St Paul Library to be computer lab prototype

Thanks to Ann Higgins for sending the good news from the library world. According to Kare 11

The St. Paul Public Library has been awarded a $100,000 grant to create special computer labs for middle and high school students that the funders hope will become national prototypes.

The plan is to get students creating, not just consuming content.

The grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Science and the MacArthur Foundation is to the St. Paul Public Library to plan and the design the labs.

The local library, the city and the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library will provide another $65,000 in in-kind support.

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting November 29, 2011 – Full Notes

Today I attended the first meeting for the third Minnesota Broadband Advisory Task Force. I’ve taken notes as best I could below. As usual I try not to attribute names to comments unless it’s unusually pertinent. The quick take on the meeting is that they will be working on the report for the Dec 30, 2011 deadline. That report will be high level and factual. It may be modeled after previous reports. At the next meeting they will be looking at the draft of the report and working to finalize.

The next meeting is penciled in for December 19 (10 am to 2 pm) at the Bloomington City Hall is available – otherwise at TIES.

Once the first report is complete the group will work on the January report, which is more of a potential roadmap for better broadband in the state. They plan to use subgroups as past Task Forces have done; they plan to visit outstate locations once weather permits.

Here are my full notes.

Agenda: 1. Greetings and Introductions 10:00 – 10:20

(You can get quick bios here – I just took notes on their other comments.)

Anderson Kelliher – When she was speaker she was familiar with high level work and work at MHTA works more closely with goals. Broadband is important to prosperity.

Wells – Heads up new BB Office – worked in telecommunications at State for 25 years

Hoffman – Connect MN – works on broadband development as well as maps

Ideker – works on telehealth in rural hospitals but also working with UMN on telehealth for many years. Worked with public/private VPN for rural networks.

Peterson – Councilmembers for 12 years and involved with National League of Cities and has been active in broadband on national level.

Ring – CenturyLink – 29 years in business – was in LaCrosse. Understand needs of rural markets

Lewsader – CWA – keenly aware of broadband efforts nationwide.

Sjoberg – ISP in rural area on original Task Force – has an interest in getting broadband in rural areas. Part of Impact 2020

Evans – ISP in SW MN. Interested in broadband as a community betterment tool. Seen what broadband can do to benefit a community.

MacKenzie – got involved in 1994. Has a boots on the ground perspective of a community without broadband

Grose – Deer River school – broadband is an equalizer for students in schools

Walz – former Task Force member, assisted original Task Force. Worked with MJTA to make Minnesota more globally competitive.

Richter – MVTV – an opportunity to tell his story better. Using wireless to serve rural areas – got ARRA funding. Advocate for co-ops.

Bass – AT&T – was on earlier Task Force. Has worked through several bell companies. The solution will be created with/by many providers.

Joselyn – from Grand Rapids. Representing the community perspective in rural areas. Recipient of ARRA broadband adoption funds.

Modglin – Ojibwe – we have clinics and schools that are still using satellite to access broadband.

Others in the room: Heather Rand, Ann Higgins, Dave Minke, Tony Mendoza, Mike Martin, Andy Schriener, Will Seifert, me

2. Review of Task Force Requirements (Diane Wells) 10:20 – 11:00

1. Executive Order

Here’s info on the report due on Dec 30:

By December 30, 2011, the task force shall inventory, assess and report on:

  1. The needs, barriers, issues and goals for broadband access
  2. The needs and use of broadband in Minnesota’s education systems, health care system, energy sector, industries and business, libraries, governmental operations, public safety and other key economic sectors
  3. Internet literacy
  4. Broadband accessibility for unserved and underserved populations
  5. Progress of the federal ARRA broadband projects and mapping in Minnesota
  6. Opportunities to coordinate with federal, state, and local agencies

Only a high level report is expected.

The January 30 report is probably more important. It will still need to be high level outline due to time constraints – but it should provide a pathway to accomplish goals:

The executive order says this about the Jan 30 report:

By January 31, 2012, the task force shall develop a Minnesota Broadband Plan outline, including strategies, tasks, action items and recommendations.

2. Legislative Review – Broadband Goals

The Legislative goals are: State broadband leadership position. It is a goal of the state that by 2015 and thereafter, the state be in: (1) the top five states of the United States for broadband speed universally accessible to residents and businesses; (2) the top five states for broadband access; and (3) the top 15 when compared to countries globally for broadband penetration.

A possible fourth issue is adoption rate. We can talk about whether we want adoption to be part of future reports. Right now the goals are focused on infrastructure and access, but not necessarily adoption.

Sometime in the next two weeks, Connect MN will have the most updated info of their reporting for adoption and deployment.

There is also a Feb 10 deadline – that is a statutory goal – up to the Department of Commerce, with support from the Task Force.

3. Open Meeting Law Overview [Ann’s note: I added link]

Need to promote sessions on web site. Department of Commerce will take care of most of the issues. These apply when group meets as a quorum. The law has not kept up with technology – so the Department will keep a print version of notes.

Potential Issues – in the past people have wanted closed online discussion boards but that would violate law. Any communication with Dianne or Bill could be made public if requested.

The Legislature is exempt for open meeting law.

The Open Meeting doesn’t mean you can’t talk about issues offline – we just need to be considerate of the potential of the quorum. This may come up at social settings.

Sub groups are possible but must include fewer than seven people are cannot meet as in a quorum. The Connect Minnesota site will be the official site for the Task Force.

3. Recommendations on How Best to Proceed 11:00 – 11:45

Task Force members got a roadmap on how to proceed – including [Ann’s note: I retyped a handout below]

  • 9/6/2011 – Announcement for BB Task Force
  • 11/7/2011 – Members appointed
  • 11/29/2011 Hold first meeting – intros, ovreview, tasks outlines. Task Force decides what to submit by Dec 30 2011 and Jan 31, 2012. Task Force Decides decides on how to prepare submissions. Suggested timeline/submission prep:
    • Dec 7 – any task force member wanting to submit content do so
    • Dec 13 – Diane & Bill take content submitted and draft to fill gaps to achieve the Executive Order, para 3 requirement at a high level
    • Dec 16 – Task force members submit edits/comments to Bill & Diane
  • 12/19/2011 – Hold second task force meeting. Review draft of Dec 30 submission. Allocate time to plan I more detail content and timeline for Jan 31, 2012.
  • 12/30/2011 – Report submitted per Executive Order
  • 1/10 & 1/24 – Task force meets to discuss and finalize MN Broadband Plan outline and reviews MN DOC’s proposed submission of achievement of broadband goals.
  • 1/31/2012 – MN Broadband Plan Outline (including strategies, tasks, action times, and recommendations) submitted)
  • 2/10/2012 – MN DOC submission to Legislature on achievement of broadband goals
  • Feb 2012 – Begin monthly meeting schedule
  • Regular (monthly) meetings – carry out plans/goals of task force

The idea is that we’d get a copy of the report due Dec 31 before the next meeting. It will really be an update of what’s been done in the past. The idea is that it’s better to meet deadlines with a less deep report than not meet them.

The January report will get more attention – but the schedule is ambitious.


The timeline makes sense. But do we know how big the report will be? 10 pages, 100 pages?

We think something shorter –more of a factual update. Compilations of research – not much original content.

We can use previous reports as models. The last report was more of a State of the State report.

The structure will be the executive order. There are some new areas (energy, public safety) but really the executive order will provide an outline.

Does anyone have a connection or friend with a connection that might be helpful? Please let Diane know – especially if there are any guests with skills to share.

So under healthcare – we might look for sources that might help flesh out this area.

Progress is already being made on the document.

Maybe Bill Hoffman can provide the group with a list of what areas Connect MN has covered. That might help determine holes.

There are two pieces of education (K12 & Higher Ed) so MNSCU will be able to cover some of this, Extension Service might be helpful.

The report talks about other key economic sectors – maybe we want to define those other areas. Are there some sectors we want to pull out?

It seems like everyone has a story – both of success and need. Maybe we could gather those.

Maybe out future meetings could include regional convening. There are several folks who are interested in the issue. It’s an opportunity to engage citizens and spur conversation.

How about addressing adoption rates?

Connect Minnesota has an adoption survey that could be used.

The group we can best benefit is the non-adopters. Right now folks not in need (high income, high edu) are the greatest adopters. There are programs out there – such as Comcast & CenturyLink have deals in some communities. Blandin has done good work and research on adoption.

Although some things are still in their infancy – so maybe a high level mention is enough right now.

Part of this is making policymakers aware of what’s happening and this is an opportunity to inform them.

There’s a lot of money and effort being spent in rural areas (ARRA and private) and more is being planned.It’s important to recognize that the problem is being solved – although maybe not as fast as we’d like. Improving the adoption will do more for society than a strict focus on deployment. We’ll want to record progress.

We could go through an update on the impact of ARRA. We can use Connected Nation stats to compare.

We do know that the more people adopt – the faster technology goes.

Private investment is also key here. If you pair it with stimulus – we probably touch most of Minnesota. Maybe we can pull out ag stats.

GreaterMSP and the Itasca Group have focused on 5 areas where they are going to focus their attention – maybe we can look at these too.

More on adoption rate – there’s a lot of research on health literacy and adoption rates. It might be worth considering that too.

The arts and culture resources have not been brought up either. Is technology being used to tie communities together?

When we did the last report there was a tight deadline. Maybe we want to save some of these ideas for the January report.

The Task Force in consultation with executive branch to see if a more in depth report makes sense for next year.

Will Seifert – on the State’s need

We are flexible. We’d like to encourage finding policy levers and education policymakers.

Q – what is the goal? The original report is to take a snapshot of where we are – especially with time constraints.

Commissioner Rothman is interested in these efforts and so Dianne will be working on this.

The Legislators from the area were invited – but they may be attending the meeting on the Vikings stadium

It’s good practice to invite policymakers and elected officials.

Any comments from the guests? Nope

How do we make decisions in the group? Consensus has been a good way. Although maybe we’ll want to vote on topics such as completed reports. It offers flexibility and agreement.

Does anyone have great concern about the time constraints? Nope.

4. Future Meeting Dates: Through January and Beyond 12:30 – 1:15 1. Meeting Dates 2. Potential Locations Handouts went to task force members.

Maybe we could try some free videoconferencing systems. A key is making sure that the room is set up well. Location – Dec 19 Bloomington or maybe TIES

Other possible locations: Grand Marais Winona Windom Duluth Rochester Mankato Bemidji Crookston Marshall

Might be nice to include tours of different industries

Maybe we could get a task team to choose locations – maybe a community engagement group

Lunch 11:45 – 12:30 1. Discussion on Information and Resources for Task Force 1:15 – 1:45

Brainstorm on Task Teams

Any special skills/presentations folks want to share to help educate everyone on different aspects broadband?

Steve Peterson will give a presentation next week.

Shirley has a lot of info from past Task Forces – is there a repository for such info? Some is on the web site. Maybe send to Diane & Bill.

Maureen could present on telehealth. There are some good resources too – Greater MN Rural Telehealth project. The Office of Rural Health tracks MN healthcare facilities and their technology.

Penetration is adoption. The FCC has a report that has some good data.

We should remember that acronyms will lose people – so using specific terms or spelling out terms may be helpful.

Dick Sjoberg has a video that might be helpful. A day made of glass – a glimpse of the future of how we will interact with technology:  It will make us realize how much broadband we’ll need for this to come to fruition. [Ann’s note: I added video embed]

The Microsoft Home of the future is another example of how much technology we’ll need.

There’s a fridge that will now email when it needs to be cleaned.

Do we have info on tribal broadband adoption & deployment?

The FCC has some info. The Harvard Native American group may have some data as well. Someone we can look Indian Affairs Department.

2. Other Business 1:45 – 2:00

MN Broadband Task Force meets tomorrow (Nov 29)

I just got the news. I plan to attend and will take notes as I have in the past. In the past the first meeting has been more about getting folks acquainted with one another and acquainted with Open Meeting and Data Practices rules. Because the deadline for action is so tight this time around (first report is due at the end of December), I don’t know how this meeting will go – but here are the details of the meeting and the agenda.

Meeting Location & Time:
The meeting will be held on November 29, 2011 from 10 AM – 2 PM at Bloomington City Hall, 1800 West Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington, MN in the Hay Conference Room, which is on the second floor. It is best to park by the Police side entrance on the west side of the building.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
Bloomington City Hall, 1800 West Shakopee Road
November 29, 2011
10 AM – 2 PM


  1. Greetings and Introductions 10:00 – 10:20
  2. Review of Task Force Requirements (Diane Wells) 10:20 – 11:00
    1. Executive Order
    2. Legislative Review – Broadband Goals
    3. Open Meeting Law Overview
  3. Recommendations on How Best to Proceed 11:00 – 11:45
  4. Lunch 11:45 – 12:30
  5. Future Meeting Dates: Through January and Beyond 12:30 – 1:15
    1. Meeting Dates
    2. Potential Locations
  6. Discussion on Information and Resources for Task Force 1:15 – 1:45
  7. Other Business 1:45 – 2:00

Steps for creating a digitally inclusive community from the IMLS

Last March, I wrote about the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) quest to determine the characteristics of a successful digitally inclusive community. This fall the IMLS released a proposed framework for digitally inclusive communities including the following 11 principles:

  • PRINCIPLE 1: Availability and affordability
  • PRINCIPLE 2: Public access
  • PRINCIPLE 3: Accessibility for people with disabilities
  • PRINCIPLE 4: Adoption and digital literacy
  • PRINCIPLE 5: Consumer education and protection
  • PRINCIPLE 6: Education
  • PRINCIPLE 7: Economic and workforce development
  • PRINCIPLE 8: Civic engagement
  • PRINCIPLE 9: Public safety and emergency services
  • PRINCIPLE 10: Health care
  • PRINCIPLE 11: Quality of life
  1. They also provide steps for creating a digitally inclusive community:
    Convene stakeholders
    Develop a shared community understanding of digital inclusion
    Create a community action plan
    Implement the plan
    Evaluate and revise the plan

Kids can’t drive a Model T on today’s highway

I just read an interesting article on Civic Caucus with Justin Treptow, head of the Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) out of Houston, MN. MNVA is a state approved on-line K12 school program; it’s one of the largest providers of public education delivered via the internet in Minnesota. They have more than 2,000 students. The article provides a glimpse at what online education entails.

To start, each student is expected to have a parent or other adult learning coach at home during their work day (6-7 hours a day, 5 days a week). Teachers will check in daily with learning coaches of younger students (K-5). Students in elementary through middle school are given computers and printer/scanner. They use Elluminate for the curriculum. Here’s what Treptow had to say about Elluminate…

The Elluminate platform allows students to communicate verbally with their teacher through the use of the students’ computer microphones and non-verbally through a chat window. Through the use of Elluminate, Skype, and email communication the teachers are able to conduct both class discussions and small group activities held in virtual “break-out rooms”. A student sitting at home in Fergus Falls can interact with other students through Elluminate by the use of the whiteboard, microphone, or chat line. In Elluminate teachers can use tools such as an on-line file transfer mechanism which allows the teacher to “pass out” materials during these live sessions. And all lessons are recorded so that students may re-visit the session later or catch up with work when classes are missed due to illness. Homework assignments are passed between student and teacher via email and online drop boxes. Science labs are conducted by teachers, transmitted via web-cam and recorded for future viewing. Even group projects are possible via email and chat lines. Pacing of learning varies from student to student, with some students learning much faster and in greater depth alongside others needing more time to master the basics.

It sounds as if they also try to schedule some face-to-face activities, which I think is great for students in the area. The school has been successful and they are expected to grow, assuming that students have the infrastructure they need to connect…

Treptow contends that the virtual school will continue to find growing acceptance as educational technology advances and as families come to recognize that jobs in the 21st century will require the kind of computer-centered skill that a virtual education provides. However, he cautioned that the state must continue to work on providing the necessary bandwidth in all areas of the state in order to assure that this kind of opportunity is available beyond the larger cities. He likened DSL/dial-up access to “driving a model-T in an Indy 500 race”; it puts outstate regions at a huge educational disadvantage. He also feels that much can still be done in the near future to advance the hardware in order to provide faster computing, automatic linkage to the Internet and real time browsing.

SW Minnesota fiber is ahead of schedule

Thanks to John Shepard for the heads up on a local article in the Jackson Pilot (correction – Cottonwood County Citizen) (Nov 23, 2011) that highlights latest broadband activity in Southwest Minnesota. The sound bite – they are cooking! According to the article Windomnet is six months ahead of schedule with fiber; they hope to get 1100 homes connected before the big winter freeze. It sounds as if Heron Lake and Lakefield are getting connected right now.

Also the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SMBG) is fine tuning their fiber to the home services and are hoping to test in the field as early as next week with a hope to getting families fully up and running by mid-December. Fiber services will offer triple play services (Internet, cable, TV).

SMBG is also testing some wireless options in the area and again hope to pilot some connections in the upcoming weeks. Wireless customers, however, will only have access to Internet services through their connection. A successful wireless product would open SMBG to quicker expansion. It sounds as if there are plenty of residents just outside the original fiber territory who have been clamoring for SMBG to come into their areas.

The article also points out that the project has had an economic impact on the area with up to 70 people doing installations at peak times; that number is expected to decrease to 30 once the ground freezes.

AT&T & T-Mobile not so thankful for FCC

AT&T and T-Mobile got another setback from the FCC this week. Mashable reports…

AT&T‘s proposed merger with T-Mobile has gotten a big thumbs down from the Federal Communications Commission. In a conference call with reporters, FCC officials said the agency has concluded that the proposed transaction would significantly diminish competition and results in an unprecedented concentration in the wireless industry.

This is the second significant blow to the proposed $39 billion merger. Back in August the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the deal. This FCC order essentially agrees with the DOJ. FCC officials said that if the DOJ prevails, its suggestion of a trial-like hearing would be moot.

The next step is a hearing before an administrative law judge that will, apparently, be very much like a typical trial and should include witnesses from both sides of the debate. The judge would deliver a decision on the merger, but that would not be the end of it. The judge’s decision would then be considered by the FCC commissioners.

Want to gauge the general public’s view of the setback? Check out the comments on the Mashable article. When I looked the only pro-merger comment I saw came from someone who was called out from another commenter for working at AT&T. It will be interesting to see if more industry views come through after the holidays.