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Minutes (approved 4/16/98)
March 12, 1998
Nebraska Department of Education, Room B
301 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, Nebraska

Members Present: Art Tanderup, Teacher, Tekamah-Herman School District; Jeff Johnson, Teacher, Centennial School District; Susan Fees, Teacher, Christ the King School, Omaha; Kristine Wolzen, Supt. Arlington School district; Jan Dodge, Principal, Adams Elementary, Omaha; Gil Kettlehut, Administrator, ESU #2, Omaha (for Terry Miller, Administrator, ESU #13, Scottsbluff ); Alan Wibbels, ESU #10, Kearney; Keith Bartels, Board Member, Lincoln; James Moeser, Chancellor, UNL; Bill Berndt, Chancellor, UNMC, Omaha; Uma G.Gupta, Creighton University, Omaha; John Muller, President, Bellevue University, Bellevue; Jack Huck, President, Southeast Community College, Lincoln; John Stoll, (for Donald Mash, President, Wayne State College, Wayne); Robert Burns, President, Peru State College, Peru

Members Not Represented: Richard Gilliland, President, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha;

Ex-officio Members Present: Dean Bergman, Administrator, Technology Center, NDE; Lisa Lewis, Staff Assistant, NDE Technology Center; David Powers, Executive Director, Post-secondary Coordination Commission. Lincoln.|

Others Present: Kim Robak, Lt. Governor; Doug Christensen, Commissioner of Education, Lincoln; Rodney Armstrong, State Information Technology Coordinator; William Miller, Director, Division of Communications; Chris Hoy, Division of Communications; Barbara Edwards, Director, Data Processing, ESU #3; Al Schneider, Administrator, ESU # 5, Beatrice; Don Vanderheiden, Planning Consultant, NDE; Tim Erickson, Intergovernmental Information Coordinator, Lincoln; Larry Wade, Facilitator of Technology Services, Bellevue Public Schools.

The first meeting of the Education Council of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission began at 1:00 a.m. on March 12, 1998. A proposed agenda for the meeting was distributed to all members and attendees (attached). This was followed by a welcome by acting chair Dean Bergman and a round of self introductions by the members and others present. Doug Christensen, Commissioner of Education welcomed the group and presented some opening remarks relative to the value of the Council and the charge before them. David Powers, Executive Director of the Post-secondary Coordination Commission also provided a welcome and opening remarks. Dr. Powers commented on the need to communicate across the different sectors relative to technology infrastructure and viewed the use of the NITC structure as a means to accomplish this. He also distributed two handouts (attached) and asked the members to read and provide feedback. Both the Nebraska Department of Education and the Post-secondary Coordination Commission serve as the facilitators for the Education Council.

At this time the agenda called for an election of co-chairpersons, one from the K-12 representatives and one from the higher education representatives. Following a short discussion it was decided to delay the election of co-chairs until the next regular meeting. Rationale associated with this decision was that the members did not know each other well enough yet for the election to occur. It was suggested that a short biography be submitted by each member to the acting chair who would in turn make the bio's available on the web site. This would help in the members becoming better known to one another prior to the next meeting election. It was also decided that the acting co-chairs, Dean Bergman and David Powers would fill the role as acting chairs for the remainder of this meeting.

Lt. Governor Kim Robak welcomed the Education Council Members and talked of how people tend to do the same thing the same way unless provided a structure and leadership to to do differently. She indicated that we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us today with the technology tools now available to change the world we live in to integrate technology into our curriculum and to train the teachers. Previously, many technology dollars were vetoed simply because our Governor had no way of knowing how important they were nor if the proposals were economically sound. The goal of the NITC is not to slow down the progress of technology implementation. Instead it is in place to facilitate the usage and spread of technology. It should be used as a tool to get legislation through faster and more often, a tool to promote the use of technology and to provide maintenance and support. Our charge is to establish the needs of technology in education and to make sure that the infrastructure we put in place is best leveraged.

Questions arose and discussion occurred at the encouragement of the Lt Governor following her presentation. Lt. Governor Robak encouraged to Education Council to identify how they could best evaluate their activities and actions. In answer to the question of how this Council relates to the NITC, the Lt. Governor emphasized that the Councils were to identify the needs of those they represented and recommend to the NITC technology infrastructure proposals that best accommodate the identified needs. It was not the role of the NITC to decide what is needed nor to rate the needs of the Councils.

It was asked if the amendment to exclude the legislature for the provisions of NITC in LB 924 passed. The answer was yes with the provision that the legislature could take advantages of the funds and services provided in LB 924. The question was asked " how would NITC deal with any maverick groups" or those that had technology infrastructure projects that were state funded and not channeled through the NITC process? All state funded projects (with the exception of those excluded in the LB 924) are required to go through the NITC process. If they choose not to do so they are at risk of losing their funding.

Rod Armstrong, State Information Technology Coordinator visited with the Council. He indicated that he was very confident that LB 924 would pass and be signed by the Governor. Rod highlighted and modeled the NITC web page and pointed out the link with the three Councils' web pages. The web page accommodated minutes and agendas of all the meetings, a "chat or discussions segment and contained the text of the 1995 Infrastructure Plan put together through the efforts of the Information Resources Council represented by all the state agencies. Council members are encouraged to read this document as it provides some history and background that may be helpful in carrying out charge to the Education Council. This document contains a summary of needs that may not be all that different from the current needs.

Copies of the pages of LB 924 that pointed out the role and mission of the Education Council were distributed and discussed. The charge to the Education Council is to:

1. Identify and prioritize education needs that could be met cost effectively through the use of information technology;
2. Report its needs, priorities, and recommended projects to the commission in the manner determined by the commission;
3. Recommend to the commission a plan for funding projects to address identified needs;
4. Adopt policies and guidelines for acceptable and cost-effective use of information technology in education;
5. Establish such subcommittees, task forces, or working groups as necessary and appropriate to advise the education council on matters including coordination of technology initiatives, information technology operations, information management, data administration, technology planning and training; and
6. Communicate information developed under this section through methods such as the technology information clearinghouse.

Bill Miller, Director, Division of Communications presented to the Council a proposal he drafted to set in place a fiber "backbone" down the Interstate 80 right-of way (copy of his PowerPoint presentation text attached). His proposal is similar to that done in Minnesota. They opened up their "limited access" highways for underground buried communication items, and put out a bid request to the carriers. ICS got the bid with the agreement that ICS had a 10 year right to use the wires, with the state allowed 20% of the bandwidth. This was a $150 million project for ICS. Twenty one states currently allow their interstate highway to be used for buried fiber and only about seven state are getting anything back for their own use. The state of Minnesota is paying only about 15% of what they would have to had they done it on their own. Mr. Miller is proposing a joint project between the Department of Roads and Communications. If all goes according to plan the joint project will go out for bids in June, bids will be due in September. The Department of Roads is very supportive of this project. According to Bill, this proposal should be viewed as an add-on to satellite services, to compliment it and not eliminate the NEB*SAT sites.

It was asked, what is the relative attractiveness of doing something new rather than using whatever dark fiber is already in place? Also, is there any way this could be tied into the NPPD fibers and corridors? Yes, technically even NPPD could be a bidder. How is this related to the Council's role and mission, and is it premature in putting it forth prior to the Councils playing out their roles? At this point in time, they know that the Department of Roads is going to have needs all along the I-80 corridor. All they are trying to do is make sure that the state does the smart thing by not getting services that may end up being limited. This is such a generic pipe, that you can hardly lose in light of the potential future use of this technology. Right now, we want to take full advantage of the potential benefits to Nebraska in providing a right-of-way for private carriers to lay the fiber. Also, with our geographic location, it is to our advantage to get something in place which may end up providing additional commerce to the state if we are compatible in our availability to telecommunications services already in place. This is not going to be able to address all of the needs we will have.

Chris Hoy, Division of Communications was invited to share with the Council some thoughts relative to the possibility of overlap among the Councils, especially between the Community Council and the Education Council. The Community Council has met twice. They are responsible for identifying the problems that are encountered and the needs of business, agriculture, health and local and regional government. Chris is looking to identify problems and issues where there is overlap between public and private entities so we can resolve them together.

One area of overlap and a top priority is the education of our citizens; not everyone is being educated in our schools. For example, city managers have an intense need to learn technology related to their jobs. Continuing education for variety of adults may be accommodated through the schools and libraries if they are equipped and open to get this done. The Applied Information Management Institute (AIM) serves OT professionals in Lincoln and Omaha. Perhaps we could create an AIM program to accommodate the western part of the state. The Education Council is alerted to the fact that the Community Council will be coming to them to help resolve this issue.

David Powers, Executive Director, Post-secondary Coordination Commission took a few minutes to inform the Council of several technology related projects currently underway in higher education that impact on the Council activities.. In early summer, they will offer it to any institution within the states that wish to go online with them. The Midwestern Higher Education Commission of 8 midwestern states are looking at buying courseware for as many as 650 other colleges, thus purchasing at a major reduction in cost. If there is interest in having these classes demonstrated at future meeting, David will be available to do so.

Within Nebraska, how do we share courses? The attachment entitled Sharing Costs and Revenues of Telecommunicated Courses; Some Alternative Models, is a rough cut of what will be a long conversation and this will be brought back to this Council at a later meeting. The attachment entitled Commission on Institutions of Higher Education; North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, lists the guidelines for distance education and have been adopted by all six associations at this time. Dr. Powers will ask the Commission to apply these guidelines and principles to any new participating institutions. (Post meeting note: On April 12, the Coordinating Commission did vote, consistent with the Education Council's vote, that the North Central Assocation standards be used as one set of evalution criteria for proposed courses to be delivered by new or out of state institutions.

A discussion of issues, concerns and suggestions occurred at this point in the meeting agenda. Kristine Wolzen expressed that she hoped this council was to be about ideas and would like to be certain that we know where all of the parts are, new courses offered, associated Councils. She would also like for us to come up with some sort of picture of ourselves before we jump into too many things. " We also have to avoid turf wars for we have many things to offer and lay on the table. We also have much duplication out there now which if avoided may lend to a higher degree of application and different schools raising to a higher level in specific areas. There also needs to be a seamlessness between K-12 and what was perceived after that; referring back to the courses talked about by David Powers, mentorships with gifted and other kids, a set of links with different kinds of peoples (cultures and points of view).

Alan Wibbels said "we do a good job of delivering services, but a terrible job of letting people know what we are doing. We are doing many good things. For example, the NetDay concept that other states are just now involved with in getting their schools wired, we did two and one-half years ago with LB 860. Evidently there are not enough voters in Nebraska to make it national news. We need to remove barriers to getting that information out. ESUs need to get past this to get done some of the things we want to make happen."

Keith Bartels indicated that the technology conferences happening over the past four years have been wonderful avenues for learning content and for making contacts. There is a lot of necessary duplication out there, the only type of duplication that is not good is unnecessary duplication. We need to not look at how we can stop projects but how we can sort out when you say yes to one thing, you are in effect saying no to something else.

Kristine Wolzen further stated that "this Council also should assist in looking for additional funding, corporations, foundations, who would be interested in becoming a part of something special and unique to Nebraska."

James Moeser stated "from the university side, they want to hear how they can best meet needs, recognizing that tax lids are putting constraints on what they will be able to provide. The higher education system is open to respond to that, once identified what is needed. Teacher training and teacher re-training are things that they are also focusing on.

Jeff Johnson said "we need to look beyond the legislature and look out to the corporate sector. We need to be thinking about technology in a much broader sense then just thinking of computers, we need to nook at satellites and other technology. There is a concern about censoring of the Internet in schools. Some of the screening software now in place in the ESUs are restricting access to important news groups and sites. We need to see the future trends coming out so we can look ahead, anything we bring in now is old. Phone companies need to be approached statewide to help with equity issues, not having same access without having to pay additional rates because of geographic locations."

Where do we start with the needs identification process? Co-chair Bergman suggested we discuss the process we want to utilize to get a full understanding of the educational technology needs in Nebraska, one of the Council's first tasks. Do we want to utilize a strategic planning process with an outside facilitator as the structure to bring this about? Alan Wibbels asked if we want to build off the 1995 inventory? Rod Armstrong indicated that this would be a good starting point. We need to check with the other three councils to be certain that we are building off the same infrastructure. Each council has a unique character. The Government Council has been going on for a couple of years, and the Community Council has surfaced a few specific needs.

Kristine Wolzen said " more clarification is needed, use the strategic planning model, talk about what's going on now, build an information base to be used as a needs to education at both levels. How are we going to know what our needs are unless we know where we want to go? I would like to see a show and tell to see what's going on to open up discussion and facilitate creative ideas (i.e. CLASS, Western Governors). This does not need to be in-depth, just a brief on each idea."

David Powers said "UNL has done a needs analysis. We could borrow theirs. Each college seems to do, in each geographic area, their own needs analysis. Would they be willing to share what already exists? i.e. the three EIM studies which, ironically, found that they needed to start as juniors in high school to be successful. I could give an online presentation at the next meeting with a PC Internet connection. What type of things have K-12 done? He also suggested that we should define what we mean by the word "needs. If we aren't careful and we start telling people how we define their needs, we will be cut off and be one of the groups we try to avoid dealing with." Co-chair Bergman talked about the existence of technology plans at NDE, all the ESUs and 300 school districts, and an already highly developed infrastructure that has resulted from these planning efforts. Jack Huck suggested that we come up with some way to synthesize these 300 plans into an "edible" portion.

Based on the discussion it seemed to be the desire of the Education Council to devote the entire next meeting to becoming familiar with the current status of education technology in K-12 and higher education along with the perceived needs that emerge from the discussion of the current technology status. The charge was give to Co-chairs Bergman and Powers to organize the next meeting in such a manner that effectively covers the current status in both sectors yet do so in a manner that is interesting and entertaining.

The next meeting of the Education Council is scheduled for Thursday April 16, 1998 at 1:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Nebraska Department of Education, 6th floor of the State Office Building (agenda). The May meeting was set for the 14th at 1:00 p.m. at the 1111 "O" Street, Suite 111.

Meeting Minutes