Higher Education Opportunity Act, Pam Quinn Joins AACC Board, Broadband/Rural Access, Handbook, Ed Statistics

US Department of Education – Higher Education Opportunity Act – 2008
Status of Negotiated Rulemaking

The 13 members of the panel the U.S. Department of Education created to discuss accreditation issues (Team III) as part of its Negotiated Rulemaking for the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) met in Washington on March 4-6, 2009.  Members include Linda Michalowski, vice chancellor for student services and special programs for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (with alternate Jim Hermes from the American Association of Community Colleges) will represent two year public institutions. Michael Offerman, CEO of Capella University, (with alternate Muriel Oaks, dean of distance and professional education at Washington State University) will represent distance and non-traditional education, and Terry Hartle from the American Council on Education (with his co-worker Becky Timmons as the alternate), among others.  See the full list is at http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2009/accred-protocols.pdf .

I met with Jim Hermes from AACC yesterday who said that the panel only touched on the issue of distance learning authentication at their March meeting, but will spend more time on it during their upcoming meetings on April 21-23 and May 18-20, 2009. The position AACC and ITC (and presumably other representatives from the higher education community) will take is to follow the advice of the clarifying language which is attached to the HEOA.

“The Conferees expect institutions that offer distance education to have security mechanisms in place, such as identification numbers or other pass code information required to be used each time the student participates in class time or coursework on-line. As new identification technologies are developed and become more sophisticated, less expensive and more mainstream, the Conferees anticipate that accrediting agencies or associations and institutions will consider their use in the future. The Conferees do not intend that institutions use or rely on any technology that interferes with the privacy of the student and expect that students’ privacy will be protected with whichever method the institutions choose to utilize.”

WCET has outlined a similar position on its Web site at http://wcet.informz.net/wcet/archives/archive_267322.html

Pam Quinn Elected to AACC Board of Directors

Congratulations are in order to Pam Quinn, president of the Dallas County Community College District’s R. Jan LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, and thank you to everyone who asked their president to vote for her.  Pam will serve as ITC’s representative on AACC’s board of directors for a three-year term – from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012.

As I mentioned in the e-mail I sent back in February before the election, “At a time when advocacy for distance learning and community colleges is so critical – as a tool that could help solve so many of our nation’s problems – it is important to have someone on the AACC board of directors who understands distance learning and education technology and can advocate its use among other community college presidents who may not be as familiar with its applications.  In addition to the general support of distance learning, there are several legislative actions, such as the recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the lack of support for online learning in the passage of the GI Bill that would benefit from a consistent distance learning advocate.”  Congratulations and thank you!

The Stimulus Package: Broadband and Technology Opportunities
Thursday, March 26, 2009 – 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern)

For free registration contact Akua Hall at ahall@dowlohnes.com or 202.776.2919

Dow Lohnes and Dow Lohnes Government Strategies will offer a free Webinar on opportunities for broadband and technology funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  They will discuss “funding opportunities at the NTIA and Rural Utilities Service;  requirements for obtaining funding, including eligibility and use of funds;  and the timing and logistics of obtaining funding.”  Presenters will include J.G. Harrington and Meg Miller of Dow Lohnes, Ken Salomon of Dow Lohnes Government Strategies, and David Murray, former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

As I mentioned in the e-mail I sent yesterday, the Department of Commerce and the Rural Utility Service will continue to receive comments from the public on how they should craft their guidelines for receiving grant applications and distributing the funding through April 13, 2009, but this Webinar from Dow, Lohnes and Albertson should help colleges become aware of how they can respond and benefit.

Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning
by George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger, University of Manitoba
March, 2009

This Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning (HETL) has been designed as a resource for educators planning to incorporate technologies in their teaching and learning activities.  How is education to fulfill its societal role of clarifying confusion when tools of control over information creation and dissemination rest in the hands of learners[3], contributing to the growing complexity and confusion of information abundance?

The handbook examines –

Change Pressures and Trends – Global, political, social, technological, and educational change pressures are disrupting the traditional role (and possibly design) of universities. Higher education faces a “re-balancing” in response to growing points of tension along the following fault lines…

What we know about learning – Over the last century, educator’s understanding of the process and act of learning has advanced considerably.

Technology, Teaching, and Learning – Technology is concerned with “designing aids and tools to perfect the mind”. As a means of extending the sometimes limited reach of humanity, technology has been prominent in communication and learning. Technology has also played a role in classrooms through the use of movies, recorded video lectures, and overhead projectors. Emerging technology use is growing in communication and in creating, sharing, and interacting around content.

Media and technology – A transition from epistemology (knowledge) to ontology (being) suggests media and technology need to be employed to serve in the development of learners capable of participating in complex environments.

Change cycles and future patterns – It is not uncommon for theorists and thinkers to declare some variation of the theme “change is the only constant”. Surprisingly, in an era where change is prominent, change itself has not been developed as a field of study. Why do systems change? Why do entire societies move from one governing philosophy to another? How does change occur within universities?

New Learners? New Educators? New Skills? – New literacies (based on abundance of information and the significant changes brought about technology) are needed. Rather than conceiving literacy as a singular concept, a multi-literacy view is warranted.

Tools – Each tool possesses multiple affordances. Blogs, for example, can be used for personal reflection and interaction. Wikis are well suited for collaborative work and brainstorming. Social networks tools are effective for the formation of learning and social networks. Matching affordances of a particular tool with learning activities is an important design and teaching activity

Research – Evaluating the effectiveness of technology use in teaching and learning brings to mind Albert Einstein’s statement: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. When we begin to consider the impact and effectiveness of technology in the teaching and learning process, obvious questions arise: “How do we measure effectiveness? Is it time spent in a classroom? Is it a function of test scores? Is it about learning? Or understanding?”

Conclusion – Through a process of active experimentation, the academy’s role in society will emerge as a prominent sensemaking and knowledge expansion institution, reflecting of the needs of learners and society while maintaining its role as a transformative agent in pursuit of humanity’s highest ideals.

Digest of Education Statistics, 2008
National Center for Education Statistics
March 18, 2009

The 44th in a series of publications initiated in 1962, the Digest’s primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons.

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Higher Education Opportunity Act, Pam Quinn Joins AACC Board, Broadband/Rural Access, Handbook, Ed Statistics

Online Enrollment, Plagiarism Tools, Laptops, Writing, Taxing Software, Corporate Web 2.0, Online Effectiveness?, Kindle, Games

Community College Surge
by Scott Jaschik|
March 18, 2009, Inside Higher Ed

. . . “Online education is an area where community colleges appear to be responding quickly to student demand, Green said, but not necessarily with complete programs. The survey found that more than 71 percent of community colleges are reporting increases in online enrollments of 5 percent or greater. But there is a gap between enrollment in individual courses vs. in online degree or certificate programs.”

“The survey found that 40 percent of community colleges were reporting online course enrollment increases of 5-10 percent, and 31 percent were reporting gains of greater than 10 percent. But when asked about increases in online degree programs, only 20 percent reported increases in the 5-10 percent range and 10 percent in the greater than 10 percent range. The numbers reflect the fact that it is much easier for a college to add a course online than an entire program, Green noted.”

“Further, the presidents’ answers to other questions suggest an evolution in thinking about online education. Asked why they were adding online programs, 89 percent of presidents said that they were aiming to meet student demand. Only 39 percent reported hoping that online offerings would help reduce the cost of education. Green said that the presidents clearly have learned that online education — done right — is not inexpensive.  ‘It’s not easy money,’ he said.”

See the survey results at http://www.campuscomputing.net/sites/www.campuscomputing.net/files/Green-CommunityCollegesPresSurvey-17Mar09.pdf

False Positives on Plagiarism
by Scott Jaschik
March 13, 2009, Insider Higher Ed

“Generally, the study [by Texas Tech University] found that Turnitin was much more likely than competitor SafeAssign (which is part of Blackboard) to identify material as being potentially not original. But that finding shouldn’t necessarily cheer Turnitin. The researchers reported that many of the instances of “non-originality” that Turnitin finds aren’t plagiarism, but are just the use of jargon, course terms or the sort of lack of originality one might expect in a freshman paper. In other cases, the study found that Turnitin didn’t necessarily identify the correct source of plagiarized materials.” . . .

“Some of the issues raised by the study:”

“Consistency: By several measures, the study found Turnitin flagging more papers for review than Safe Assign. For example, of the 400 papers reviewed, Turnitin found that 46 had 26-50 percent unoriginal material, compared to 18 identified by SafeAssign. Turnitin flagged 152 papers as having between 11 and 25 percent unoriginal material, while SafeAssign found only 55 papers in this category. This means, the researchers said, that students engaged in the same kind of work (or questionable work) might get treated in different ways at different colleges, suggesting a lack of consensus about academic misconduct.”

“False positives: Many of the phrases or sentences flagged by both services — but especially the greater number identified by Turnitin — weren’t plagiarism, but were cases in which certain phrases appeared for legitimate reasons in many student papers. For example, the researchers found high percentages of flagged material in the topic terms of papers (for example “global warming”) or “topic phrases,” which they defined as the paper topic with a few words added (for example “the prevalence of childhood obesity continues to rise”).” . . .

Is the Laptop Love-In Over?
by David Moltz
March 12, 2009, Inside Higher Ed

“More than a decade ago, the trend of colleges buying laptops for their students or partially subsidizing the cost was all the rage. Now, with the economy in shambles and students bringing more of their own technology to campus, some institutions are reevaluating their laptop programs.” . . .

The Information Super-Library
by David Moltz
March 11, 2009, Inside Higher Ed

“Next fall, Monterey Peninsula College in California will launch its Great Books Program. By completing an introductory course and any four related courses, students can earn a certificate recognizing them as a “Great Books Scholar.” While many community colleges teach classic works of literature, full programs and online programs in the field are uncommon.” . . .

Writing in the 21st Century
by Kathleen Blake Yancey
February 2009, National Council of Teachers of English

“Good writing may be the quintessential 21st century skill.  Just as the nature of and expectation for literacy has changed in the past century and a half, so has the nature of writing. Today people write as never before – texting, on blogs, with video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even with traditional pen and paper.  People write at home, at work, inside and out of school.” . . .

Threat to Online Learning — From New York’s Tax Department?
by Jack Stripling
Feb. 23, 2009, Inside Higher Ed

“In a move that could prove a harbinger of things to come, a New York agency now contends that a distance education course is subject to state sales tax.”

“While it does not carry the weight of law, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s January 29 opinion has potentially far-reaching implications, given the state’s role as a trend setter for other states. The department asserts that an e-course offered by SkillSoft Corporation, a New Hampshire-based company, should be subject to sales tax as “software” purchased by the student. In so ruling, the department has justified an unprecedented tax on educational services, according to a tax consultant familiar with the case.” . . .

“The lack of human interaction in the online course appears to have been a key piece of the department’s justification for taxation. Indeed, the department held that some of the courses were tax exempt in instances where SkillSoft provided video-based training online. In declaring such an exemption, the state gave a further indication that some form of human interaction — however remote — helps push a distance learning course into the realm of a non-taxable educational experience.” . . .

Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work: Web 2.0 Tools Present a Vast Array of Opportunities — For Companies that Know How to Use Them
by Michael Chui, Andy Miller, and Roger P. Roberts
February 2009, The McKinsey Quarterly

Summary by the Benton Foundation “Technologies known collectively as Web 2.0 have spread widely among consumers over the past five years. Social-networking Web sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, now attract more than 100 million visitors a month. As the popularity of Web 2.0 has grown, companies have noted the intense consumer engagement and creativity surrounding these technologies. Many organizations, keen to harness Web 2.0 internally, are experimenting with the tools or deploying them on a trial basis. Over the past two years, McKinsey has studied more than 50 early adopters to garner insights into successful efforts to use Web 2.0 as a way of unlocking participation.”

“The six critical factors that determine the outcome of efforts to implement these technologies:

1) The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.

2) The best uses come from users — but they require help to scale.

3) What’s in the workflow is what gets used.

4) Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs — not just their wallets.

5) The right solution comes from the right participants.

6) Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.”

In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update
by Motoko Rich
Feb. 15, 2009, New York Times

. . . “Ms. Rosalia, 54, is part of a growing cadre of 21st-century multimedia specialists who help guide students through the digital ocean of information that confronts them on a daily basis. These new librarians believe that literacy includes, but also exceeds, books. ‘The days of just reshelving a book are over,’ said Ms. Rosalia, who came to P.S. 225 nearly six years ago after graduating at the top of her class at the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. ‘Now it is the information age, and that technology has brought out a whole new generation of practices.’

“Some of these new librarians teach children how to develop PowerPoint presentations or create online videos. Others get students to use social networking sites to debate topics from history or comment on classmates’ creative writing. Yet as school librarians increasingly teach students crucial skills needed not only in school, but also on the job and in daily life, they are often the first casualties of school budget crunches.” . . .

Professors Regard Online Instruction as Less Effective Than Classroom Learning
by David Shieh
Feb. 10, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Online courses may be gaining a foothold in higher education, but substantial skepticism over their effectiveness remains, according to results of two recent surveys. The surveys, conducted by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, also found “widespread concern” that budget cuts would hamper distance-learning programs.”

“The preliminary results of the surveys, which polled faculty members and administrators separately about their opinions of distance-learning programs, were unveiled here Monday at the American Council on Education’s conference. The survey of faculty members found that while a majority of faculty members acknowledge that distance instruction offers students increased accessibility and flexibility, developing and teaching online courses can be burdensome.”

” ‘What faculty tell us is, ‘It takes me more time; it takes me more effort,’ said Jeff Seaman, chief information officer for the Sloan Consortium, who is helping Nasulgc oversee the faculty survey. The consortium works with institutions to improve online education. Instructors’ extra time and effort aren’t being rewarded financially or professionally, and what’s more, online education doesn’t translate into better learning outcomes, said respondents in the faculty survey. More than 10,000 faculty members at 67 public campuses responded to the survey.”

“While 30 percent of faculty members surveyed felt that online courses provided superior or equivalent learning outcomes when compared with face-to-face classes, 70 percent felt that learning outcomes were inferior. Among faculty members who have taught online courses, that figure drops to 48 percent, but that still represents a “substantial minority” holding a negative view, Mr. Seaman said. The survey also found that a majority of faculty members felt that institutions provided inadequate compensation for those taking on the additional responsibility of teaching online courses. And many respondents said that students needed more discipline before they could benefit from online instruction. Low retention rates among students and the lack of consideration of online teaching experience in tenure-and-promotion decisions were also cited as barriers to faculty interest in online teaching.”

“The survey of administrators, which received responses from officials at 45 public institutions, found concerns about how budget cuts and economic uncertainty may affect distance-learning programs. “People would say, ‘This is what we’re doing now, but my hunch or my gut fear is that six weeks from now … we can’t say that we’ll be on the same path or trajectory,'” said Sally McCarthy, a research consultant for NASULGC. Administrators surveyed also cited the need for institutions to incorporate online learning into their mission statements, create a single office to oversee online-learning programs, and bring people from across the institution in on discussions about online learning.”

“Full survey results are scheduled for release in April.”

The Kindle Revolution: Digital Readers Will Save Writers And Publishing, Even if They Destroy the Book Business.
by Marion Maneker
March 4, 2009, The Big Money

“Amazon announced the second iteration of its Kindle electronic reading device last month. The next day, HarperCollins announced that it would close its Collins division to substantially reduce head count and limit the number of books it acquires to publish. It was almost as if Harper was acting out a ritual dismemberment upon hearing the news.”

“There was, in fact, no cause and effect between the two events-but there ought to have been. The Kindle may be little more than a novelty device today. With each passing day, though, it begins to have the potential to change the business model for writers of all types and stripes. As for Harper, the layoffs were the caboose in a long train of publishing industry firings that began last fall. Think of the causal chain here as the beginning of the beginning for digital delivery of written works and the beginning of the end for the corporate publishing conglomerate.” . . .

“Here’s where the Kindle comes in. The collapse of bookstores almost ensures that the Kindle will thrive. Not because it’s better than a book; that doesn’t matter. The nation-within-a-nation that reads for pleasure and to be informed is a small but vibrant republic. Heavy readers make up a large portion of the book-buying public. These are people who read two to three books a week and buy 50 or so books a year. The Kindle will solve a number of problems for the citizens of Biblandia, not the least of which is having to go find a bookstore to get their next read.”

“Theoretically, the Kindle will give writers greater access to the public. Some of contemporary publishing’s biggest success stories are self-propelled sensations. The Secret and the Twilight series were self-published works that became independent industries. A publishing house played no role in their initial success.”

“These books suggest a truly Darwinian future for the book business. With the Kindle, a plucky writer can publish and promote her own work at very little cost beyond time and determination. Once she proves her appeal with a sufficiently impressive rate of sale, she’ll merit having her words printed on paper and distributed. Everyone benefits from the efficiency.”

AASA Hears What’s About to Disrupt Schools: Online Instruction, Says Best-Selling Education Author, Will Change Schooling As We Know It–If We’re Lucky
by Dennis Pierce
Feb. 23, 2009, eSchool News

“If Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen is right, half of all instruction will take place online within the next 10 years–and schools had better get into the online-learning market or risk losing their students to other providers.” …

Playing Violent Video Games Has Risks: Study
by Joene Hendry
Feb. 6, 2009, Reuters Health

“Among young college students, the frequency and type of video games played appears to parallel risky drug and alcohol use, poorer personal relationships, and low levels of self-esteem, researchers report.  “This does not mean that every person who plays video games has low self-worth, or that playing video games will lead to drug use,” Laura M. Padilla-Walker told Reuters Health.  Rather, these findings simply indicate video gaming may cluster with a number of negative outcomes, “at least for some segment of the population,” said Padilla-Walker, an associate professor at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.”

Online Enrollment, Plagiarism Tools, Laptops, Writing, Taxing Software, Corporate Web 2.0, Online Effectiveness?, Kindle, Games

Colleges Need to Plan for Broadband Initiatives/Public Computer Centers – Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Community colleges, libraries and universities need to be aware that they will be eligible to receive funding through the government stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ARRA) which Congress passed on Feb. 14, 2009.  The timetable will be quick — the agencies would like to make all of the awards by the end of 2010.

As the American Library Association advised its members, colleges should review their current broadband connectivity and document and prioritize their broadband needs. Colleges that are connected to regional networks should identify what network enhancements-especially related to enhancing broadband-will be needed in the next several years. Colleges should also think about possible partners with whom they could submit applications.  Colleges should check to see if their state has established an office or agency to coordinate any broadband applications.

Of the $4.7 billion the Commerce Department will administer, the ARRA reserves “up to $200 million” for “public computer center capacity,” at community colleges and public libraries.  Another $250 million is set aside for competitive grants for “innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services.”  I attended a hearing on Monday at NTIA and a big question was what constitutes an “innovative” program.  The answer could determine what types of programs are funded.

In addition, the USDA’s Rural Development Office will distribute $2.5 billion dollars in loans, loan guarantees, and grants for broadband deployment.  So colleges in rural areas should pay particular attention to the Rural Utility Service’s distribution of funding – http://www.usda.gov/rus/ .

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service are working together to write the guidelines and application processes they will use to distribute this money – and they have asked for comments.  We encourage you to submit comments through this process since other entities will by vying for this funding and they would like to steer the guidelines in their direction.

The American Library Association has written a great piece, “Top Ten Things you Can Do Now… To Get Broadband Stimulus Funding for your Library” at http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/washfunding/fedfund/Broadband%20Top%20Ten.pdf

The ALA also summarizes the legislation at http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/washfunding/fedfund/Broadband%20funding%20an.pdf

See the legislation at http://dpi.wi.gov/pld/pdf/broadbandarra.pdf

Chris.

Here are some other resources:

Request for Comment and Notice of Public Meetings

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Broadband Initiatives
March 12, 2009
Federal Register: Volume 74, Number 47

Deadline for Comments: April 13, 2009

Section 6001 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The Recovery Act further establishes authority for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to make grants and loans for the deployment and construction of broadband systems. NTIA and RUS will hold a series of public meetings about the new programs beginning on March 16, 2009.

1. The Purposes of the Grant Program: Section 6001 of the Recovery Act establishes five purposes for the BTOP grant program.

(1) Provide access to broadband service to consumers residing in unserved areas of the United States;

(2) provide improved access to broadband service to consumers residing in underserved areas of the United States;

(3) provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support to–

(A) Schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, community colleges, and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and entities to facilitate greater use of broadband service by or through these organizations;

(B) organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by low-income, unemployed, aged, and otherwise vulnerable populations; and

(C) job-creating strategic facilities located within a State-designated economic zone, Economic Development District designated by the Department of Commerce, Renewal Community or Empowerment Zone designated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or Enterprise Community designated by the Department of Agriculture;

(4) improve access to, and use, of broadband service by public safety agencies; and

(5) stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job creation.

Questions:

a. Should a certain percentage of grant funds be apportioned to each category?
b. Should applicants be encouraged to address more than one purpose?
c. How should the BTOP leverage or respond to the other broadband-related portions of the Recovery Act, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants and loans program as well as the portions of the Recovery Act that address smart grids, health information technology, education, and transportation infrastructure?
6. Grants for Expanding Public Computer Center Capacity: The Recovery Act directs that not less than $200,000,000 of the BTOP shall be awarded for grants that expand public computer center capacity, including at community colleges and public libraries.

Questions:
a. What selection criteria should be applied to ensure the success of this aspect of the program?
b. What additional institutions other than community colleges and public libraries should be considered as eligible recipients under this program?

7. Grants for Innovative Programs to Encourage Sustainable Adoption of Broadband Service: The Recovery Act directs that not less than $250,000,000 of the BTOP shall be awarded for grants for innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services.

 
Questions:

a. What selection criteria should be applied to ensure the success of this program?

b. What measures should be used to determine whether such innovative programs have succeeded in creating sustainable adoption of broadband services?

10. Timely Completion of Proposals: The Recovery Act states that NTIA shall establish the BTOP as expeditiously as practicable, ensure that all awards are made before the end of fiscal year 2010, and seek assurances from grantees that projects supported by the programs will be substantially completed within two (2) years following an award.  The Recovery Act also requires that grant recipients report quarterly on the recipient’s use of grant funds and the grant recipient’s progress in fulfilling the objectives of the grant proposal.

12. Coordination with USDA’s Broadband Grant Program: The Recovery Act directs USDA’s Rural Development Office to distribute $2.5 billion dollars in loans, loan guarantees, and grants for broadband deployment. The stated focus of the USDA’s program is economic development in rural areas. NTIA has broad authority in its grant program to award grants throughout the United States. Although the two programs have different statutory structures, the programs have many similar purposes, namely the promotion of economic development based on deployment of broadband service and technologies.

You can submit your comments and read those that have been received at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants

Stimulus Compromise Awards $7.2 Billion for Broadband, Splits Funding Between Agencies
by Andrew Feinberg, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com, and Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com
Feb. 13, 2009

“Advocates for federal promotion of broadband access breathed easier after a congressional conference committee reported a final version of the economic stimulus bill with $7.2 billion for broadband – more than either chamber had allocated individually.  …

“$4.7 billion will be administered by the Commerce Department, and $2.5 billion will be administered by the Agriculture Department.  The legislation is designed to increase broadband adoption and deployment in unserved and underserved areas, and in schools, libraries, and to low income Americans and the elderly. The bill also encourages deployment of broadband services to improve public safety communications among first responders.” . . .

“Of the $4.7 billion in NTIA funds, up to $200 million are reserved for “public computer center capacity,” specifically community colleges and public libraries. Another $250 million is set aside for competitive grants for “innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband services.” Another $10 million will go to oversight by the department’s inspector general.” . . .

What’s In The Final Version of The Stimulus Plan?
by David Herszenhorn
Feb. 14, 2009, the New York Times

Summary provided by the Benton Foundation

On its way to becoming law, two crucial things happened to President Obama’s economic recovery plan: It got smaller and faster. Smaller in that it was cut to $787 billion from more than $800 billion in early versions in the House and Senate. And faster in that the Congressional Budget Office now projects that 74 percent of the money will be spent by Sept. 30, 2010, compared with 64 percent in the original House bill. Now the test is whether the mix of tax cuts and government spending, including public works projects, will create jobs and spur a recovery.

Here’s some of the things in the bill:

1) Energy: Programs to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are big winners in the stimulus package, receiving more than $45 billion in new spending and tax breaks. The bill provides more than $10 billion to modernize the electricity grid and install “smart” meters in homes.

2) Science: After being traumatized when Congress suddenly slashed research budgets for science agencies last year, scientists were pleasantly surprised to find that they did not lose out again in the last round of negotiations on the stimulus plan. NIH gets $10 billion; NSF gets $ 3 billion; $1.6 billion for NASA; and the Energy Department’s Office of Science gets $1.6 billion.

3) Health: The bill provides more than $19 billion to digitize medical records and link up doctors and hospitals with information technology. It includes new safeguards to protect the privacy of medical records, generally forbidding health care providers to sell individually identifiable health information without permission from the patient.

4) Broadband: The bill includes $7 billion to expand broadband access. $4.7 billion will be administered by the Commerce Department, and $2.5 billion will be administered by the Agriculture Department. $350 million will be spent for broadband mapping.

Colleges Need to Plan for Broadband Initiatives/Public Computer Centers – Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Discount for 2009 AACC Convention – Deadline is Today, Tuesday, March 3 by 4:00pm Eastern Time

Staff at ITC-Member Colleges Receive $147 Registration Discount to Attend AACC Convention in April 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona

Please forward this to your college president and anyone else who plans to attend!!

We wanted to make you aware of a special benefit of membership in ITC so you don’t register to attend AACC before you can take advantage of this discount:

Any employee from any ITC-member institution will be able to receive a $147 registration discount to attend the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention in Phoenix, Ariz. on April 4-7, 2009 – the base registration fee will be $450 per person, rather than $597. Participants must be institutional members of ITC, but they do not have to be part of the distance learning department to receive this substantial discount.

Note: You must follow this process to receive this discount. AACC will not offer any refunds, i.e. you cannot participate in this discount, if you have already submitted your registration or payment directly to AACC.

To participate you need to:

1. Fill out a council registration form for each registrant is available on the ITC Web site – http://www.itcnetwork.org.  Note that the base registration fee does not include meals – you can purchase tickets to attend any of these events when you fill out the registration form.

2. Return the completed registration form to ITC – mail it with a check made payable to AACC or fax it to 202.822.5014 with your credit card information.  Forms and payment must be received by the ITC office by Tuesday, March 3, 2009 by 4:00pm Eastern Time.  ITC will submit your registration and payment information to AACC.

Pay for your ITC membership dues through this special discount!! We hope you take advantage of this special offer – the savings you receive from two registrations from your college will nearly cover your ITC annual membership dues!

Thank you!  Chris

Discount for 2009 AACC Convention – Deadline is Today, Tuesday, March 3 by 4:00pm Eastern Time