Free Live Streamed Music Classes from MacPhail

Today’s happy news brought to you by broadband is free classes for K12 students in Minnesota. Here’s the news from MacPhail Center for Music

Live Streamed Music Education for K-12 Students offered at no cost to families.

MacPhail Center for Music School Partnerships is pleased to provide custom designed online music instruction for students studying at home. Offered in collaboration with the Minnesota Music Educators Association and Perpich Center for Arts Education.

The program also provides resources for music educators and parents to assist with online and distance music education.

MacPhail K-12@Home is offered at NO CHARGE to students currently enrolled in Minnesota schools thanks to generous funding from the Otto Bremer Trust and other individual donors.

What is MacPhail K-12@Home Program?

  • MacPhail faculty use specially designed curriculum and teaching materials to lead students through fun, engaging explorations of music.

  • Classes reflect a wide range of styles, genres and cultures that build on a student’s own creativity and artistry.

  • MacPhail’s school partnership faculty share a decade’s worth of experience teaching music live online. A wide range of resources assists music educators or parents new to live online music education and distance learning. Resources are provided for educators working with students who do not have access to the internet.

Who is eligible for MacPhail K-12@Home Classes?

Children and Youth grades K through 12 currently enrolled in Minnesota schools.  (Some classes may require prior music learning & expertise.)

Music educators or parents homeschooling during shelter in place.

What do you need to participate in a class?

Students will need a computer (desktop, Chromebook, laptop, iPad, smart phone) and a reliable internet connection.

*Please see eLearning resource list for resources and ideas for students without internet access.

How do I sign up?

1 – Review course descriptions

2 – Click register and complete information

3 – Once you’ve registered you will receive a Zoom link sent to your email address

4 – All you need to do at the designated class time is click on the link (Make sure to do this a few minutes ahead of each class. The first time you use zoom, allow extra time.)

5 – You may register for as many classes as you wish

How MN’s Paul Bunyan’s made broadband possible for many students

Love to share this remark from the letter to the editor from Kenneth Perreault, District Technology Coordinator for Red Lake Schools in the Bemidji Pioneer

When we found out that our students may not be back anytime soon, I gave Paul Bunyan a call and asked if they could help in any way. Within minutes we came up with a plan in conjunction with the tribe to place wireless outside of all our major buildings including some community centers. This allows for people who need internet to drive into our parking lots, connect with one click and they have internet access they may not have had before.

This was all accomplished in record speed; for a company going through this crisis just like the rest of us, they have stepped up in a major way to help support our communities. To Paul Bunyan we send you our sincerest thanks. You are truly a company made of community and serving the community

Webinar Archive: Broadband and Education in the Time of Coronavirus

Thanks to the presenters and attendees of today’s webinar on what we’re doing in Minnesota to set up families and students to be successful during the coronavirus slow down. Here’s the description and links to speakers:

Schools are going online. Are your students prepared? Are your schools prepared? How can schools create digital equity quickly while planning for the future? In this webinar, we’ll talk about access to devices, making broadband affordable, and plans to extend broadband in the short and long term with an eye toward what you can do now and what you should be thinking about moving forward.


And finally the live chat during the session: Continue reading

What are local communities doing to get infrastructure to kids for online learning?

MinnPost reports on what’s happening with schools moving to remote and/or online education, in terms of capacity for local households…

Households that lack a reliable internet connection — or any connection, at all — pose an added challenge to distance learning. Rural districts have long lobbied state lawmakers to help close gaps in broadband availability that disproportionately impact their communities. Now, faced with an unprecedented ask — to prepare distance learning plans to allow students to complete their studies from home as the COVID-19 pandemic runs its course, if need be — rural districts are troubleshooting ways to immediately expand internet access to all student households.

This Friday marks the end of a statewide eight-day school closure that Gov. Tim Walz announced as part of an executive order earlier this month, giving school administrators, teachers and staff a student-free chunk of time to work out the details involved in delivering lessons remotely in the event of an extended school closure — a possibility that’s sounding more and more likely.


They take a look at what’s happening in school districts across the state. In Blue Earth…

Fletcher says her district surveyed families a couple of years ago and found that about 95 percent of its families self-reported some type of internet access, whether through broadband, fiber, or a mobile hotspot. The district also purchased a batch of mobile hotspots to check out to families in need.

In recent years, the local internet company BEVCOMM has done a good job of expanding its footprint, she adds. And it has stepped up during the COVID-19 crisis by offering districts a $3,000 donation to support the purchase of additional Wi-Fi hotspots for distribution, and by offering discounted broadband rates to low-income families.

“We purchased an additional 10 mobile hotspots,” Fletcher said, noting they’ll “be distributed to families that still do not have internet access.”

On the Iron Range…

School districts located across the Iron Range are looking to expand internet access to families currently without through the purchase and distribution of hotspot devices as well, says Steve Giorgi, executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools.

In preparation to support online work as they roll out distance learning plans (potentially starting next week), the Hibbing Public Schools district purchased 500 hotspot devices from AT&T, he says.

In other communities, school leaders he’s in communication with say they’re looking at ways to strengthen the bandwidth at sites that are already connected — like banks and grocery stores — to create a hotspot around those facilities.

And the Mountain Iron-Buhl Public Schools district had already outfitted its school buses with WiFi, prior to the pandemic, he says. They might consider parking their buses in various locations “to create hotspots that way.”

In Warroad…

For students in the Warroad Public Schools district, access to a device doesn’t pose a barrier to online distance learning. Two years ago, the district invested in becoming a one-to-one district.

But as more and more businesses ask their employees to work remotely, following social distancing guidance from state leaders and public health experts, Superintendent Shawn Yates says he and his team are staying mindful of the fact that “there’s only so much bandwidth” to go around.

“To that end, we’re trying to adjust a little bit, as far as our [distance learning] plan,” he said. “So we’re not doing a great deal of live streaming of lessons. In other words, there’s not a particular time that a teacher will be online hosting some kind of a chat with direct delivery to our students.”

In Foley…

Paul Neubauer, superintendent of Foley Public Schools, says he and his educators have explored the flipped lesson option — where a teacher records a lesson that’s downloaded to a device for a student to watch later on — as well. But if students still aren’t allowed to come on site, even if it’s just to wipe old lessons off of their device and download new ones, this workaround becomes a bit more cumbersome, he says.

Technically, Foley isn’t a one-to-one district. But so far the school has been able to equip nearly 200 families with a laptop for students’ use at home. For now, the district is prioritizing students in grades 4-12. If possible, they’ll extend the device distribution to younger students a bit later.

In Westbrook-Walnut Grove…

In the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Schools district, Superintendent Loy Woelber says they’re planning for monthly packets to be used to deliver distance learning at the elementary level.

Older students in one school community are operating at a one-to-one device capacity. For their classmates in the two other school communities served by his consolidated district, he thinks they’ll be able to get at least one device into the homes of each family with school-aged children that’s currently lacking a device to work on at home.

Even after taking measures to eliminate or reduce the hardware barriers to online learning, he’s concerned about things like weak connections — the sort of thing that’s already made conference calls with staff that needed to stay home this week hard to understand — and students relying on cellphones to complete their school work on.


UofM Extension finds ways to make distancing fun and/or productive

All U of M Extension staff members across the state are being asked to work at home. (They are finding that some have an easier time with better broadband than others.) But leave it to these guys to make the most of the opportunity.

I wanted to share their recent newsletter, written by Extension Educator Angela Gupta; highlights ways Minnesotans can take a few cleansing moments of fresh Spring area and resources for exploring our outdoors to revive and refresh ourselves.

Here are some of the highlights…

Social Distancing in Nature
You’re trying to do the right thing and maintain an appropriate social distance. Check out these nature based activities for within your home and yard.

The Two for You
Stress Series brings you tangible practices you can do today to improve your wellbeing. Each video also includes resources and research links.

OK this is my favorite so I’m going to include a few videos..

And something for kids…

Youth Project Ideas
Check out the many resources and lessons available through 4-H for your youngsters who are home right now.


Community Use of E-Rate-Supported Wi-Fi is Permitted During Closures

This came up on a call today and will hopefully make it even easier for libraries and schools that are closed to keep their wifi networks open  to support local residents who don’t have access at home.

The FCC reports

By this Public Notice, the Wireline Competition Bureau reminds schools and libraries that are closed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak that they are permitted to allow the general public to use E-Rate-supported Wi-Fi networks while on the school’s campus or library property.  Specifically, libraries may offer access to E-Rate funded services on their premises as well as services that are “integral, immediate and proximate to the provision of library services to library patrons”[1]—and because the mission to serve the public is ongoing, libraries are permitted to allow the public to access E-Rate funded services even when they are closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Similarly, closed schools may allow access to E-Rate funded services “to community members who access the Internet while on a school’s campus” so long as they do not charge for the use of the service.[2]  We hope

that this reminder will promote connectivity to Americans impacted by the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

We leave it to individual schools and libraries to establish their own policies regarding use of their Wi-Fi networks during closures, including hours of use.[1]  And we remind all parties that health and well-being are paramount, and to follow any applicable health and safety guidelines, including those on social distancing, as may be set out by relevant federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities.

For further information, please contact Joseph Schlingbaum, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, at (202) 418-7400 or (202) 418-0829 (TTY), or at


[1] Cf. id., 25 FCC Rcd at 18775-76, para. 25 (finding that “the decision about whether to allow community access rests with the school, and we thus leave it schools to establish their own policies regarding specific use of their services and facilities, including, for example, the hours of use”); id. at 18776-77, para. 27 (“We emphasize that the revision of our rules [to allow community use of school’s E-Rate funded services] creates an opportunity for schools, but not an obligation.”).

[1] 47 CFR § 54.500.

[2] See Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism, Sixth Report and Order, WC Docket No. 02-6, 25 FCC Rcd 18762, 18775-76, paras. 25-26 (2010) (E-Rate Sixth Report and Order).  Additionally, schools that choose to allow the community to use their E-Rate funded services “may not request funding for more services than are necessary for educational purposes to serve their current student population.”  Id. at 18775, para. 24.

Rural Minnesota needs better broadband for students and workers to be productive

KNSI Radio reports…

Last week, Governor Tim Walz pulled the plug on $30 million dollars for rural broadband funding and reallocated it to the fight against COVID-19. Nathan Zacharias, with the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, says broadband internet funding should be considered an essential service.

“We’re going to see more pressure and more stress with the COVID-19 outbreak. And that’s putting pressure and stress on all our institutions, and it’s going to show that, really, broadband is no different than some of the other basic services that people need.”

The coalition estimates that 17% of Minnesotans lack broadband access. Zacharias says that means students won’t have access to lesson plans.

And makes the point that broadband would help workers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic…

Steve Grove heads the Department of Employment and Economic Development and says while they continue to push lawmakers to provide emergency assistance to businesses and their employees, they hope companies will be mindful of staff members put in tight situations. Some people he says won’t be able to check or send important e-mails, in addition to missing out on video conferences.

“We know that employers are already demonstrating extraordinary creativity during this time of crisis, and we ask that they continue to be collaborative and creative and help parents navigate school closures.”

That could include providing flexibility to workers who don’t have the capability or technology to work from home.

Education Commissioner Mary Catherine Ricker says the state isn’t just accommodating for a couple of snow days. They need to think about the long term.