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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

Coalition Says FCC E-rate Portal Proposal Could Create More Problems

Industry officials say the commission’s approach to E-rate competition would burden applicants.

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John Windhausen Jr., executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition

WASHINGTON, December 21, 2021 – The executive director of a broadband coalition for anchor institutions said the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to force providers to bid for school and library services through a new portal will burden those applicants.

The agency proposed Thursday to force service providers to submit applications through a bidding portal overseen by the Universal Service Administrative Company, which administers the E-rate program that provides broadband subsidies to schools and libraries. The current approach is that libraries and schools announce they are seeking services and service providers would apply directly to those institutions.

By giving USAC the ability to see service provider applications before they go to the institutions, the agency said this would eliminate at least some forms of abuse or fraud, including participants who may misrepresent their certification or circumvent competitive-bidding rules.

But John Windhausen, executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, said that while he applauds the effort to listen to consumer needs, the portal’s one-size-fits-all approach would ultimately burden E-rate applicants and service providers.

He also claimed that there is not enough evidence to show that a new portal is needed and that it “would add a lot more federal bureaucracy on a program that is running pretty well right now.

“You would have federal employees at USAC trying to make determinations about what’s…in the best interests of the schools or libraries,” said Windhausen, “And we don’t think they’re really qualified to do that.”

Windhausen also sees potential conflict between the new bidding portal and some state laws already governing E-rate bidding. In a scenario in which state law and FCC policy conflict, it is not clear which policy would take precedence.

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Education

FCC Commits Another $603 Million in Emergency Connectivity Fund Money

The agency has now committed $3.8 billion from the $7.17-billion program.

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FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, December 20, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s latest round of Emergency Connectivity Fund money will disburse $603 million to connect over 1.4 million students in all 50 states, the agency said Monday.

The FCC said it has now committed $3.8 billion of the $7.17-billion program, which provides funding for schools and libraries to buy laptops, tablets, WiFi hotspots, modems, routers and connectivity to help students stay connected off school premises. The money comes as a new Covid-19 variant sweeps the nation again, putting face-to-face interactions at risk once again.

The agency also said Monday that it has allocated an additional $367 million in its first commitment and nearly $236 million in the second commitment.

The agency in October said that previous rounds had committed $2.63 billion from the fund since its launch in June.

The total amount committed to go to support 9,000 schools, 760 libraries, and 100 consortia for nearly 8.3 million connected devices and over 4.4 million broadband connections, the agency said in a Monday release.

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Education

Texas High School Students Enter the Fight for Better Connectivity

Students in a Houston-area school district hosted a panel on connecting schools and libraries as part of a national event on bridging the digital divide.

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John Windhausen Jr., founder and executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2021 – Generation Z students are making their mark at a Houston-area school district by adding broadband access to the list of issues they are actively working on.

The high school students in the Fort Bend Independent School District organized a panel conversation on internet access in education as part of Connected Nation’s national event titled “20 Years of Connecting the Nation,” and were able to host some high-profile guests in the world of telecommunications.

The November 17 panel included John Windhausen Jr., founder and executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, Chris Martinez, division director of information technology for the Harris County Public Library, Heather Gate, vice president of digital inclusion for Connected Nation, and Meredith Watassek, director of career and technical education for Fort Bend ISD.

Nine percent of residents in Harris County, where Houston is located, reports that they do not have a connected device at home and 18 percent say they do not have access to an internet connection. These gaps in access are the focus of the panelists’ digital equity efforts.

With Windhausen and Martinez present on the panel, a key point of discussion was the importance of helping libraries to act as anchor institutions – institutions which help enable universal broadband access.

Watassek pointed out that she has been helping oversee distance learning in Fort Bend ISD for six years, starting such a program to enable teachers to teach students in several of the district’s buildings without having to drive to each one, and has seen that with time and learned experience it is possible to work through distance learning logistical issues that school districts around the nation are currently facing.

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