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April 16, 1998
Nebraska Department of Education, State Board Room
301 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, Nebraska

Members Present: Richard Gilliland, President, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha; Jack Huck, President, Southeast Community College, Lincoln; John Stoll (for Donald Mash, President, Wayne State College, Wayne); Grady Batchelor (for John Muller, President, Bellevue University, Bellevue; Keith Bartels, Board Member, Lincoln; Susan Fees, Teacher, Christ the King School, Omaha; Jeff Johnson, Teacher, Centennial School District; Terry Miller, Administrator, ESU #13, Scottsbluff; Art Tanderup, Teacher, Tekamah-Herman School District; Alan Wibbels, Technology Director, ESU #10, Kearney; Kristine Wolzen, Supt. Arlington School District

Members Not Represented: Bill Berndt, Chancellor, UNMC, Omaha; Uma Gupta, Creighton University, Omaha; James Moeser, Chancellor, UNL; Janice Dodge, Principal, Adams Elementary, Omaha

Ex-officio Members Present: Dean Bergman, Administrator, Technology Center, NDE; David Powers, Executive Director, Post-secondary Coordination Commission, Lincoln; Betty Schneider, Secretary, NDE Technology Center

Others Present: Rod Armstrong, State Information Technology Coordinator; Don Ferneding, Distance Learning Coordinator, ESU #3, Omaha; Mike Wenkle, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Lincoln; Jim VanHorn, University of Nebraska Information Technology Plan; Carrol Krause, State Colleges Technology Plan; Dennis Baack, Community Colleges. Roger Wess, via teleconference call, from Chadron State College; Kathy Tenipor, Sandy Sostad, David Wageman, State Fiscal Analysts; Roger Bartlett, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Lincoln.

The second meeting of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission began at approximately 1:15 p.m., April 16, 1998. Dave Powers opened the meeting by having everyone introduce themselves and tell who they represent. The minutes of the March 12th meeting were reviewed and accepted by all.

At this time, discussion was opened for the election of co-chairs; one from the K-12 representatives and one from the higher education representatives. It was pointed out that only four members had responded to the idea of submitting a short biography. The question was asked if we wanted to wait and see if more were submitted or go ahead now with the election.

Kristen Wolzen asked what the responsibilities would be for this position. Dean Bergman commented that the duties would include facilitating the meetings and serve in a leadership type role when we begin to develop proposals. He emphasized that Dave and himself were there to offer support; ex-officio members. He told the group that the appointed members need to have ownership of this Commission. The agency facilitators will continue to provide support.

Keith Bartels opened the nominations by nominating Alan Wibbels from ESU #10 in Kearney. Jack Huck was then nominated by Richard Gilliland. There was a motion to close the nominations. Alan Wibbels and Jack Huck were elected co-chairs. It was decided that Dean Bergman and Dave Powers would facilitate today's meeting. Dean and Dave commented that they would work closely with Alan and Jack to develop the agendas for the upcoming meetings.

Discussion was opened on the possibility of appointing an advisory panel to consist of persons selected by the members who could augment what you bring to the table.

Dean commented that he had some suggestions from Lt. Governor Robak of people that were interested in becoming more active participants in this process. No official "nitch" now exists for them. The two that were suggested were Mike Dempsey and Larry Wade. Dean also stated that he had a letter from Metro Omaha Educational Association for Ron Vermood from UNO to play an active role.

It was suggested that each member contribute names that might be of assistance to them. Roger Wess from Chadron State College with the Midwest Higher Education Commission Courseware was mentioned. Also mentioned was Mike Wenkel from NETC. It was noted that it is not necessary for us to contribute names today. Are you comfortable with the idea of an Advisory Panel?

Jack Huck commented that it would add some depth to our discussions and would be a resource for the different things we deal with. Dean suggested they could be delegated assignments aligned with the proposals the group puts together. Richard Gilliland stated that a variety of vendors could be quite helpful to us in this capacity.

Dave Powers commented that we could meet with the newly elected co-chairs to work on the details. Alan Wibbels commented that it is kind of hard to ask an advisory panel to help when we don't yet really know ourselves what we are about. Keith Bartels stated that he agreed with Alan.

Dave Powers suggested that we carry this over to our next meeting. All members were in favor of delaying this discussion.

Rod Armstrong, State Information Technology Coordinator visited with the Commission on the current status of LB924 and the Education Council. He passed out copies of his presentation on the LB 924 Process. (Attached)

LB 924, as enacted into law, has the following requirements:

  • Nebraska Information Technology Commission
  • Councils Replaced by Work Groups
  • ESU Technology Initiative Review
  • Technical Panel Review
  • Legislative Review by January 1, 2001

    He stated that it was perceived there are too many appointments for the Governor to make; therefore, the requirement for the Commission to establish the work groups instead of the Councils.

    It was stated that all requests for new state appropriations for technology will go through the process. There are three steps to this process. (1) Need identified prioritized by councils; (2) Review/comment by the technical panel; (3) Recommendation by NITC to Governor & Legislature by November 15, 1998.

    Rod commented that requests not involving new state appropriations should use the process to coordinate. He also stated that interested parties should have the opportunity to get involved somewhere in the process.

    Suggestions for the 1998 process include focusing attention on
    requests for new state appropriations coming through the budget process; look at budget requests that involve technology.

    We need to make this work; look at the critical information you need; rely on the data currently used. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

    We also need to focus on educational needs to be served not the technology needs. We need to use the technical review panel as a sounding board. We need to work with each Council and sponsors. We need a sense of what is going on out there; outside of the state budget process.

    Dean informed the group that there are dollars in the budget for LB 924 to support work groups in reimbursing for expenses and also available for an executive director and staff.

    Jack commented that a lot of what has been presented is driven by the words state funding. We need clarification of the implications of that for this group. There is a significant representation of K-12 people here; which doesn't fall into state funding.

    Kathy Tenipor replied that there is K-12 state funding through the lottery, Department of Education. Is this a replacement for the NEB*SAT Appropriations Council?

    Jack responded that it would be helpful to have an outline of where that applies and where it doesn't. Dean commented that locally generated funds could be voluntarily channeled through the NITC process.

    Jack made the comment that he has heard some University folks talk about when funds are appropriated to the University they lose their state ownership and become University. Do we have a way to delineate which dollars fall under state?
    He also remarked that he hopes people at the state level will have some way to delineate between a, b, monies, etc. What does this do to the NEB*SAT Council? It was noted that it is still in Legislation as of this session.

    The question was asked how do we sort out or don't we go through NEB*SAT anymore?

    Kathy Tenopir, with the Legislative Council, stated that NEB*SAT is still in existence and will stay that way at least for another year. If this group is successful, it should take the place of NEB*SAT. We still have some dollars there through the next fiscal year. She also commented that through the process of LB 924, eight additional people were added to provide technical support to this group and sub groups. The other option is that this next go around you not submit to the NEB*SAT Council group. You should put a request together for this group and bring it up through the process.

    It is possible that you may have to put your request in through both places; much bigger issues than what went to NEB*SAT. This may represent 50% of our additional dollars. Kathy stated that technology is everywhere. It is up to the Legislature and the Governor to decide what to go with. We need to bring the little pieces together.

    Dean remarked that we can't escape the fact that all technology funding proposals should go through the NITC process; don’t think they will consider funding any that don't go through this process. We have to be realistic about every little piece of technology. Only concern I have is that we need to know what the rules are so we can proceed.

    Dave Powers replied that half of the requests did relate to technology. When do we want to claim jurisdiction? At what point do we say, it is our problem? He also commented that he endorses what Kathy and Dean said; do what NEB*SAT did but on a bigger scale.

    Rod remarked that we are asked to advise the Governor on the different appropriations. There is a long term desire to get back into needs assessments.

    Dean commented that reviewing requests or proposals will be the initial primary task of the Educational Council. Dave remarked that the NITC has great expectations of this group. This is a wonderful opportunity. The state needs you; you are very influential in how this plays out.

    At this point in the meeting, Jim VanHorn presented the University of Nebraska Information Technology Plan. He commented that the University has a relatively clear, detailed plan of what they want to do with technology. This includes the four campuses of UNK, UNL, UNO, and the UNO Medical Center. He passed out the handout entitled 1997-1998 University of Nebraska Technology Plan. (Attached.) Jim informed the group that for the University to increase its stature, both locally and nationally, by the end of the century, it will depend in no small measure on its progress in computing. Without a sound computing infrastructure, the ability to achieve our mission and goals will be lost. Therefore, we have proposed several computer-related initiatives. (See Attachment.)

    At this point in the meeting, Roger Wess, Chadron State College reported to the group, via telephone, about the Midwest Higher Education Commission Courseware. Roger remarked to the group that there are really interesting things taking place in higher education now. We need to look at how we can do this.

    He informed the group that Midwestern Higher Education Commission contacted Dr. Power's and himself to look at high quality multi-media courseware that could be delivered over the area network. They first met in Chicago and after a couple of meetings sent an RFP to 150 companies informing them that they were willing to demonstrate their interactive courseware. Out of the 150 companies, they received five returns. Of these five, there were only two that met the requirements of the RFP.

    The next move was for the Faculty Development Commission to get together with Academic Systems and develop a four-year process for using this material; and at the same time, going through a rather extensive research process to see how it works.

    The participation in this collaboration would be for the duration of a four year cycle. We are looking for an enrollment of about 1,000 students in courses in math and composition. We would compare these students with students who are not in the courses. This encourages faculty development on mediated learning and education outcomes.

    The area of education we can be much more prescriptive about is the affective and cognitive things students will get out of this courseware. This is a very primitive stage in doing a good job of meeting the needs of the students. It is going to be very costly and will require a tremendous amount of training.

    Roger than asked if there were any questions. He also informed the group that David Clark, who works for Academic Systems, has offered to come to the May 14th meeting and discuss the concerns of the English and math courses with computer mediated courseware.

    Keith Bartels asked if this courseware is applicable towards K-12 education or just for post-secondary. Roger answered that, yes, some is applicable to K-12. Midwest, however, is asking for participants from post-secondary.

    Dave Powers asked the group if we would want to ask David Clark to come to our next meeting. Roger recommended that we consider asking him to attend our meeting.

    Dean asked Roger if he could give us some idea of the infrastructure needs for this project and the Nebraska schools who will be participating. Roger informed us that the entire set would be on cd-roms, over the area network or stand alones. He commented that the wide area network or Internet can be used to support the present format. The cost per student would not be much more than the cost of a textbook. He stated that he does not think any schools from Nebraska are participating.

    Dave Powers informed the group that they are using six large school districts, California community colleges; the Nebraska community colleges being the prime users.

    Roger told the group that he will be receiving a letter asking for participation as the next step.

    Roger then talked to the group about the Western Governor's University. The main purpose of the call was to deal with accreditation; the integral regional process of putting together certificates they are going to process. Their plan is to offer accredited courses this fall. Chadron will be a pilot school; a three year grandfather situation in which we can put courses out with no cost to us. After the pilot, the cost to the schools in the state will be from $500 to $3,000 every year for three programs and five courses. He commented that the Smart Catalog is now being looked at for accreditation. The website address is It is moving along very slowly; they want to resolve the problems within the process before they go public.

    Dave asked the group if there were any questions. Dean asked what demands will be placed on the technology infrastructure with this project. Roger commented that there is a Smart panel of advisors on the Internet; Chadron and University of Wyoming. He indicated that as other schools come on board they will become a part of it. He told the group that there are courses from post-secondary education listed or you can take the WGU transcripted programs. They will not teach any courses themselves; comes back to us as providers for the coursework.

    Dave informed the group that there are three other colleges associated with this. They are Metro Community College, Central Community College and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Chadron State College has just received their doctorate program.

    Richard Gilliland remarked that it sounds great to have the person from Chicago come to our next meeting.

    Carrol Krause handed out copies of Technology Plans from Wayne State College, Peru State College and Chadron State Colleges. (Attached).

    He commented that their goal is to have the ability to share between two campuses, pods and community colleges; and they are very interested in continuing the connectivity with the pods. We are very committed to developing the relationship with the K-12 pods.

    He commented that there are a couple of issues that come to mind with the procedure whereby we bring this material to you. Do I really need to submit to NEB*SAT for the next year? We need to focus on that rather quickly and define that for us. The line charges that are being assessed to us are a major issue with us.

    There are other entities that are sub-groups of this. The Department of Administrative Services is sending out RFP for accounting and human resources; concerned that the needs of other entities are not taken into consideration. We need to have interaction with other entities so that they can solicit needs of other agencies in the state. There is nothing new in our request; just an expansion of what we are doing.

    We are moving to Lotus Notes for e-mail; working with other agencies as much as we can to save as much money as we can. We will submit our entire technology plan when ready.

    Dennis Baack talked in regards to the community colleges. He informed the group that each one does their own technology plan. The main concern is student access; expand learning opportunities for all learners across the state. Each area is going through their own local budget process. What are our needs statewide? Most will be in multimedia classrooms and computer upgrades. Our major concern is with compatibility. We want to interconnect with the pods; need to make sure the compatibility is there.

    We have hundreds of sites and we need to have technical support at each site. Line charges are very important to us. Interconnectivity to all pods is very important; but there are massive line charges that go along with this. We need to work together as a state so we can create the kind of network we need to get the best price for line charges.

    He informed the group that they are working closely with state colleges and private colleges to make sure we are compatible with one another. It is working fairly well; it will be a challenge for this group in the near future. We need to know what the procedure is for technical support. We need to make it work better for us; give you projects that are pretty well set. Alan Wibbels commented that it cost Central Community College $135,000 to connect with the pods. There is a misconception that this has taken place.

    Our goal is to try and interconnect with all schools if possible. This will be good for the students.

    At this point in the meeting Mike Wenkle from NET discussed Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Projects and delivery.
    He told the group that Public TV and radio are integrally involved with distance learning, satellite, administrative and maintenance support video conference network.

    He informed the group that there are four key areas coming that will capture a great deal of attention for this Council. They are:

    1. Distance Learning Support - NITC technology support, review and planning process. They will receive funds through 924 to provide electronic resource services. We are getting around to how service can be provided.

    2. Replacement and configuration of a state transponder. Also, converting the system to digital is a major effort now. The state needs to make an investment. We have a combination of c-band and ku-band systems and a combination of satellite and terrestrial systems. This is a very complex subject.

    3. Required conversion to digital tv standards. Mike informed the group that by the year 2003 all analog will be digital. We will go to four broadcast channels; divide one into data delivery configurations. We will really be looking at Internet. This is a very expensive subject; being mandated, about 20 million dollars.

    4. Media production. We are heavily involved in continuing our tradition as being a major production center. We have 50 people devoted to interactive media courseware. We are making significant strides in Nebraska to develop full courses over the Internet. This is another example of something we should take more time and look at. Distance education is evolving very rapidly.

    Dave Powers commented that Western and Midwestern delivered a GPN catalog. Are you at the point where you would like to list with them? Mike commented that GPN is a non-profit organization; not a course in and of itself.

    Alan Wibbels asked what the Help desk specifically focuses on.
    Mike commented that it has limited resources; we are looking at how we can reallocate; answer questions coming in about the process. Another thing we are doing is how to augment the help desk process in a substantial way through the web. There are new software technologies that allow for a better form of indexing and a better form of response to electronic processes.

    Jack commented that we need a linkage to the staff people that will be coming on board. The interaction with the NET staff will be very important.

    Don Ferneding, from Educational Service Unit #3. talked on the Proposed Statewide Electronic Backbone for Connecting K-12 Distance Learning Pods. He passed out a handout entitled "Nebraska Video Backbone". (Attached)

    He informed the group that we are trying to connect the different pods for a variety of reasons. One of these is file sharing. We are trying to get people that can do file sharing in a centrally located place. He informed the group that the backbone is in three phases; voice, video, and connecting data.

    We are trying to get building security into the systems. Delivering video on demand, on-line help features and distance learning classrooms. He indicated that they are not terribly interested in delivering to the homes; more classroom to classroom; district to district. We are interested in the Cisco certification process and dual credit courses with colleges.

    He commented that if you have an analog system at this time, it is fairly easy to convert to digital. We are doing this now. This is becoming less of a road block.

    We are working with voice traffic. This will reduce k-12 cost so we can continue to operate under budget restraints. We are working with connectivity to the State Department of Education. The schools have done a great job with Internet. It is now fully integrated in education and see it as being there and growing immensely.

    Desk top video across the state is used as a connection between the nursing department in the schools to some of the hospitals.

    Inservice training is used the most. Substitute pay is very expensive; schools are not willing to give out substitute pay. This could be done through this kind of a system; full motion two-way interactive backbone to connect to all these pods.

    We will be doing a needs study; surveying all the 19 ESUs and the Department of Education. We will use the LB 924 process to carry this backbone proposal in an effort to lower our costs and increase our use.

    Dean asked what prompted the application? Don remarked that we have general RFP for statewide backbone; we did write Form 470 for Universal Service Fund and did post an RFP on to the web page. Since then and, due to some situations, we have sent back to USF to delete the Form 470. We will go back and reactivate it; try and get in the next 75 day window. We will have some initial costs; primary and secondary. It is important to try and get USF funds if possible to reduce cost to schools and ESUs.

    Terry Miller, from ESU 3, asked how do you best share what is housed in our service units across the state? How do we bring in the most economical and efficient way. We have no intent to move outside the system. How do we provide the best communications across the state? We are willing to use some of our financial levy to put a backbone in the state. We are very concerned about the costs going to the districts. We have lost about 60% of our funding. How are you going to put technology training into place; how will this happen? We need to make sure costs are affordable to every district we serve. This is our second effort.

    Jack commented that we have some significant work to do in finding our scope; what does it mean to get there. There is some immediacy to that. We need to face the issues of scope and process in the immediate future

    Don commented that the statewide backbone is 100% digital. Jack commented that we have got to stop focusing on a dead issue.

    The next meeting was scheduled for May 14, 1998 from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. at 12th and O Street. We will go back to our agenda and finish what we didn't get done today. It was decided that Alan Wibbels, Jack Huck, Dave Powers, and Dean Bergman would either meet prior to the meeting or have a conference call meeting to prepare for the May 14th meeting.


Meeting Minutes