Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

02/06/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:01:28 AM Start
08:03:31 AM Presentation: Broadband Access and Virtual Education in School Districts
09:32:11 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Broadband Access and Virtual Education in School TELECONFERENCED
Districts
Presentation by Alaska Council of School
Administrators and the Alaska Association of
School Boards
Joint Hearing with House Education
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 6, 2017                                                                                        
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Shelley Hughes, Chair                                                                                                  
 Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                           
 Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                          
 Senator John Coghill                                                                                                           
 Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Harriet Drummond, Chair                                                                                         
 Representative Justin Parish, Vice Chair                                                                                       
 Representative Zach Fansler                                                                                                    
 Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                   
 Representative Jennifer Johnston                                                                                               
 Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                      
 Representative David Talerico                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 All members present                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: BROADBAND ACCESS AND VIRTUAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOL                                                                  
DISTRICTS                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive Director                                                                                   
Alaska Council of School Educators (ACSA)                                                                                       
Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA)                                                                                        
Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP)                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information on broadband access                                                                 
and virtual education in school districts.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT WHICKER, Ph.D., Director                                                                                                 
Consortium for Digital Learning (CDL)                                                                                           
Alaska Association of School Boards (AASB)                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information about broadband access                                                              
and virtual education in school districts.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SEAN DUSEK, Superintendent                                                                                                      
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD)                                                                                 
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information on KPBSD's broadband                                                                
access.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA ADAMS, Teacher                                                                                                           
Distance Education                                                                                                              
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD)                                                                                 
Seward, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information on virtual education                                                                
in KPBSD.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MIKE FLECKENSTEIN, Chief Information Officer                                                                                    
Anchorage School District (ASD)                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented an overview of virtual learning in                                                              
the ASD.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DAN WALKER, Superintendent                                                                                                      
Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD)                                                                                          
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT: Presented  information about  LKSD's distant                                                             
learning network.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
TY MASE, Superintendent                                                                                                         
Lake & Peninsula School District (LPSD)                                                                                         
King Salmon, Alaska                                                                                                             
POSITION  STATEMENT: Presented  information on  targeting student                                                             
success   through    university   collaboration    and   tutoring                                                               
interventions.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ROB PICOU, Ph.D., Superintendent                                                                                                
Lower Yukon School District (LYSD)                                                                                              
Mountain Village, Alaska                                                                                                        
POSITION  STATEMENT: Presented  information on  technology access                                                             
and cost in LYSD.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
AMY EAKIN                                                                                                                       
Director of Technology                                                                                                          
Northwest Arctic Borough School District (NWABSD)                                                                               
Kotzebue, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT: Presented  information  on broadband  access                                                             
and programs in NWABSD.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BRETT AGENBROAD, Superintendent                                                                                                 
Pribilof School District (PSD)                                                                                                  
St. Paul, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION   STATEMENT:  Presented   information  regarding   PSD's                                                             
broadband capabilities.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:01:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  called the joint  meeting of the House  and House                                                             
Education Standing  Committees to order  at 8:01 a.m.  Present at                                                               
the  call  to  order  were  Senators  Giessel,  Begich,  Coghill,                                                               
Stevens  and  Chair  Hughes, and  Representatives  Kopp,  Parish,                                                               
Johnston, Fansler, Spohnholz, Talerico, and Chair Drummond.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION: BROADBAND  ACCESS AND VIRTUAL EDUCATION  IN SCHOOL                                                               
DISTRICTS                                                                                                                       
 PRESENTATION: BROADBAND ACCESS AND VIRTUAL EDUCATION IN SCHOOL                                                             
                           DISTRICTS                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
8:03:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
presentations  on  Broadband  Access  and  Virtual  Education  in                                                               
School  Districts.  She  said  today  school  districts  will  be                                                               
weighing in  on the topic.  She noted that virtual  education has                                                               
provided an  exciting opportunity for students  throughout Alaska                                                               
to  have  access  to  quality  education  without  having  to  be                                                               
physically  present   in  the  classroom.  However,   many  rural                                                               
districts have  difficulties with  access to basic  internet, let                                                               
alone,  high   quality  virtual  education   through  synchronous                                                               
learning.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:04:08 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive  Director, Alaska Council of                                                               
School  Educators  (ACSA),   Alaska  Superintendents  Association                                                               
(ASA),   Alaska  Association   of  Secondary   School  Principals                                                               
(AASSP),  Juneau,  Alaska,  presented  information  on  broadband                                                               
access  and virtual  education in  school districts.  She told  a                                                               
story  of technology  failure for  a district-wide  in-service in                                                               
the North Slope and the need to have Plan B.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:06:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SPOHNHOLZ  asked   for   clarification  on   the                                                               
differences between distance education and virtual education.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. PARADY deferred to superintendents and districts to answer.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HUGHES called  Dr. Whicker  to answer  the question  about                                                               
virtual education.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:07:51 AM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT   WHICKER,  Ph.D.,   Director,   Consortium  for   Digital                                                               
Learning,   Alaska  Association   of  School   Boards,  presented                                                               
information  about  broadband  access and  virtual  education  in                                                               
school  districts.  He  defined  virtual  education  as  "someone                                                               
somewhere else delivering instruction  or content." He added that                                                               
it may be delivered through a variety of means.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:08:26 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:10:20 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. PARADY introduced the first presenter, Mr. Dusek.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:10:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SEAN  DUSEK,  Superintendent,   Kenai  Peninsula  Borough  School                                                               
District  (KPBSD),  presented  information on  KPBSD's  broadband                                                               
access.  He related  that 97.6  percent of  their schools  exceed                                                               
100Mbps per  1,000 students, the current  national standard. They                                                               
are  striving to  have 1Gbps  per 1000  students. Of  44 schools,                                                               
66.67 percent are on fiber  infrastructure. He wished to have all                                                               
schools  on  fiber, since  microwave  and  copper are  much  more                                                               
expensive. He related that E-rate  service costs about $1 million                                                               
per year and the district receives  a subsidy of $683,000 for it.                                                               
Since 1998  the district  has received over  $10.9 million  in E-                                                               
rate support. He  said there is a special  opportunity through E-                                                               
rate to build up their non-fiber site.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:13:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  DUSEK showed  a graph  of KPBSD  programs and  distinguished                                                               
between   online  courses,   video   conferencing,  and   blended                                                               
learning. The online  courses have evolved over 10  years and are                                                               
asynchronous, such as through email,  and are considered distance                                                               
education. Video-conferencing is part  of the virtual world area,                                                               
such as  Polycom, Skype for  Business, Student  Collaboration and                                                               
Teacher  Collaboration.  He noted  the  importance  of Skype  for                                                               
Business,  now  and in  the  future,  for presentations  and  for                                                               
professional development.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
He said they are also moving  into the world of blended learning,                                                               
a combination of live  classrooms and "anytime/anywhere learning"                                                               
with the use of Canvas and  Digital Parallel. He used Seward High                                                               
School as  an example where  they have  hybrid high school  - all                                                               
teachers  have created  a  digital parallel  to  all classes.  He                                                               
discussed the advantages of that  medium for students who are not                                                               
in the school.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:16:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  DUSEK  addressed  student  program data.  He  spoke  of  the                                                               
positive  impacts of  distance education  courses. Many  colleges                                                               
now have  online courses  and this type  of course  helps prepare                                                               
students for that type of learning.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
He shared information  about Canvas staff program  data usage. In                                                               
the fall of 2015 only 29  teachers were involved in this project;                                                               
now 283  are involved. He expected  it to be completely  in place                                                               
by next  year. He  provided a  story of a  teacher in  Seward who                                                               
makes good use of on-line access.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:18:43 AM                                                                                                                    
AMANDA  ADAMS,  Teacher,   Distance  Education,  Kenai  Peninsula                                                               
Borough  School   District  (KPBSD),  presented   information  on                                                               
virtual education in KPBSD. She  shared the six key components of                                                               
distance    learning   in    KPBSD:   relationships,    teaching,                                                               
personalization,  differentiation,   content,  connectivity.  She                                                               
detailed the importance of relationships.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:20:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  recognized  the  presence  of  Representative  Dan                                                               
Ortiz.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  ADAMS  explained the  teaching  component  and the  feedback                                                               
cycle, and  she noted the teacher  pupil ratio is the  same as in                                                               
the classroom.  She discussed the  difference between  canned and                                                               
curated courses,  which KPSBD  uses. Distance  Education augments                                                               
the system  and offers options  to students. She gave  an example                                                               
of a gifted student's use of podcasts.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
She talked about differentiation and  how the setting and content                                                               
must  be  adjusted  for  students.  She  related  the  limits  to                                                               
distance  learning and  the need  to have  a variety  of delivery                                                               
mechanisms. She provided examples of content delivery.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
She  talked   about  connectivity  and  provided   examples.  She                                                               
stressed  the  importance of  equity  in  distance learning.  She                                                               
concluded with the need for on-the-ground support.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:25:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. DUSEK concluded by saying  that their presentation was just a                                                               
taste of  what is happening  in KPBSD.  He offered to  have board                                                               
members share specifics and students share their perspectives.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:26:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES thanked Mr. Dusek.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:27:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  FLECKENSTEIN, Chief  Information Officer,  Anchorage School                                                               
District (ASD), presented an overview  of virtual learning in the                                                               
ASD.  He  showed  the continuum  of  virtual  learning;  extended                                                               
learning,  personalized learning,  and virtual  choice. He  began                                                               
with  extended   learning  which  includes   online  assessments,                                                               
practice  and  reinforcement,   online  writing  instruction  and                                                               
feedback,  and  digital  textbooks   (most  structured  to  least                                                               
structured). He  pointed out  that digital  textbooks are  one of                                                               
the  first steps  toward virtual  learning and  are always  up to                                                               
date.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:29:38 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FLECKENSTEIN turned to  Personalized Learning, a multi-tiered                                                               
system of  supports, including acceleration and  intervention. It                                                               
has adaptive  content and assessment  and maximizes  the benefits                                                               
of technology  and instruction. He  shared data about  the number                                                               
of ASD  students in personalized  learning for math  and language                                                               
arts. He  listed several  programs they use.  He noted  growth of                                                               
1.5 years to 2 years with the use of these programs.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:32:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FLECKENSTEIN discussed  Virtual  Choice; anytime,  anywhere,                                                               
any pace  instruction. It  consists of  fully online  courses. He                                                               
shared the  metrics related to  the use  of ASD Virtual  Choice -                                                               
Apex and  iSchool. He  related the amount  of bandwidth  that ASD                                                               
currently  has and  what it  will have  in May  of 2017.  It will                                                               
double  in  May  and the  cost  will  be  reduced  due to  a  new                                                               
contract.  He noted  the State  Educational Technology  Directors                                                               
Association (SETDA) recommendation for connectivity.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:35:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FLECKENSTEIN concluded  with  issues  regarding ASD  virtual                                                               
learning  investments,  including connectivity,  device  refresh,                                                               
curricular  updates, and  professional  development. He  stressed                                                               
the importance of the teacher's role.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:37:49 AM                                                                                                                    
DAN  WALKER,  Superintendent,  Lower  Kuskokwim  School  District                                                               
(LKSD),  presented  information  about  LKSD's  distant  learning                                                               
network. He  described LKSD and  showed pictures of  what distant                                                               
learning  looks  like  in  a   teaching  studio.  He  shared  the                                                               
connectivity abilities  of their broadband, which  is prioritized                                                               
to  ensure that  video conferencing  is the  priority. He  showed                                                               
several slides of students in remote villages taking classes.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALKER shared innovative programs  taking place in LKSD, such                                                               
as robotics and Lego League  teams. He described the logistics of                                                               
providing distance  education over 21,000 miles.  He talked about                                                               
the USDA Rural  Utility Services grants that help  offset some of                                                               
the cost of  equipment. Those monies are  coupled with foundation                                                               
funds to stay current with technology.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
He described the  amount of bandwidth in the  district; a 300Mbps                                                               
connection to the  Internet, which averages out  to about .07Mbps                                                               
per  student.   The  national  standard  is   1Gbts  of  internet                                                               
connectivity per 1000 students. LKSD is  at 7 percent of that. He                                                               
concluded by stressing the importance  of the state's involvement                                                               
with funding  broadband. The  district pays  about $28  million a                                                               
year  for internet  and wide  area network  connectivity with  90                                                               
percent of that  reimbursed through the E-rate  program. He noted                                                               
the  district does  not share  its dedicated  bandwidth with  the                                                               
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:46:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES thanked Mr. Walker and  commented that he is doing a                                                               
lot with a little.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:46:32 AM                                                                                                                    
TY  MASE,  Superintendent,  Lake   &  Peninsula  School  District                                                               
(LPSD),  presented  information   on  targeting  student  success                                                               
through university  collaboration and tutoring  interventions. He                                                               
described LPSD,  a district  that does not  have fiber  and where                                                               
all internet is  operated by satellite. He said they  rely on on-                                                               
line  tutoring and  counseling,  in-district and  out-of-district                                                               
online courses.  They also have on-line  professional development                                                               
offered through Adobe  Connect. He showed a video  of student use                                                               
of university collaborations and interventions.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:51:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MASE noted  the district works with  several universities for                                                               
on-line tutoring for 50-plus students  every week. He shared that                                                               
they have over 70 students  taking in-district online courses and                                                               
several dozen doing out-of-district courses.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He concluded that they do a lot  with what they have and are very                                                               
proud  about  what they  do.  He  noted  they are  struggling  to                                                               
maintain their programs and budget  and grant cuts would put them                                                               
in jeopardy.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES thanked Mr. Mase.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:54:05 AM                                                                                                                    
ROB  PICOU, Ph.D.,  Superintendent, Lower  Yukon School  District                                                               
(LYSD), presented  information on  technology access and  cost in                                                               
LYSD. He described the school  district and shared their learning                                                               
goals and  how much bandwidth  is needed  at each goal  level. He                                                               
described the need  for high-speed connectivity and  how far LYSD                                                               
is from having it.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He noted  connectivity has been  improving in rural  Alaska since                                                               
2013, however,  LYSD is not  meeting the  minimum 100kbps/student                                                               
goal. He  showed a  graph of  what is  needed for  basic internet                                                               
service per  student, 1:1 internet, media  rich environments, and                                                               
the levels currently  in each LYSD community. He  noted last year                                                               
they were well  below the minimum; this year  they have increased                                                               
from 5 Mbps per school to 15 Mbps per school.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
He shared  their goals  for the future  and mentioned  that their                                                               
schools have significant dead spots.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:59:23 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PICOU commented  on  the cost  for  inadequate and  adequate                                                               
broadband access. He said 90 percent of their cost is paid by E-                                                                
rate. He broke down the current  costs per student. He quoted the                                                               
Atlantic  Journal 2015  regarding Alaska's  Disconnected Schools:                                                               
"On average, K-12 schools have  246 kbps of internet connectivity                                                               
-  a third  of what  most  people on  the mainland  U.S. need  to                                                               
stream Netflix."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:00:56 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  PICOU concluded  with observations  on the  limits to  basic                                                               
network usage and LYSD's needs:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Limited to basic network usage.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Extremely limited on internet based applications.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     To  accomplish a  single video  call,  live with  other                                                                    
     schools  in the  District or  outside of  the District,                                                                    
     requires prioritization of traffic.  When providing a 2                                                                    
     Mbps video conferencing priority,  we take those 2 Mbps                                                                    
     from  our total  and  restrict access  to students  all                                                                    
     across  the  district. The  Kbps  for  each student  is                                                                    
     reduced.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Synchronous   distance   learning,    such   as   video                                                                    
     conferencing, and asynchronous  distance learning, such                                                                    
     as   web-based  credit   recovery  programs   are  very                                                                    
     challenging without greater broadband access.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Limited Expertise and Leadership.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     LYSD  needs  a  significant  investment  in  networking                                                                    
     infrastructure, which includes  access points, hardware                                                                    
     in the  hands of  students, learning  applications, and                                                                    
     staff development.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
AMY  EAKIN,  Director  of Technology,  Northwest  Arctic  Borough                                                               
School  District  (NWABSD),  presented information  on  broadband                                                               
access and programs  in NWABSD. She said  NWABSD provides several                                                               
types  of  virtual  education for  students  region  wide:  video                                                               
teleconferencing, Canvas - a  learning management system, Acellus                                                               
- a  supplemental virtual blended learning  program, and adaptive                                                               
language  arts and  mathematics  curriculum.  She concluded  that                                                               
NWABSD  will  continue  to provide  virtual  education  to  serve                                                               
students   living   in   remote  areas   in   NWABSD's   isolated                                                               
geographical area. Virtual education  allows equal access to high                                                               
quality, rigorous  education to  all students. She  described the                                                               
increase in broadband services over the past five years.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
She maintained that the district  has an increased need for staff                                                               
and training, higher bandwidth needs  and lower latency networks.                                                               
The district  will continue  to find  innovative ways  to provide                                                               
the best education to students  as possible. She contrasted their                                                               
small  amount of  connection compared  to Anchorage  and stressed                                                               
that they  are in  dire need of  better infrastructure  for their                                                               
region.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:07:35 AM                                                                                                                    
BRETT AGENBROAD, Superintendent,  Pribilof School District (PSD),                                                               
presented information regarding  PSD's broadband capabilities. He                                                               
described his  school district's small size  and remote location.                                                               
He said  TelAlaska is providing satellite  services and described                                                               
upload  congestion  problems. He  noted  they  do not  have  many                                                               
distant  opportunities;  they  mainly use  internet  for  student                                                               
assessment  -   programs  such   as  STAR,   Dibbles,  Publishers                                                               
Information,  and  MAP testing.  They  have  very little  virtual                                                               
learning.  They  have  problems with  teacher  turnover  and  the                                                               
difficulty of finding  a highly qualified math  teacher. They use                                                               
standardized,  canned programs  that  provide  math courses.  The                                                               
district has  to reduce its  use of  the internet while  the math                                                               
classes are going  on. The six faculty have a  hard time watching                                                               
videos for staff development due to congestion problems.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:12:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. AGENBROAD  said internet costs  run about $34,000  per month.                                                               
Those costs  are covered by  E-rate, grants, and  district funds.                                                               
He  requested  that  his  faculty  write  testimonials  regarding                                                               
internet use  problems. He read several  letters showing problems                                                               
due  to lack  of connectivity.  He concluded  that it  is not  an                                                               
option to use virtual education in the PSD.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:15:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES thanked  Mr. Agenbroad and said  they understand his                                                               
frustration over load times.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
She  asked  all  presenters  to  write  down  the  questions  the                                                               
committee members will now ask and respond to them.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She  began   by  asking   how  much  it   would  cost   to  bring                                                               
infrastructure up to the point  they need. She also asked whether                                                               
districts  have   looked  into  the  new   E-rate  infrastructure                                                               
programs and are expecting to access the USDA utility grants.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:16:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked  what impact a Quintillion  fiber optic line                                                               
would  have in  lowering costs  of delivering  internet to  areas                                                               
that  extended beyond  Kotzebue,  past Bethel,  and  into Lake  &                                                               
Peninsula area.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:16:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE FANSLER asked how  many providers for internet are                                                               
in  the  area and  what  connectivity  is  in the  community,  in                                                               
general.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES  noted that  these questions can  be found  later on                                                               
akleg.tv.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON asked, in  a perfect world, will distance                                                               
education  be  able  to  bridge the  gap  between  structure  and                                                               
discipline and that of higher achievement - educationally.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:18:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked what  the goal  is regarding  equality and                                                               
equity.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:18:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  asked if  there is a  relationship between                                                               
the ability  to retain highly  qualified teachers and  the amount                                                               
of broadband available to the school, district, and community.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:19:31 AM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  WHICKER, Ph.D.,  Consortium  of  Digital Learning  (CDL),                                                               
Alaska  Association  of  School Boards,  began  his  presentation                                                               
about broadband use  in school districts. He said  broadband is a                                                               
crucial aspect  moving forward  to modernize  the way  we educate                                                               
our children.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HUGHES  asked   if  Dr.  Whicker  wanted   to  answer  the                                                               
committee's questions.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR.  WICKER   suggested  he   provide  basic   information  about                                                               
technology and  bandwidth from his wide  education experience. He                                                               
shared   his   background    as   a   teacher/coach,   principal,                                                               
superintendent, homeschool  support director, and  charter school                                                               
dean of  students over  40 years.  He emphasized  that technology                                                               
and bandwidth has been at the center of all that.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
He said  he has also worked  for a major technology  company as a                                                               
business  education development  executive  in  eight states  and                                                               
worked  with the  smartest people  in  educational technology  in                                                               
those  states.  During  that  time,  he  helped  initiate  AASB's                                                               
Consortium for Digital Learning (CDL),  a national model. He said                                                               
he has also served on  the Alaska Statewide Broadband Task Force.                                                               
He stated, "With all of that,  I've learned that the more I study                                                               
and learn, and  the older I get, the less  I know." He maintained                                                               
that there are  not simple answers. He thanked  the committee for                                                               
taking on this challenge and serving the state.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. WHICKER  noted that  he has  a Ph.D.  from the  University of                                                               
Alaska  Fairbanks in  Transformational Leadership  in Technology.                                                               
His  cohort  of  students  included   Dr.  Pam  Lloyd,  Dr.  Mark                                                               
Standley,  and Dr.  Larry Ledoux.  He said  they all  studied the                                                               
one-to-one laptop  programs in Alaska from  four different areas.                                                               
They gained much knowledge on  the status of schools with digital                                                               
learning,  teacher   perspectives,  broadband   utilization,  and                                                               
practices    that   support    or    detract   from    successful                                                               
implementations.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
He said he  is not a technical expert, although  he has access to                                                               
many. He considers himself a power user and innovator.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DR. WHICKER shared  what he learned in the  Consortium where they                                                               
initiated one-to-one technology programs  in over 140 schools. He                                                               
said they laid  the groundwork where technology is  going and has                                                               
gone. The  successful implementations  across the state  are ones                                                               
that advanced digital learning by  controlling variables that are                                                               
under  their  control  and  working  around  those  that  aren't.                                                               
Sometimes that  means learning to  use the broadband you  have in                                                               
order  to amplify  and accelerate  learning  with the  technology                                                               
available.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He  opined  that having  enough  broadband  depends on  what  the                                                               
district  wants to  do. If  we're going  to establish  a distance                                                               
delivery  or blended  learning model  utilizing online  learning,                                                               
then  districts   need  to  establish   the  kinds   of  learning                                                               
activities  they desire  for their  children, and  then get  that                                                               
bandwidth requirement.  He said the  best analogy he has  is that                                                               
"we need  a highway that has  enough lanes to keep  things moving                                                               
for the traffic that uses it."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
He  noted that  the thirst  for  more broadband  is constant  and                                                               
never  ending and  we are  impatient  with it.  Slow internet  is                                                               
painful, waiting  for content on the  web as it buffers  or times                                                               
out. In  a learning environment,  on-task time is  very precious;                                                               
students  waiting  for  buffering  or  long  log-in  times  waste                                                               
learning time.  In schools, network  management of  that precious                                                               
bandwidth helps  in reaching goals. Internal  connections and Wi-                                                               
Fi networking  also need to  be optimized, but the  bandwidth and                                                               
the network  management determine  the learning activity  for the                                                               
child. The teacher does not get to make the decision.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:26:10 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. WHICKER turned to a  handout with four examples regarding use                                                               
of bandwidth in instruction and important lessons learned:                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     • An  on-site adult  to supervise  learning and  who is                                                                    
     good  with kids  is crucial,  success of  coursework is                                                                    
     greatly dependent on that person.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     •   Streamlined   administration  through   a   central                                                                    
     provider (in  this case the Academy)  takes much effort                                                                    
     off,  and provides  needed  expertise  to the  end-user                                                                    
     site. He noted four districts  that have worked hard in                                                                    
     this  area  through  the  Digital  Initiative  Program:                                                                    
     Kodiak, Ketchikan, Kenai, and Copper River.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     •  Constant  communication  between  the  provider  and                                                                    
     onsite  is needed,  relationships  must be  established                                                                    
     with both teacher and student.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
He noted  school districts are  doing some great things.  He used                                                               
Kodiak Island  School District as  an example. He  also mentioned                                                               
other districts use video conferencing  studios and mobile robots                                                               
using telepresence.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:27:55 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  WHICKER stated  that barriers  to  the use  of broadband  in                                                               
schools fall  into two  categories -  technical/physical barriers                                                               
and  non-technical  barriers.   Technical/physical  barriers  are                                                               
those such  as satellite latency  and student access  to physical                                                               
hardware.  Non-technical  barriers  are  those such  as  lack  of                                                               
technical  expertise, cost  of broadband,  implementation without                                                               
adequate   support  system,   and  ill-suited   desires  to   use                                                               
technology without an adequate amount of bandwidth available.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. WHICKER pointed out that there  is a series of Gavel to Gavel                                                               
TV   spots   on   districts  that   emphasize   innovations   and                                                               
efficiencies,  most   all  having  technology  and   the  use  of                                                               
broadband as  an integral  component. He  said that  schools most                                                               
always max  out the broadband they  have and when they  get more,                                                               
they  use  it  for  meaningful activities.  The  availability  of                                                               
enough  broadband   and  the  network  management   of  it  often                                                               
determines  how  a  student learns  digitally.  The  majority  of                                                               
Alaska's  students do  not have  access  to a  device-per-learner                                                               
environment. There is also a  large discrepancy on student access                                                               
to  broadband  for  rural  schools   for  several  reasons.  Many                                                               
districts  in  the  state  see  1)  the  use  of  technology  and                                                               
broadband with 2)  a high-quality teacher, in (3)  a classroom or                                                               
remotely,  as being  crucial  to  delivering quality  educational                                                               
opportunities to Alaska's children.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
He provided  a handout of  his presentation to the  committee and                                                               
said he is available for further questions.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HUGHES requested  his contact  information. She  noted the                                                               
committee's  desire to  hear the  broad range  of broadband  use,                                                               
from meaningful  successes to challenges.  She drew  attention to                                                               
written submissions from the  following school districts: Juneau,                                                               
Nome, Nenana, Bristol Bay, North Slope, and Hoonah.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:32:11 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair  Drummond adjourned  the joint  meeting of  the Senate  and                                                               
House Education Standing Committees at 9:32 a.m.                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
InternetAccessInAlaskaSchools2014+ConnectAlaskaRecommendations.pdf SEDC 2/6/2017 8:00:00 AM
Testimony Graphic.pdf SEDC 2/6/2017 8:00:00 AM
2.6.17 Joint Education Committee Broadband ASA.pdf SEDC 2/6/2017 8:00:00 AM