Google Grants Promote Professional Development for Computer Science Teachers: deadline March 19

Keeping teachers on the cutting edge is a good way to keep students on the cutting edge of computer science education…

Grants Promote Professional Development for Computer Science Teachers from Google Computer Science for High School
Google Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) is an annual program dedicated to improving the computer science (CS) educational ecosystem by funding computer science education experts to provide exemplary CS professional development for teachers. The funding focuses on three major growth areas for teacher professional development in CS: facilitating the development and delivery of content that increases teachers’ knowledge of computer science and computational thinking, allowing providers to customize learning content to meet local needs and the sharing of best practices for engaging all students, and addressing the building of communities of practice that continue to support teacher learning throughout the school year. Research institutions, universities, and educational nonprofit organizations such as professional development organizations, school districts, and local offices of education are eligible to propose professional development opportunities for their local school teachers. The application deadline is March 19, 2017. Visit the CS4HS website to submit an online application.

Lt. Gov Tina Smith, Dep of Ed Announce State Grants to Help Greater MN Students get brooadband at home & on buses

Good news for 12 school districts…


Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Department of Education Announce State Grants to Help Greater Minnesota Students Access High-Speed Internet

Twelve school districts across Minnesota receive grant funding to expand wireless internet access

Grants will allow districts to help students access the internet at home and on long bus rides

Over 30 districts applied for the grants, highlighting the significant need for rural high-speed internet access

ST. PAUL, MN – Lt. Governor Tina Smith and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius today announced new state grants that will help 12 school districts provide students with the high-speed internet connections needed to complete homework and access other online learning opportunities. Without this funding, these students would lack access to reliable high-speed internet, putting them at a competitive disadvantage with their urban peers. The grants awarded today will be used to provide students wireless access at home and while riding the school bus.

“Too many Minnesota students are on the wrong side of the digital divide. These grants will help level the playing field for students in Greater Minnesota by providing them the same educational opportunities as their friends and family in the cities,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Governor Dayton and I will continue advocating for high speed, affordable, reliable internet access until all Minnesota students and families are connected.”

Lake of the Woods School District, which received grant funding, reports that students spend more than two hours a day riding the bus to and from school. Students participating in extracurricular activities often have even longer bus rides. This experience is common for students in rural districts across Greater Minnesota.

The new grant funding will allow districts to equip buses with wireless hotspots, enabling students to complete homework while commuting. The funding also will be used to purchase wireless hotspots, data cards, and other mobile broadband devices that students will be able to check out for use at home.

“Technology is a part of Minnesota classrooms. If we want all students to be successful, we need to make sure we are providing them the tools they need,” said Commissioner Cassellius. “Where a student lives and their family income should not determine whether they are able to complete their schoolwork or not.”

In 2016, the Dayton-Smith Administration worked with the Minnesota Legislature to invest $500,000 in grants for school-based high-speed internet. These grants are designed to expand broadband access to students across Minnesota, with priority given to applicants demonstrating a combination of students from low-income families and with long bus routes. Low-income homes with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than their middle or upper-income counterparts, according to the Pew Research Center.

Given the limited funding, only 12 of the 33 applicants were awarded funding – highlighting the ongoing need for investment in rural high-speed internet. Of the 12 districts receiving funding, 11 are in Greater Minnesota. The legislation capped the grants at $50,000 per district.

See a list of school districts awarded broadband grants below.

School District Broadband Grant Award
Deer River School District $39,267
Fertile-Beltrami School District $41,922
Lake of the Woods School District $49,840
Lake Superior School District $50,000
McGregor School District $46,500
Pine City School District $44,831
Princeton School District $44,916
Rothsay School District $46,500
Shakopee School District $34,574
St. Cloud School District $40,546
Thief River Falls School District $30,484
Tracy School District $30,620
Total: $500,000

Digital Learning Day in February 23 – tools to help plan

Just wanted to share this for teachers, digital inclusion folks and any of us who might want to plan…

Digital Learning Day 2017 is right around the corner! On February 23, 2017, teachers and students from around the country will participate in the nationwide celebration highlighting great teaching and demonstrating how technology can improve student outcomes. Will you join them?

Interested, but not sure what to do? Visit our interactive lesson plans page for ideas and inspiration.

If you’re planning to participate, add your event to our map! Then visit our graphics page to help spread the word about your event.

Add Your Event

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)

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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.