run the Nation Fund to assists running clubs, events, and schools that are interested in implementing or currently have a youth running program. Since 2007, the RRCA has granted a total of $95,000 to deserving youth programs around the US, along with donating thousands of copies of Kids Run the Nation program guides and kids booklets. This small grant program (20-30 grants of $500-$1,000 each) is funded by restricted contributions from RRCA members, individuals, foundations, and corporations. One hundred percent of the money raised is restricted to the grant fund and no portion of contributions to the Kids Run the Nation Fund are used for administrative expenses. Grants are awarded on an annual basis through an application and selection process overseen by a volunteer selection panel. Running clubs, events, or other organizations with the IRS 501(c)(3) designation are eligible to apply. Elementary and middle schools that provide an organized after-school running programs are eligible as well.

Deadline: Oct. 1, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

FCC takes key step toward modernizing eRate

eSchool News - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 2:34pm
Voting along party lines, the FCC approves more funding for Wi-Fi connectivity—but doesn’t raise the funding cap

The FCC’s vote marks an ‘important early victory’ for students, CoSN said.

In a split decision along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to move ahead with a plan to modernize the eRate by increasing the amount of money available for high-speed internet access in schools.

The agency on July 11 approved a proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to retool the eRate to focus on expanding Wi-Fi connectivity within schools, without raising the program’s annual funding cap—which currently stands at $2.4 billion and is adjusted each year for inflation.

Under the new plan, the FCC will make available $2 billion in additional eRate funding over the next two years through “improved financial practices” that will free up excess funding reserves. This additional money will be designated for Wi-Fi equipment and distributed using a modified discount matrix of up to 85 percent, with a cap on requests.

For the following three years after that, the eRate will target $1 billion each year for Wi-Fi requests, while continuing to support the broadband connections that bring internet access into each building. To do this, the eRate will phase out support for non-broadband services, such as pagers and cell phones.

All told, the plan will mean $5 billion in funding targeted toward expanding Wi-Fi connectivity inside the nation’s schools and libraries over the next five years.

“While [the] eRate over its 18-year life has succeeded in connecting virtually all schools and libraries to the internet, it is not currently geared for today’s world of interactive, individualized digital learning,” the FCC said in a statement.

“By continuing to support broadband connectivity to the building while significantly expanding support for robust Wi-Fi networks within classrooms and libraries, [these] reforms can deliver the benefits of customized learning to students over tablets and laptops.”

(Next page: Other eRate changes—and reaction to the new FCC plan)

Categories: Literacy Now!

July: 4 education grants you don’t want to miss

eSchool News - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 11:00pm
School grants offer much-needed financial help for schools

School funding difficulties show no sign of abating, and school budgets are stretched to the limit. Many educators and administrators rely on school grants to fund important projects and opportunities for students.

Each month, eSchool News compiles a list of the most current education grants expiring soon—from a focus on STEM learning to funding for financial education programs. You don’t want to miss out on these July school funding opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

(Next page: July’s funding opportunities)

Categories: Literacy Now!

$4K grants for senior high math teachers

eSchool News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:41pm
Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas Grants for Grades 9–12 Teachers

The purpose of this grant is to create senior high classroom materials or lessons connecting mathematics to other fields. For 2015–2016, grants with a maximum of $4,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades 9–12. Materials may be in the form of books, visual displays, computer programs or displays, slide shows, videotapes, or other appropriate medium. The focus of these materials should be on showing the connectivity of mathematics to other fields or to the world around us. Any acquisition of equipment or payment of personal stipends must be critical to the grant proposal and may not be a major portion of the proposed budget. Any published sources must be documented. Proposals must address the following: the plan for developing and evaluating materials, the connectivity to other fields or disciplines, and anticipated impact on students’ learning.

Deadline: Nov. 7, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

$1.2-$2M federal STEM grants

eSchool News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:38pm
Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)

The Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program through research and model-building activities seeks to build understandings of best practice factors, contexts and processes contributing to K-12 students’ motivation and participation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) core domains along with other STEM cognate domains (e.g.,information and communications technology (ICT), computing, computer sciences, data analytics, among others) that inform education programs and workforce domains. The ITEST program funds foundational and applied research projects addressing the development, implementation, and dissemination of innovative strategies, tools, and models for engaging students to be aware of STEM and cognate careers, and to pursue formal school-based and informal out-of-school educational experiences to prepare for such careers.

Deadline: Nov. 6, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

Four $5K grants for financial literacy programs

eSchool News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:34pm

The Financially Literate Youth Grant Program, from CompareCards, provides funding for financial literacy programs in K-12 schools. Four $5,000 grants will be awarded to schools implementing or planning to implement a financial education program. To be eligible, schools must be a public, private, or charter K-12 school located in the United States. The school must have already implemented or is looking to implement a financial education program and must share overall results with CompareCards upon the program’s completion.

Deadline: Aug. 8, 2014

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$20K grants for middle, high school STEM projects

eSchool News - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:26pm
Verizon Innovative App Challenge

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge provides the opportunity for middle school and high school students, working with a faculty adviser, to apply their STEM knowledge, ingenuity, and creativity to develop an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community. The goal of the Challenge is to increase student interest and knowledge in STEM subjects and mobile technology through an engaging and empowering learning experience.
Deadline: Nov. 24, 2014

Categories: Literacy Now!

June: 4 education grants you don’t want to miss

eSchool News - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 11:00pm
School grants offer much-needed financial help for schools

School funding difficulties show no sign of abating, and school budgets are stretched to the limit. Many educators and administrators rely on school grants to fund important projects and opportunities for students.

Each month, eSchool News compiles a list of the most current education grants expiring soon—from a focus on cultural traditions to prizes for deserving educators. You don’t want to miss out on these June school funding opportunities for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

(Next page: June’s funding opportunities)

Categories: Literacy Now!

$10K and national recognition for school superintendents

eSchool News - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 10:22am

Now in its 28th year, the AASA National Superintendent of the Year Program pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead our nation’s public schools. This program is sponsored by Aramark, VALIC and AASA.

Categories: Literacy Now!

Gift cards for prize-winning student essays

eSchool News - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 10:09am

Students entering 5th and 6th grades in the fall of 2014 are eligible. Essays, focused on a single book, should be one page in length and must be submitted with an entry form, in person, at participating public library locations.

Categories: Literacy Now!

$100K in projector technologies

eSchool News - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 10:03am

Administrators and faculty of public or private schools in the United States can enter Casio’s LampFree® Projector Education Grant for a chance to win one Casio Ultra Short Throw projector (model: XJ-UT310WN) for their school worth $2,000. One winner will be selected in each state for a total donation of approximately $100,000 in projector technology throughout the duration of the program.

Categories: Literacy Now!

Reading Rainbow aims to improve literacy once more

eSchool News - Wed, 06/04/2014 - 10:30pm
For three decades, Reading Rainbow helped inspire joy in reading and books for generations of children. A new app aims to reboot the popular children’s program.

From 1983 to 2009, the nonprofit PBS television program Reading Rainbow helped improve children’s literacy with fun and interactive skits led by actor LeVar Burton.

“But you don’t have to take my word for it.”

If you remember Burton’s famous catchphrase, you might get sentimental watching his new Kickstarter campaign to help teach children how to read.

The Kickstarter campaign pledge was $1 million. At the time this article was written, over $3.2 million had been raised.

(Next page: How your donations will impact children’s literacy)

Categories: Literacy Now!
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