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August 13, 1998
Energy Square Board Room
1111 "O" Street, Suite 111
Lincoln, Nebraska

Members Present: Dr. Reba Benschoter (for Dr. Berndt), UNO Medical Center, Omaha; Dr. Robert Burns, Peru State College, Peru; Dr. Richard Gilliland, Metro Community College, Omaha; Dr. Jack Huck, Southeast Community College, Lincoln; Keith Bartels, Board Member, Lincoln; Susan Fees, Teacher, Christ the King School, Omaha; Terry Miller, Administrator, ESU 13, Scottsbluff; Alan Wibbels, Technology Director, ESU 10, Kearney; Woody Ziegler, Co-Principal, York Elementary School, York

Members Not Present: Dr. Uma Gupta, Creighton University, Omaha; Dennis Linster, Wayne State College, Wayne; Kent Hendrickson, Associate Vice Chancellor, UNL, Lincoln; Dr. John Muller, Bellevue University, Bellevue; Jeff Johnson, Teacher, Centennial Public School, Ulysses; Art Tanderup, Teacher, Tekamah-Herman Public School, Tekamah; Dr. Kristine Wolzen, Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington

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

Others Present: Mike Winkle, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Lincoln; Gwen Nugent, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Lincoln; Roger Bartlett, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, Lincoln; Roger Hahn, Nebraska Information Network, Lincoln; Kathy Tenipor, David Wagaman, State Fiscal Analysts, Lincoln

The sixth meeting of the Education Council of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission was called to order at approximately 9:10 a.m. The agenda was distributed, along with the minutes from the July 16th meeting. Jack asked for approval of these minutes. The motion was made by Keith Bartels to approve the minutes. This was seconded by Sue Fees. The minutes were approved. It was decided to discuss the dates for future meetings at the end of the meeting.

At this point in the meeting, Jack introduced our new council member , Woody Ziegler, to the rest of the members. Woody is co-principal for York Elementary School for the upper level grades. He informed the group that he works with technology and the special education programs. He said he is not really a "techy", just likes to use technology. Jack informed the group that Woody is taking the place of Jan Dodge who has remarried and left the state.

Mike Winkel then gave an update on the new staff for the NITC. He told the group that the first person to whom they offered the Education IT manager position declined as he accepted another position. The second wanted to accept with a leave of absence from his present position. The government position has been filled. Also, the Community IT manager and the administrative assistant positions have been filled. The office has been set up and we will soon be getting addresses, e-mail, etc. for them.

At this point in the meeting Dr. Reba Benschoter from the Uno Medical Center in Omaha joined the meeting for Dr. Bill Brendt.

We then proceeded to a review of the process for handling funding with Mike Winkle. He told the group that all of the documents have been updated as per the Council's request. The proposal is now very short (same as last time) and will be up on the web site tomorrow (August 14th). The signature line was changed to authorized signature instead of administrator. The documents will be distributed to a fairly wide group of people.

Dean informed the group that it is our intent to do a cover and information letter that is applicable to the K-12 sector. This will be signed by the Commissioner and will be sent to all public school superintendents and administrators at the ESU's. David remarked that the same thing will be going out for the post secondary section also. The information should be out within the next several days.

Alan asked if the cover letters would have some kind of a time frame included. Dean said, Yes. Jack asked what are the time frames? Dean commented that the K-12 sector would be in conformance with the time line for the budget development process. Proposals must be sent to us by September 15th for the first cycle; then to NITC by November 15th. This group needs to formulate their recommendations by October 15th. We will deal on a case by case basis. Dean informed the group that there is more than one cycle for K-12 people. This includes lottery grants, etc.

Dean asked if we wanted to get them to each member as they come in or wait until we get the whole package and bring them to the next meeting. Alan asked if there would be more information than the form. Mike stated that there would be the technology plans for the K-12 group. He stated that if we require more specific information this will be made on each individual case. We won't be shy in contacting them for more information.

Jack stated that we should go back to Dean's question. What kind of information do you want and when do you want it? Richard commented that we should go ahead and anticipate what we will receive and how many. We could split up into groups but we would need to be consistent in the groups. We could assign the materials as soon as they start arriving. Each group would receive four proposals. It might be helpful to review them before we meet. We might have to have another meeting of the full group to solidify the standards we are using.

Dean commented that he doesn't expect a large number from the K-12 sector (no more than 10 for the first round). David stated that the community colleges don't seem to be promoting any proposals; aside from the University Technology Plan and the Medical Center. There may be a total of six from post secondary.

How are we going to organize ourselves to do this? Do we divide into sub-groups or use the group as a whole? Richard stated that if we get that few, he would forget the idea of sub-groups. If we receive less than 20, we can do in the large group and process them through and come up with recommendations. Jack commented that we would have the proposals, assessment document, and the technical review. Richard stated that he would like to read them in advance. We ought to be able to work our way through and come up with recommendations. Mike commented that we could be dealing with 30-40 proposals with those from NEB*SAT.

Richard commented that Dean mentioned receiving maybe 10 statewide from K-12. He stated that If he were Woody, he would be sure and get a proposal in if I heard no one else was. Dean stated that what dictates the number we receive to a large degree is what makes it eligible to come through here. The School Technology Fund and state money are one shot things. The Core Services is also handled in a one shot deal. The only thing I can think of would be a proposal for the statewide backbone and the lottery funds. This is dictated by the real access they have to state appropriations. Our letter to them will explain all of this. Richard commented that we need to have the information real tight in the letter; make sure everything is well explained in the letter. Mike stated that is why we are sending out customized letters.

Keith commented that schools have a real hard time getting through to the Legislature. If there is a group of schools saying, we as a group, want to do something, may be more likely to fly. Alan stated that the schools are wanting us to put something together for distance learning. This will affect the infrastructure process. It was stated that we will know by the 15th how many we will be receiving.

At this point in the meeting, Mike talked about NEB*SAT's transition to the Ed. Council.

He first asked Gwen Nugent to talk about the training funds. She stated that NEB*SAT staff development grants need to be incorporated into this process. The issue is what do we put forward to the state. As all of these proposals go through, because of the changing technologies, how do we collaborate for cost efficiency and project efficiency.

Dean asked for the background of how NEB*SAT was started. Dr. Reba Benschoter informed the group that NEB*SAT was created by the Legislature. We deliver 30,000 hours of instruction per year. We have a real concern as we hear we are going to absorb this into something. To make the 30,000 hours of instruction happen, there has to be some sort of staff, coordination, and I think the NEB*SAT staff is living in limbo because they don't exactly know what is going to happen. We have representation from each educational unit in the state on the Coordinating Council. We have been meeting on a routine basis on scheduling issues, who gets what time, etc. There is a committee that worked on establishing operating procedures and policy, how to address satellite. The third area, budgeting, figuring out what next growth move or pattern ought to be. We worked on putting together the annual budget. We received Input from each sector, agreed upon it, and set it on to the Legislature. She stated that until it is replaced with something else, the medical center feels very strongly that what is there needs to be supported and continued. It will be very damaging to NEB*SAT operations if absorbed.

Jack commented that he doesn't pretend to be an expert to respond or know enough about the process. Gwen stated that she appreciated her comments. She stated that they continue to meet; still going on; still viable. We have a conference to run. She stated that the Advisory Council has not met. The minigrants were approved by mail.

Gwen then talked about the Training Advisory Group. She handed out copies of the "1996-97 Report of the NEB*SAT Training Advisory Committee". She told the group that the funds have been in existence for five years. $130,000 per year goes to Nebraska Education Telecommunications, NETCHE and the Department of Education. There is a Needs Assessment Training Needs in the State Resource Guide. We have a web site and conduct a yearly conference and an annual technical workshop. We receive a series of minigrants, approximately $110,000 per year. (10,000 grants from public schools, colleges, etc.)

Gwen stated that the RFP's are in Round Four. It is a very simple proposal. It contains the evaluation guidelines, goals, and activities. The RFP goes out once a year. The actual decision is made by the Training Advisory Committee. They meet and make recommendations on what should be approved. Once we make recommendations, they are approved by the NEB*SAT Council. Since they no longer exists, it is suggested that this group assume this responsibility. The recommendation is that they continue to function in that capacity and serve as an advisory group to this group; continue with NETCHE and the Department of Education. This is one part of the NEB*SAT structure. How does it fold into the NITC structure?

Dean stated that this is what I was trying to get at earlier; we need to know how this group is structured. It was created through appropriations language. Kathy Tenipor stated that in the Appropriations Bill, it is law until it goes away. She stated that Reba is referring to very logistical jobs that NEB*SAT Coordinating Council amd NET staff now has. Scheduling, very logistically jobs that sub-groups do. The membership is virtually the same. There are some very logistical concerns. We need something similar to this to continue to make these decisions or this group divide into groups to do it. It is not realistic for this group to take over these functions and get these logistical things done. By default it goes to NET. Education groups representing K-12 and higher education then would not participate in this. Appropriations gave money to NETC and the responsibility. The NEB*SAT Coordinating Council was formed as an advisory group. Dean stated that the concern has been brought up with the representation on the NEB*SAT Coordinating Council. It seems to be more skewed towards post secondary. When this group (Ed Council) was formed it was with an equal distribution of K-12 and higher education.

Reba stated we should rely very heavily on the structure that exists and make it all work. We have a concern, as do others, that the super structure of NEB*SAT, as it exists today, has to have a supporting system. Dean stated that there is nothing that would eliminate this. Mike commented that it would be a natural evolution. Dean stated that we then answer to the NITC.

Jack stated that the Commission is one that will address requests to the Legislature for additional funding (NETC). They will need the endorsement of NITC somewhere along the way. The NEB*SAT structure exists by law. It expires June 30, 1999. \

Keith stated that this group could recommend no appropriations to NETC. Gwen stated that the $130,000 for this year has already been dealt with. Kathy stated that someone certainly has to take over the functioning of the sub-groups (utilization, training, scheduling issues). I don't think we have any idea of eliminating the $130,000 for mini-grants. It would be logical for this group to come to some sort of a conclusion on this, provide that function. The main recommendation to come out of this group to the Governor and the Appropriations Committee is that this group take the place of the NEB*SAT Coordinating Council. We would also like to see recommendations from this group on who should handle the structure and operating procedure. It is very important for the Appropriations Committee to know that this has been taken care of.

Dave Wagaman stated there is a change in the budget request process for distance learning/technology. An actual request for funding information, a technology plan does not constitute the request. Request from the agency and NITC provides recommendations on what is wise to fund and not to fund. He stated this should be in the agency budget request. This process is set up based on LB924. The agencies have to make requests. The Ed Council and NITC provide recommendations on what should and should not be funded. They provide the priority. Kathy stated that NETC will submit their own requests. LB924 took NETC out of that process and made them an advisory group.

Dean asked if that excludes each of these councils from submitting proposals through NITC and us for $100,000 a year. Dave stated that the training funds requested by NITC, can be marked as a high priority by this group. NETC needs to request funding. Gwen stated that they would make a priority request, it would come here, you would sign off, and the final approval would come from the Commission as it always has. Jack asked then it would come back to this group before it goes to NITC. There is something kind of nonsensical about that. Mike stated that once you go through the big ticket items, like satellites, this group goes through and evaluates. We are not doing the work twice.

Reba stated we need a mechanism for putting together requests involving all segments that need to be involved so that what goes to the Legislature truly states the needs and the group presents a united front to the Legislature. How we are going to put together what this group approves is really the critical issue. NEB*SAT needs to have some foundation for funding to continue operations. Dean stated that this group wouldn't have to change the level of operations on the three councils . Reba stated that they are not really stand alone committees; sub-committees, everything done in those meetings went back to the Coordinating Council. Dean commented that the sub-committee could remain in place. For example, I would endorse what Gwen is saying about the Training Advisory Council. The same thing would be true of other councils.

Roger Hahn asked aren't they all members of the NEB*SAT Coordinating Council. Jack stated that these do not have to be mutually inclusive. Some of the people that populate these three councils are in this group. We can continue to do this. Gwen stated that the Training Advisory group is pretty much represented by training type of people. Keith stated that we could appoint them. Dean stated that we need to insure a balance between higher education and K-12.

Jack commented that what we are doing here today is adding to the role and mission of the Education Council of the NITC; that is to take place of the old NEB*SAT Council. Robert Burns stated that something needs to be done; the budget processes are racing along. Can our group simply declare we are going to take on this new role? Does it have to go to NITC? How do we say we accept this? Jack stated that it sounds like it has been thrust upon us.

Dave stated that we need a recommendation for NETC to invite us to take over. It was stated that Rod Bates was made chairman of the NEB*SAT Council. Maybe someone from this group needs to contact Bates and ask if makes sense to him that we take over the oversight of these three training and utilization councils. Mike stated that he would like to have a discussion with NETC stating this is our understanding that, If retained NEB*SAT Coordinating Council with what it has been doing, another group forming priorities, etc., and then coming in here and having a second debate about it. I would concur. Dave stated that if NITC does it instead of Rod Bates, it would be memorialized in minutes that this was done. We would transfer the duties to the NITC Council. We need some sort of action. Keith asked who actually is NITC? David Powers answered that it consists of eight commissioners. Keith asked if they would submit their proposals to NITC? Yes.

Alan asked when does this group legally disappear? The answer is June 30, 1999. Dave stated that we need to formally appoint some chair person to chair each of these meetings and report back to us. The comment was made that a staff person from NETV attended the meetings and reported back. Reba responded that was correct. Gwen stated that there was a chair within the group.

Jack commented that it would be appropriate for us to consider accepting the mantel of the NEB*SAT Coordinating Council with the understanding that the sub-committees remain the same; someone from this group that chairs each of these committees. Mike and staff will have to bring us additional information. Mike stated that if you are going to do that he would like some people from this council to work on this also. Woody stated that he does not want to see the training piece go away. He asked if the RFP's are out? Yes, for this year.

Jack asked for volunteers to work with Mike on coming back with a formal recommendation that we are willing to take over NEB*SAT and chair committees. Reba Benschoter, Woody Ziegler, Gwen Nugent and Max Thacker volunteered for this assignment. Reba asked if Carol Krause could be added to the group. Dean Bergman was also added to the group. Keith made a motion that this group of people work on the formal recommendation concerning NEB*SAT. Motion seconded by Robert Burns. Motion passed.

Gwen then passed out a brochure on their Distance Learning Conference scheduled for September 28-29, 1998. The brochure on the conference will not be done until Monday. This marks the first year of collaborative sponsorship by NEB*SAT and Nebraska Network 21 Distance Education/Outreach Action Team. There will be three hour workshops on Monday morning for "hands-on" involvement by participants.

The keynote speaker is Michael Dolence. He will speak on learner-centered instruction and communities of learning on Tuesday, the 29th. Gwen also mentioned that NETCHE has been working with NN21 on an on-line catalog of distance learning courses. The catalog lists courses and degree programs from all higher education institutions in Nebraska. You can search by subject, by degree program, by course, by region, by key word in our description, and advanced search. The prototype will be up and running by the conference time. We will do testing in the spring and will be up and running for real next fall.

Roger Bartlett stated that it has been all digital now for a couple of years in Nebraska. We have been innovative in our use of our systems. There are 48 channels available for distance education. This ties to the University, State Office Building, and between here and Omaha. It is busy all days of the year, with the exception of Sunday. This went from carrying from 54 hours a month of courses to 5,000 hours a month today. All channels have grown; there is a lot of activities happening in our building. The planning of NEB*SAT has been to try to find a way to operate a system that can function for education purposes. We brought together a lot of people and things that are working very well. I am a tool man; how will you use them? Is what we are doing giving someone a valuable tool?

At this point in the meeting, Mike passed out three different reports. They are the "NEB*SAT Capital Equipment Budget Request, FY 1998/1999 and FY 2000/2001" and the "NET Engineering Staff & Personnel Services Requests, Fiscal 2000/2001". Mike stated that the projects in the 1998/1999 NEB*SAT Capital Equipment Budget Report are specific projects that have been funded. The Niobrara Valley Pod, a distance education consortium, is three years old. There are better ways of doing it that make more sense. We can uplink at Norfolk; make it a mult- channel uplink. Norfolk can do one uplink now and when done will be able to do two. Mike stated that we are adding an additional channel to uplink in Norfolk. The funding is for one year on the circuit. Who picks up funding after that? Roger stated that was yet to be determined. He stated that based on experience in the last year, we could split between the University and the consortium. This is working out west; may not work here but it is the kind of process we are in. Sutherland is in support of this.

Mike commented that there are a limited number of satellite channels; and they are very expensive. The timing is a little touchy. Are the institutions that will be affected been made aware of this? Roger stated that they have. Mike asked what kind of state request is being made for ongoing costs. Jack stated that the Broken Bow uplink is installed. This provides free service to the Broken Bow pod. The equivalent pod in Niobrara going to be asked to pick up the tab of $12,000 a year. I would go with the free uplink. Alan stated the decision in an isolated area may affect a lot of places.

Keith stated that it makes sense technologically to go this way. It would be cheaper in ten years to go this way but we need it today; cheaper to go this way today. The difference in expense is one thing we ought to be investing in. Jack stated this is the cheaper way to do this but whose dollars are paying. Keith said this is the reason why this Commission exists; to figure out those kinds of things and how to get it done. Roger stated that it serves four pods in Norfolk. We are trying to make as much capacity available to a broad group of people. Broken Bow uses a lot. It allows access they can't get any other way. We want to give you more capacity, not less. The second year someone has to come up with the money.

Terry asked when will technical review get something like this. Will that committee take a look at what the function is to be and say here are some options? Mike stated that the commentary you will see on the Assessment document and Technical Review would raise these type of questions. Why is this a better technical solution? Terry stated that we answer these questions everyday. They are not going to care who provides the service but expect quality, reasonable cost and equity. If we can't answer to this, they won't be interested. We need to choose what is best for them; a technical review committee to say here is what we recommend. Jack asked If there is going to be a purchase of those services, what about the thrust of getting the best value. Multi-channel, (handout) we are adding money together from last year to this year. This enhances your network.

On the North Platte Project it was stated that it is not a real wise use of technology. We are meeting with them to discuss other ideas. With the Ithaca Uplink they should maybe look at another option, like fiber. The Tri Valley Pod Uplink 1999 is the same as Niobrara.

In the NEB*SAT Capital Equipment Budget Request, Fiscal 2000/2001, we are replacing hardware that is now approaching ten years old. (Network 3 system Upgrade) Up to date modern hardware. Jack asked if we would see this in the form of a proposal coming forward. Mike stated, Yes. Each one will go through the formal review process.

Dean asked does what we have here truly express the needs of the users. Roger stated that the statewide infrastructure is very important. As new groups come on, we have to find a way to get to them. We want something that expands. Dean asked if there is a master plan to develop a statewide publicly funded network. Mike said there is no such operation going on.

Roger stated the master plan would be a satellite system. Can we manage this? The technical piece is the easy thing, getting the programming is hard. We can give you some tool to play with and get some distribution.

Dean asked are we here to pass judgment on specific infrastructure requests when that is the role of NITC. Richard commented that we still have to do it. We can change, update it but we have to have a sense of direction. All we do is pick off projects and approve. There is no sense of direction. Mike stated that he is in agreement with that; it is a continual process. These documents are the thinking that came out of these groups. We are doing it in terms of public television, public radio. Reba stated that they have always had a strategic plan which was updated every year and sent along with the budget request. We have always worked on the basis of that plan.

Dean asked what role should we be playing in passing on recommendations relative to specific infrastructure requests? How are we to prejudge that? Roger commented that NITC should appoint subcommittees. Mike commented they could help in shaping what the master plan is. Alan stated we could find out who else in our region is doing the same thing. Jack responded that it strikes him as there is a theme throughout that assumes that NET is going to be the guru of distance learning in the state of Nebraska. That is not my sense of where it necessarily will go. Does it have to go there? Mike stated that this is correct. We have to put budget proposals together and know where we are going. There will be 200 additional video classrooms coming on board in the fall. We have been responding to technical support issues across the state but have never been given state dollars to provide this. We tried to address some of it. We helped with installations and up grade. That is the type of issue I wanted to make you aware of. What type of appropriations requests? The Personnel section is seventeen additional to provide field service across the state. Alan stated he gets calls for Distance Learning. Are each of the pods hiring additional technical people? Are we, by advocation, giving all responsibility to NET?

Roger stated that we need to train the K-12 classes to a certain level. Mike commented that we have got to define functionality. The end user is left feeling no one is providing the customer service. Alan commented that we need to expand the Technical Review Panel representation on an ongoing basis. We should add an ESU representative.

Alan remarked that this council is equally represented by both K-12 and post secondary. We don't have a K-12 on-going picture of what's happening on the Technical Review Panel. If we do away with those funds at the service level, we have to find some place to go. Dave Powers commented that it is going to be an interactive growth area. We need to come up with a whole different set of assumptions of what hardware you need. What are we trying to accomplish and how do we get there? What needs are we trying to serve?

Dean stated that the E-rate is out there. Is there a need to fund this proposal if that is there? From the K-12 perspective, I'm getting the impression that you are trying to create a state financed backbone for communication. Isn't that contrary to the basic concept of the NITC?. We don't want to duplicate what's happening in Iowa. Is there a master plan and, if so, is it leading towards some kind of a statewide network backbone? Mike stated that these do not express any intent; this is planning that happened on different levels. It is a continuation of whatever types of planning. It is a real good snapshot of where we are in time. It is a full collection of all items brought to NET to address distance learning perspectives. We've got to figure out this effeciences within the state.

Richard stated that this is a very important conversation and we need to prepare for it and have it on the agenda for the next meeting. Alan stated that he agreed with this. He stated that our next meeting is scheduled for September 16th at the Metro Community College campus. Do we need to have a meeting in between? Jack stated not to expect Mike and staff to have all these pieces to us; not for reviewing proposals. There will be an open agenda for this meeting. Richard stated that the deadline will be past. We can organize on the 16th specifically on what we need to do to get them going. Dean commented that we can devote more time to this topic.

Alan stated the meeting will be September 16th at the Elkhorn Valley Campus. Richard will let us know the specifics. We will add the sharing of courses on the September 16th agenda. Meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.

Meeting Minutes