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Using E-Rate to lead a Digital Transformation in Education

For many businesses, technology has become an integral part of operations, transforming the way people learn, think, and do their jobs. With the right tools, K-12 school districts can experience these same transformational benefits. Digital transformation in education means using technology to create better access to educational experiences for students. That can be using mobile solutions to allow students to access anytime, anywhere learning in a secure way. Or it could be using collaboration tools to create a shared learning environment, or data analytics to help teachers fill in gaps in students’ skills and knowledge.

While the benefits of digital transformation for students are vast, one of the biggest hurdles schools face in their quest for transformation is funding. It requires a significant investment to ensure network infrastructure is adequate, to purchase technology tools for students and teachers, and to train educators on how to best use the new technologies in the classroom.

Schools facing this hurdle should consider leveraging the E-rate Program. USAC just announced that the window for filing E-rate applications for Funding Year 2016 will open on February 3, 2016. The window will close 87 days later on April 29. If your school meets the criteria for the program, you can save anywhere from 20 to 90 percent on eligible services. These discounts can ease the financial burden of upgrading network infrastructure and put schools on the path to a successful digital transformation. To learn more about digital transformation in education and how the E-rate Program can help, check out this special report from Cisco and eSchool News.

On Tuesday, February 9, Cisco will host a webcast on E-rate and the digital transformation. The webcast will feature Scott Smith, the CTO of Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina, and John Harrington, CEO, Funds for Learning. Scott will discuss how their all-digital curriculum has led to more personalized, student-centric, and data-driven approaches. John will provide a briefing on current status of the E-Rate program—including procurement best practices and current filing deadlines. To register for the webcast, click here.

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#HigherEdThursdays – Meeting the Community College Boom

For the past five years we’ve witnessed a surge in demand for community colleges across the U.S. The reasons for this demand are varied. There are professionals who have been let go from work, there are adult learners who desire new skills and there are traditional students continuing their education in greater numbers.

Much of the growth in enrollment can be contributed to students going online to get degrees. According to Instructional Technology Council, online enrollment is up by over five percent between 2012 and 2013, , and with that growth come several challenges.

Both traditional and online learners demand that education be cost-effective. These students include digital natives who have learned with technology since their infancy, and they want customized education. Standardized instruction across classes is becoming a framework of the past. Read More »

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Bringing Back Music Education to Our Schools

While many are arguing the existence of a comeback in liberal arts education, too many public schools are seeing a decline in arts education due to budget and resource cuts. The benefits of music and arts education are well documented, but we continue to see schools losing music programs.

Unfortunately, cutting music programs in public schools tends to impact low-income students disproportionately, as private access is available to those who can afford and support it. However, people and technology are making a difference and finding a way to bring music education to schools in new ways. Read More »

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Will The Internet of Everything Change the Way Students Learn?

Think back to your favorite class in school. How would that class be different if it took place today? My favorite was a 7th grade art class. While it’s hard to imagine Mrs. Vincent in a modern classroom with a tablet or smartphone, I know she would be on the cutting edge of art education.

The dynamics of what a traditional classroom looks like have evolved from the old chalkboard and teacher-centered classrooms into connected technology hubs, with online lesson plans, virtual fieldtrips, flipped classrooms and MOOCs. As technology advances, it is changing the way students learn and access education.

In his recent blog post, Dave Evans examines what the future of education looks like through the lens of of the Internet of Everything (IoE). Students will experience a rich virtual classroom—attending lectures, asking questions, participating in real-time discussions with instructors anywhere in the world. Read More »

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Midland County, Texas Builds Library of the Future

What happens when libraries transform from traditional, quiet places to engaging spaces that inspire learning? The old perceptions of libraries are swept away and energized by interactive, connected learning for the entire community.

That’s exactly what the strategy is at the Midland County Library in Texas. When the county decided to upgrade one of its public libraries, it was determined to create an innovative facility to change people’s perceptions of a traditional library.  The library partnered with Cisco to develop its IT infrastructure, incorporating interactive technology to entice new populations to visit the library, creating “the library of the future.” As a result, the Midland County Library now has a state-of-the-art, interactive facility, featuring digital walls, e-book rentals and training programs on how to use new technology.

As I’ve written today on the education blog, the technology transformation is proving successful; since its opening, the new library has had more than 1,000 visitors daily.

This weekend, if you are attending the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual conference in Fort Worth, join me for Midland County’s 8am workshop on Sunday – Using Interactive Technology to Drive Citizen Engagement in room 202 D.

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