Infrastructure

Essential actions to ensure technology infrastructure, assets, and guidance support an organized transition to classroom instruction.

Do When Schools are Open and Operating

  • Continue infrastructure evaluations until all issues are resolved. 

Digital Equity Outreach Month

As a means to support the timely collection and reporting of the data, as well as celebrate successes already achieved, Digital Equity Outreach Month is set for September. The NDE is encouraging schools to take action by directly connecting with families, to understand and support their home digital access needs.

 

Efforts are underway to support the collection of high quality data sets about home Internet access and to urge schools to move forward with collecting this data as part of the return to school and Digital Equity Outreach Month.

 

This information collected will enable education leaders to:

  • Understand the impact that home digital access has on learning outcomes
  • Target available resources to students in need of access
  • Determine the most effective connectivity solutions
  • Assess options for state and federal funding to close the digital (Homework) gap
  • Meet emerging Federal CARES Act reporting requirements

 

To support action this month, the NDE co-hosted a webinar on September 17, 2020 to review the data elements and resources available. EducationSuperHighway (ESH), shared tools and resources to support school districts with addressing connectivity challenges, including a Home Access Needs Assessment Playbook.

 

View the September 17, 2020 webinar recording at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RNFbHbZovY and the webinar slide deck here: https://www.launchne.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/K-12-Digital-Equity-Month-Nebraska.pdf.

Background

Schools across the nation are attempting to understand the true scope and nature of the home access gap and data collection is a critical first step in addressing this challenge. School districts in Nebraska need to collect data that moves from understanding the estimated percentage of students without adequate access to the Internet to understanding which students do not have access and what the service options are for these students. To this end, many schools have been working to gather information on student home Internet access already as part of the registration and enrollment processes for the 2020-21 school year.

 

The question of student home Internet access has become critical for schools to plan strategies for continuous learning. Schools have varying levels of confidence in their understanding of the true levels of access to the Internet their students have. This is partially due to the fact that this information is often collected via home surveys which may be anonymous or response rates are so low that they are not representative of the school or district population. Additionally, because of the inherently technical nature of questions surrounding Internet access, the answers families provide may not be entirely accurate.

Data Elements and SIS Updates

The NDE has communicated a list of the new Digital Equity data elements to be collected through ADVISER and has worked with the Student Information Systems (SIS) vendors to include the data elements that support collecting and reporting the data as well. The data elements to report are provided at the bottom of this message and the certification status of SIS vendors is available at https://www.education.ne.gov/dataservices/2020-2021-adviser-vendor-certification/.

Digital Equity Data Elements

Note: See the original NDE Bulletin item on August 12, 2020 for a list of these elements, also available on the ADVISER Resources website.

Survey Question

Response Options

Can the student access the internet on their primary learning device at home?
  • Yes
  • No – Not Available
  • No – Not Affordable
  • No – Other
What is the primary type of internet service used at the residence?
  • ResidentialBroadband (e.g., DSL, Cable, Fiber)
  • CellularNetwork
  • SchoolProvidedHotSpot
  • Satellite
  • Dial-up
  • Other
  • None
Can the student stream a video on their primary learning device without interruption?
  • Yes – No issues
  • Yes – But not consistent
  • No
What device does the student most often use to complete school work at home?
  • Desktop/Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Chromebook
  • SmartPhone
  • None
  • Other
Is the primary learning device a personal device or school-provided? Is the primary learning device shared with anyone else in the household?
  • Personal – Dedicated (one person per machine)
  • Personal – Shared (sharing among others in household)
  • School Provided – Dedicated
  • School Provided – Shared
  • None

Request for Information (RFI)

The Nebraska Department of Education is initiating this Request for Information (RFI) and invites qualified Nebraska service providers to submit availability and pricing that can provide broadband Internet service for educational purposes to un/under-served residences of K-20 students and teachers in the State of Nebraska at an affordable price.  Broadband services will be for educational purposes, through either month-to-month or annual contracts and will be available for contract by any or all of the following:

  • Nebraska Department of Education
  • Educational Service Units
  • Network Nebraska
  • Local Schools and School Districts
  • Individual student or teacher homes

There is no guarantee that any service will be purchased, or for what length of time.  This is simply a pricing and availability guarantee between the vendor and the customer who finds the service offered adequate and affordable to meet the broadband needs of the individual or entity.

The outcome will be a catalog of providers and services available based on location around the state for customer use.

 

Request for Information (RFI) Q & A

  1. We already have a cooperative purchasing agreement with exceptional pricing in place … should we simply include reference to that existing option as our RFI response?
    • The service order will most likely be between residential customers and the vendor.  In some cases a school/district or other agency might provide some funding.  If the agreement will apply to student use in the home, you may include that agreement and any other pricing offers that apply statewide or regionally to various sections of the state.
  2. One of your proposed mandatory terms, “No data caps or monthly limits on the amount of data will be applied during the term of the contract, and the service must be available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.” …  Is this a *requirement* or a preference?  If we clearly state the terms associated with our plan submission, is that sufficient?
    • We are asking for no data caps to students for educational use so that the cost of the service to a residential customer does not vary during the contract period.  We do not know how much time will be needed for student work which may include video conferencing and may include video conferencing by several students in the household.
  3. We would likely *also* want to respond to the Public-Private partnership section, should that be a separate response or included in the same response as current commercial offerings via existing networks?
    • We expect that this section will take some deep conversations and planning, so a general overview of ideas or intent will suffice to begin the conversation.  The reply can be included in the online form, or noted in the form that a separate response will be sent.
  4. Could the State please clarify the following requirement: “Provide modem and other connectivity equipment at no cost to the end-user.” Does the State intend for providers to invoice the Nebraska Department of Education, rather than the end-user, or does the State intend for providers to provide modems and connectivity equipment free-of-charge?
    • This statement intends to provide the customer with no surprise charges beyond what is listed in the pricing catalog. The ultimate goal is to provide a monthly pricing option that includes all costs for comparison and planning across providers. The intention of this requirement is to eliminate costs for connection equipment and/or eliminate ongoing separate monthly rental fees.  A base assumption that all providers would use to establish pricing options.  If there is a cost, ongoing or one time, it would be expected the provider would include that cost in the monthly rate.

Online Request for Information (for vendors)

https://www.education.ne.gov/internet-for-education/

Nebraska State Broadband Map

https://broadbandmap.nebraska.gov

 

Interactive Map on Rural Broadband

https://maps.ruralopportunitymap.us/broadband-access-map

 

Education Broadband Spectrum Project, Northeast Nebraska

(as presented to the Rural Broadband Task Force 9/11/2020)

The project utilizes Tribal access to licenses for the 2.5 GHz EBS spectrum.  The project is set up as an educational broadband wireless project so that all K-12 and NICC’s (Nebraska Indian Community College) students within the boundaries of the Omaha and Santee Reservations gain access and maintain access to the internet for remote and other learning opportunities. Umonhon Nation, Bancroft Rosalie, Walthill, Pender and Santee are the base station locations and will maintain internet connectivity.  The students at each of the schools have the capability to utilize no cost internet services.  The schools provide the installation and their end user equipment for their students.  Project planning began in March/April 2020 and as of Sept 2020 base stations have been installed, operational, and passing traffic.  Additional tower work and signal enhancements are in progress