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Arizona State University Journalism Dean Says Students Can Still ‘Report From Home’ During Coronavirus

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March 24, 2020 – In another “Social Distance Social” held over Zoom on Tuesday, Future Tense Editor Torie Bosch interviewed Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Chris Callahan, who said students are encouraged to “report from home” as they adapt to this pandemic-ridden environment.

When the first two universities announced they would do virtual classes over two weeks ago, that got the ball rolling for our university, said Callahan.

The faculty spent 96 hours working to quickly move to an online platform in light of the spreading coronavirus.

The majority of the professors adapted quickly, and those who struggled could get help swiftly because it is easy to monitor classes being held online in real-time, said Callahan. Deans checked in on the online courses with permission to see if any professors needed additional help from IT.

Bosch asked how students are handling the change.

“This is hard for everybody,” especially the social aspect for the students, said Callahan. However, parents also showed great concern over the drastic, rapid changes in response to the pandemic.

Through constant contact and extensive communication, Callahan reached out to parents and students to help ease anxieties and concerns.

Callahan even started using Zoom for the parents to ask questions, and over a hundred parents tuned into the meeting.

Arizona State University is allowing students to stay on campus. Students were encouraged to go home if possible, but if not, the school would remain open to accommodate them.

The journalism school is deeply engaged with reporting, and the pandemic has changed the circumstances.

“We had to make some very early decisions,” but the safety of our students is the priority, said Callahan. The equipment rooms with cameras for the students to use were closed, and faculty encouraged students to stay home instead of venturing out into “the field” to conduct reporting.

These restrictions have really prompted the students to become more creative with storytelling and reporting, said Callahan.

Are there drawbacks to remote, online learning, asked Bosch.

Callahan said it depends on students’ preferred learning style, but there are not as many differences as people might expect.

“Our students who have been through this will be better positioned” and be able to transfer the skills learned during this uncertain time to a future job, said Callahan in response to an audience member’s concern that students are being encouraged to enter an economically unstable field at this time.

One of the faculty members created The Cronkite Café that hosts extracurricular activities for students to participate in online to foster connection during an isolating period.

Adrienne Patton was a Reporter for Broadband Breakfast. She studied English rhetoric and writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She grew up in a household of journalists in South Florida. Her father, the late Robes Patton, was a sports writer for the Sun-Sentinel who covered the Miami Heat, and is for whom the press lounge in the American Airlines Arena is named.

Education

Fiber Industry Can Build Interest in Broadband Workforce By Catering to Student Interests: Experts

The BEAD program allows providers to use funds to deploy workforce development strategies.

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Photo of Amelia De Jesus of Wireless Infrastructure Association, Lesley Liarikos of Tower Systems, Brian O'Hara of NRECA, Joshua Seidemann of NTCA, Craig Thomas of the Broadband Forum, and Mark Boxer of OFS (left to right) and

ORLANDO, August 22, 2023 – The fiber industry can stimulate interest in the broadband workforce by engaging with college students on platforms they frequent, such as online gaming, said panelists at the Fiber Connect conference Tuesday. 

Amelia De Jesus, vice president of workforce solutions at the Wireless Infrastructure Association, suggested that providers leverage the rising generation’s interest in virtual gaming and augmented reality to encourage them to engage in a career that they care about, namely the infrastructure that enables the applications that they use. She suggested that VR can be used to train new employees, and conduct drone inspections of broadband lines.  

Fiber skillsets open a variety of other career opportunities for people entering the workforce, said Brian O’Hara, senior director of regulatory affairs at electric cooperative trade association NRECA. He said that providers can capitalize on this benefit to enhance their workforce efforts.  

Once employees are trained and practiced in fiber technology and deployment, these skills can be used in many ways, O’Hara said, claiming that this will encourage young adults to be more engaged in learning these skills. He pointed to support for telehealth platforms, precision agriculture systems, schools, and hospitals, among other careers.  

O’Hara recommended that providers educate the rising generation on the benefits of internet connection to provide them with a mission and purpose that can drive their career. He added that younger generations are environmentally conscious, which can be leveraged by providers by educating the next generation of workers on how broadband can reduce emissions, facilitate faster deployment of renewable energy, and provide a more efficient electricity grid.  

The key point is that the industry encourages excitement in college students and help them develop core skillsets that can be taken anywhere they want, concluded O’Hara.  

“States are depending on providers and operators to build out these networks,” added De Jesus, referring to the $42.5 billion set to be available to states for broadband builds in 2024 through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. For the first time in the history of the internet, providers have the money available to find and train employees to expand the workforce, she said. The BEAD program allows providers to use funds to deploy workforce development strategies. 

There is no nationally trusted technician certification, especially for the more than 1,200 smaller fiber providers in the country, said Mark Boxer, technical manager for OFS, a fiber optic designer, manufacturer and provider. He warned that newer workforce knowledge is inconsistent and that industry memory of procedure is fading as previously deeper trained generations move on. 

Experts have raised workforce shortages as a looming concern for coming BEAD-funded projects. Many have suggested various mechanisms to address the shortage, including hiring ex-convicts, developing apprenticeship programs, and engaging students at an earlier age.

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Students Should Limit Screen Time, Panel Hears

Experts suggest a combination of active activities and group projects.

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Screenshot of Eileen Belastock

WASHINGTON, August 17, 2023 – Students in K-12 and higher education should have a limited amount of screen time while enrolled in online courses, said digital education experts at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event Wednesday. 

Eileen Belastock, CEO of online education consulting firm Belastock Consulting, said that students do not learn well when they are looking at a screen. Children need more time off screen with tech free options to work on school projects, she said.  

“Screen time is not good for students,” she said. “It lends itself to bullying, inappropriate conduct. I also think students don’t learn well when they’re looking at a screen. I think they need more personalized, off screen, tech-free projects to work on.” 

Belastock suggested that educators have students conduct online research and engage in real life projects that will switch up their day and help them accomplish something new. 

Jason Amos, director of communications at the National School Boards Association, added that educators can add variety into classrooms by assigning passive, active, individual, and group activities. “Sitting on a laptop for hours and hours and hours or sitting in a lecture for that long is not a great way for kids to learn,” he said. He said active group participation remotely can help engage students and provide “tremendous opportunity” for a greater educational impact on the students. 

Amos added that it is a concern for how much time children are spending online and not interacting with their peers, especially because students are inclined to relax by playing video games or watching television. 

While Charles Severance, clinical professor of information at University of Michigan School of Information, agreed, he added that technology can be more versatile for students enrolled in online courses. Educating technology can be with students while they are outside or on a walk, he said. He urged for educators to find new systems that cater to student’s needs. 

Severance added that the biggest mistake in the country-wide push to move all classes in person is that it overlooks that some classes may be preferable online. Some classes do not need close interaction for students to be engaged in learning while others do, he said.  

Experts said in March that digital learning is here to stay following the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that it “opened a door that can’t be closed again” in terms of technology’s role in education. 

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023 – Remote Education and Online Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down, but it also ushered in a transformative era of education, wherein online learning has emerged as a powerful alternative avenue for academic development. The remarkable progress in virtual reality, metaverse, and artificial intelligence has been steadily dismantling traditional barriers to remote education, such as accessibility, efficiency, and engagement. Where does online learning go from here? How does technology factor into this field? Are there any pitfalls students, educators, and parents should be cautious of, particularly concerning online risks for children?

Panelists

  • Jason Amos, Director of Communications, National School Boards Association
  • Eileen Belastock, CEO of Belastock Consulting
  • Dr. Charles Severance, Clinical Professor of Information, University of Michigan School of Information
  • Erik Langner, CEO, Information Equity Initiative
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Jason Amos has more than two decades of experience in education policy and communications, including several years as a congressional staffer. Currently, he is the Director of Communications for the National School Boards Association, a non-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and member school districts. NSBA’s purpose is to ensure that each student everywhere has access to excellent and equitable public education governed by high-performing school board leaders and supported by the community.

Eileen Belastock is the CEO of Belastock Consulting and an EdTech Leadership Specialist with the Mass. Office of EdTech. As a former K12 CTO, she has championed safety and security, encouraged student agency, and supported students with equitable access to their education. She is also a published writer, a national keynote presenter, and the 2020 top 100 Ed-Tech Influencer and 2022 Edtech Digest Leadership Award finalist.

Erik Langner is the CEO of Information Equity Initiative (IEI), an international nonprofit organization committed to ensuring everyone, regardless of geography or income, has access to high-quality, digital learning resources. IEI partners with government agencies, broadcasters, content producers, and funders to provide curated digital content to homes and facilities that lack broadband via a technology called “Datacasting.” Langner has worked in public broadcasting for two decades and was previously a corporate attorney in New York City and San Francisco, and worked at the United Nations in Geneva. Langner received his law degree from Northwestern University and his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Charles Severance is a Clinical Professor and teaches in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He teaches over popular Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) including Python for Everybody – the most popular online programming course in the world on the CourseraedX, and FutureLearn platforms. He is also a long-time advocate of open source educational technology and open educational resources to empower teachers. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and the Chief Architect of the Sakai Project. Dr. Severance has written several books including “Using the Google App Engine”, “Python for Informatics”, “High Performance Computing”, and “Sakai: Free as in Freedom.”

Drew Clark is CEO of Breakfast Media LLC. He has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Education

Anchor Associations Asking for Deadline Extension on Emergency Connectivity Fund Deployment

Associations say delays in getting fund approval and services/equipment means not getting full use of the program.

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Photo of SHLB Executive Director John Windhausen Jr.

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2023 – A duo of anchor institution associations has requested Wednesday that the Federal Communications Commission extend the deadlines to implement funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, in part citing delays in getting and deploying equipment and services.

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition and the Consortium for School Networking have asked for a year extension to June 30, 2024 for the first two funding rounds if the applicant received a decision on or after March 1, 2022, and a six-month extension to the aforementioned date for the third and latest round to implement money from the program intended to keep students connected to the internet when away from school. Their request asks to waive a section of the program rules that have set those current dates in stone.

According to the waiver request filed Wednesday, funding recipients have either received a decision letter “with a narrow amount of time” to use the funding prior to the current delivery dates or have yet to receive their application approval.

“Certain factors, such as the amount of time between when an applicant received its [decision or revised decision letter] and the service delivery date, combined with the time necessary for a recipient to order, receive, and distribute equipment and services once they are procured, could inhibit an ECF recipient from fully using their requested funding prior to the service delivery dates,” the waiver request said.

The duo added that “many applicants” wait to enter contracts for the equipment and services until they get funding approval. Those that put the cart before the horse may find themselves having to renegotiate certain terms, for example in the case where services or equipment prices increased by the time they get the funding notice, the request said, adding the anchor institutions have been up against “any remaining manufacturing and global supply chain issues” from the pandemic that are contributing to delays.

The organizations gave several examples of problems faced by the anchor institutions where they would not be able to provide the 12 months of services provided by the program, including size and availability increases of buses in Georgia adding additional deployment time and a California education office that had to coordinate with multiple programs that delayed deployment.

“In these cases, even an applicant that received its [funding letters] exactly twelve months prior to the current applicable service delivery date would not be able to provide a full twelve months of ECF-supported service,” the request said.

The waiver request said if the commission does not extend the delivery dates, applicants won’t be able to use all their award funding, which will mean the regulator will have spent less than the full amount appropriated by Congress.

“It would be a far better policy outcome for the Commission to extend the deadline and allow applicants to utilize the full amount of their awarded funding rather than opening a fourth application window to award the remaining dollars,” the duo said.

The FCC has allocated just over $6.6 billion of the $7.1 billion from the ECF program, as it has been making periodic funding decisions over the months.

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