Want to be a gamer when you grow up? Here’s a MN resource to help.

It feels like “I want to be a gamer when I grow up” is a little bit like “I want to be an actor, firefighter or astronaut.” Yes – someone does grow up to become those things but for most, it’s impractical. Unless you have the support to help you hone the skills and lead the way.

Well, Minnesota has such a resource, a nonprofit called Glitch and they were recently featured in Duluth New Tribune

Headquartered on the University of Minnesota’s west bank, Glitch helps incipient game designers create, develop and publish games. The organization has helped designers throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.

They have a number of opportunities to learn…

Glitch offers weekly events and has larger educational programs throughout the year. Its two-week Immersion program, occurring in January, takes a group of 20 people and asks them to stay awhile and listen — a joke any gamer should instantly get — as professionals educate them on a game development topic from start to finish. A past program resulted in an augmented reality game for the Minnesota Historical Society called Play the Past.

And they have the number indicating that there’s work to be had…

And there’s certainly money to be made. Video games have become a $16.8 billion revenue industry in the U.S. and generated $79.7 billion worldwide last year, according to the International Trade Administration. U.S. revenues are projected to increase by another $3 billion by 2019.

And Minnesota has at least a toehold in the industry…

Though the U.S. video game industry is generally established in California, Minnesota makes notable contributions. Game Informer magazine, a monthly video game publication, is based in Minneapolis and has a circulation of 6.3 million, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Entrepreneurship needs fostering AND broadband such as Red Wing Ignite

Clearly I’ve been wrestling with recent research indicating that rural counties with better broadband do not also have greater levels of entrepreneurship.

I get it and I think it has a lot to do with jobs but I just so firmly believe that it’s pre-broadband job mentality getting in the way of broadband economic opportunities. Jobs are right for some people but broadband should open the door to other choices.

I thought about that when I read about Lt Governor Tina Smith’s visit to Red Wing Ignite in the Red Wing Republican Eagle

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited with Red Wing Ignite representatives and toured the building Thursday as part of her “87 Counties in 86 Days” tour.

Red Wing has FTTH. That’s great but more importantly I think Red Wing Ignite is helping local businesses and residents learn about the opportunities…

Adkisson, an Ignite board member, explained the organization’s mission to help Red Wing on the map, in the state and nationally, as an “entrepreneurial spirit community.”

“An entrepreneur myself for the last 40 years as a business owner, there’s not a lot of support for our dream,” he said. “So, we thought what we needed to do was go after support for entrepreneurs so that they have the best opportunity to build a business and not just take their dreams and watch them fail.” …

Smith said she was impressed by the organization’s community-wide collaborations to foster talent, workforce and access to capital.

“You can just see what can be accomplished when you’ve got the kind of collaboration that is happening here in Red Wing,” she said. “They are creating a real physical and virtual ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the region and in this community with Red Wing Ignite, and that’s really exciting.”

It will be interesting to see the impact of the programming on business starts, jobs and economic development in the future.

Great apps, lessons and relationships coming from Hack2o in Willmar MN

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Hack2o in Willmar. There were 20 some guys who met to code. The event started with a dinner and ideation on Friday. The attendees were mostly students – the youngest was 9th grade, there were a few from Ridgewater College, a few from St Cloud State, a few recent graduates and a handful of folks from the work field.

Saturday we gathered again – more brainstorming, selection of projects, got into teams and took off. We started with a list of 5 topics. By 9:30 some ready-make solutions had been found for some those topics so some new ones got added. The teams mostly worked on their focus projects but there was some crossover help too.

I have PowerPoints and videos of the presentations that each team gave so you can get the details there. They came up with some cool things. But from an engaged observer, it was fun to see everyone work together and learn something new. On the first day we asked everyone what they wanted to learn – my favorite answer was socialization! That being said, it was a very collegial group.

On a typical team, one guy knows the server environment, one guy knows graphics and someone else knows everything in between and not only does everyone bring a talent, they really teach everyone else at least a little bit about how the best tools of their trade. Or maybe the whole team is taking on a new tool – then there’s one person driving while the others are looking up solutions on Google. In fact someone pointed out that over the weekend there was a lot of trial and error and about a billion Google searches.

These guys work late and get up early to start it all over again. We heard from Jennie-o about what they look for in IT staff. (Experience with legacy software is a plus!) It would have been a good opportunity for more employers to come check out the local talent. (That’s a hint for anyone who does hire IT staff – look for local hacks!) And it would have been nice to have a few women show up. We’ll have to work on that for next year.

Otherwise it was a great weekend, meeting a great group or guys and be really impressed with their processes and projects. The hack was hosted by Ridgewater College, MinnWest, Kandiyohi County EDC, Work Up (local coworking space), Blandin Foundation and RITA Consortium.

I think you can find contact info for the attendees on their PPTs below – but (especially if you are employer) I can help you track down someone if need be.)

(*note I am missing one video and will add it ASAP)

Continue reading

Grand Meadow School District get $115,000 from USA for distance learning

Good news from the USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing in 18 projects in 16 states to use communications technology to expand access to health care, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities.

And that includes one project from Minnesota

Grand Meadow Independent School District 495 receives $115,692 to replace telecommunications equipment to enhance academic services available to rural students. More than 2,700 students are expected to benefit from this interactive video conferencing project.

Grow2Gig+ Webinar Series Sep 22: The First Steps in Creating a Broadband Plan

Wanted to share info on an upcoming SHLB webinar series to help community anchor institutions gear up for better broadband…

We’re very excited to announce the beginning of our Grow2Gig+ webinar series! Over the next five months, we’ll be exploring different ways to help schools, libraries, health clinics, and other anchor institutions Grow2Gig+ speeds, starting with The First Steps in Creating a Broadband Plan. Follow the hashtags #Grow2Gig and #BroadbandPlan for tips and information. Also, feel free to tweet your own stories and questions.

This month, we’ll be covering the necessary steps cities and states need to create a broadband plan with the paper “Broadband Needs Assessment and Planning for Community Anchor Institutions.” Then we’ll discuss the more technical aspects anchor institutions need to know about WiFi and Wireless connections to prepare a broadband plan with the paper “WiFi and Wireless Networking for Community Anchor Institutions.”

This month we are kicking off the Grow2Gig+ Webinar Series! The first webinar will be held:

September 22, 2016
11 am – 12 pm EST

It will be moderated by John Windhausen (SHLB Coalition) and feature Kelleigh Cole (Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development) and Jeff Campbell (Cisco). Space is limited so register now!

Have a question you’d like answered during the webinar? Email or tweet it to us @SHLBCoalition.

September 13, 2016, is ConnectED Day with programming for educators

I wanted to share this info I received from the Alliance for Excellent Education. Looks like a great day for educators, which I always think means parents too. I will actually be doing the last minute runaround for the MN Fall Broadband Conference that starts the same day but I will try to at least follow on Twitter…

Join us on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, for ConnectED Day to celebrate the three-year anniversary of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative.

ConnectED Day recognizes the progress made to connect students to high-speed broadband and help educators and leaders build their capacity to transform learning with technology.

On ConnectED Day, several education organizations will host webinar discussions, Twitter chats, or blog on topics aligned with the ConnectED and the Future Ready Schools® (FRS) initiatives.

FRS is proud to support the effective use of technology in America’s classrooms. Several FRS tools, including a comprehensive interactive Planning Dashboard, a new one-stop Hub for district leaders’ ongoing professional learning activities, and in-person summits and workshops, are available at no cost and can be found at www.futureready.org.

Explore the growing list of ConnectED Day events, share with your colleagues, and join us online for ConnectED Day on September 13.

Please help spread the word on social media by sharing the following with your networks.


What’s the cost per MB of broadband for a school? $0.73, $11 or $58 depending

MSBA Capitol Connections recently ran an article from Marc Johnson of ECMECC – he has done guest posts here too. Marc knows broadband, education and rural – maybe better than he wants to know it!

He took a look at what schools pay for broadband…


  • The cost per Megabit (Mb) of Internet access for Anoka-Hennepin schools is $0.73. The district purchases 10Gb or 10,000Mb to serve their staff and nearly 38,000 students. The cost is $7,252 per month. That equates to $2.31 per student per year — or about 0.04 percent of the basic general education formula aid provided by the state.

  • In Braham, less than 50 miles north of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the cost per Mb is $11, which is still $2 below the state average. The Braham Area School District purchases 100Mb to serve their 839 students which equates to $16.16 per student per year — or about 0.2 percent of the formula aid.

  • In west-central Minnesota, the Herman-Norcross School District spends $58 per Mb of Internet access. They purchase 45Mb for their staff and 92 students at an average cost of $2,610 per month. The cost per student per year is $340.43 — or about 5.5 percent of their formula aid.

The difference is shocking! You can read his article for a more eloquent elaboration on how and why it’s shocking, I’ll cut right to the chase and share his recommendations to help schools get better broadband at a rate they can afford…

So, what can we do about this? I suggested the following possibilities to the Task Force.

  • Fully fund the state Telecommunications Equity Aid program. It would cost $7 million per year (an increase from $3.75 million per year to $10.75 million per year) to fully fund Internet access in Minnesota schools for the next five years or more. This program is intended to help equalize telecommunications costs for schools, but now covers only about 40 percent of the cost (after E-rate) leaving a large gap for the schools where costs are highest.

  • Continue to support the E-rate program which provided more than $47 million in funding to Minnesota schools in 2015.

  • Support increased competition among providers (or incentives). We know competition drives down prices.

  • Support economies of scale. While most Minnesota school districts buy Internet access as part of a cooperative, there are opportunities for the cooperatives to work together along with the state to find additional savings.

  • Support the Border to Border grant program and other rural broadband initiatives. While schools themselves can get the access they need, many of our students still cannot.