Posts Under: Ed Tech

FCC Exempts Emergency Mass Communications in School from TCPA

In a ruling earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarified that automated calls and texts to wireless phone numbers by a school are exempt from restrictions under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The ruling was an extension of the TCPA “emergency purpose” exemption to schools and utility companies. The updated rule provides a critical exemption for schools using mass communication technology, such as emergency text message systems, to contact students and parents. Prior to the ruling, it was unclear when a school needed to obtain prior written consent for automated communications. In this ruling, automated calls and text messages sent by a school to student family wireless phones under the “emergency purpose” exemption do not require prior express consent but must be limited to just situations “affecting the health and safety of the consumers.” Additionally, the FCC provided clarification that a parent&rs ...

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DoED’s #GoOpen Launch Wrongly Implies that All Digital Educational Resources Are Openly Licensed

The U.S. Department of Education initial launch packet of its #GoOpen initiative incorrectly leads the public to believe that the only way they can make the “transition to digital learning” is by using open educational resources. This will be news to the many school districts that have been using commercially developed digital instructional materials for years. Many of these digital commercial materials provide rich, digital-native content rather than simple PDFs or text on basic websites. Here are just a few of the many examples of digital commercial materials:

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The Too Often Hidden Cost of OER

A group of community colleges recently announced the launch of an initiative to develop or restructure some associate degree programs to utilize open educational resources (OER) in place of traditional textbooks. In part, the initiative is intended to address college affordability by reducing or eliminating the cost of instructional materials for students. In announcing this new initiative, the organization touted that the instructional materials would be free but seemed to gloss over the cost to develop and implement these OER and programs. In fact, it will initially cost $9.8 million. This tab will be picked up by a handful of philanthropic organizations directing the initiative, but one has to consider what will happen to these materials and programs when the money is gone. Will governmental entities suddenly pick up the cost to update the materials on a regular basis? Will institutions require their faculty to invest their own time in researching, reviewing, or sourcing these OE ...

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Protecting Student Data with Strong, Flexible Security Measures Is a Must

For educational agencies, institutions, and third-party service providers, protecting student information from unauthorized use or access is paramount. SIIA believes that every party handling student data should implement and maintain strong administrative, physical, and technical safeguards reasonably designed to protect the types of information they hold. For years, third-party service providers have been maintaining strong security measures for two big reasons. First, it is in the best interest of an education service provider to act in the best interest of students and schools, including by using information only for the educational purposes tasked with and maintaining strong security measures. The digital instructional materials and educational software industry is highly reputational. Success and failure is built not just on product efficacy and improving student outcomes but trust between providers and the students, schools, and parents they serve. Second, school service p ...

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Readorium Wins CODiE Award for Best Reading Instructional Solution

On May 18th, the 2016 CODiE winners were announced. We knew Readorium was a finalist in the Best Reading/English/Language Arts Instructional Solution category, but we also knew we were up against some very big, well-known programs. Readorium had never applied for a CODiE before, so the entire process was new to us. In fact, the story of Readorium's development, and what happened with the CODiE Awards, unfolded like a Cinderella fairy tale. 

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Greater State and Local Decision-making is the Right Choice

The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its authors have been clear since the law’s passage that greater autonomy in decision-making must be given to the states and local education agencies. Today the U.S. Department of Education announced that, in addition to its current negotiated rulemaking session, it will only begin regulatory processes in three more areas of the new law this year: 1.       State accountability systems and reporting

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Ice Cream & Digital Equity

If you’ve been anywhere near an ed tech conference or publication recently, you’ve been exposed to the phrase “digital equity.” CoSN just released a Digital Equity Action Toolkit. The toolkit describes the homework gap that is a consequence of the lack of high speed internet connections in high poverty areas.  Digital equity is one of the Alliance for Excellent Education’s primary issues. The Alliance’s Caroline Waldman blogged a thoughtful response to the February 22 New York Times article on the FCC’s recommendation to address the homework gap by updating Lifeline, a program that provides a discount on monthly phone service to eligible households, to include broadband access.

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Support SIIA Nominations for ESSA Rulemaking Committee

The U.S. Department of Education is in the early stages of developing regulations for implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act. As part of this process, the Department will convene a committee of stakeholders to develop negotiated rules on key pieces of the law, including assessments and supplement, not supplant rules.

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Learnings from LearnLaunch: A Look Behind Ed Tech Investment

What is behind the $3.5 million invested in ed tech in 2015? Victor Hu, Global Head of Education Technology and Services Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs, took the audience at LearnLaunch’s 4th Across Boundaries conference on a tour of that bubble. Here are some takeaways to keep in mind as you prepare for SxSWedu next month in Austin.

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Policymakers Should Not Restrict Additional Uses of Student Data

Parental consent is an important element in protecting student privacy.  Of course, as FERPA says, prior consent is not always required when student information is disclosed for the educational purposes of a school under the direction of the school. But the fully informed consent of parents also legitimizes additional uses of student information. When not directed by a school, should a student’s information be shared with potential colleges or employers? What about to a student’s tutor or a scholarship competition? It’s clear there are currently federal and increasingly state laws and regulations to ensure student's sensitive data is protected and used only for educational purposes. As some policymakers though have sought additional protections they have drafted legislation that would preclude parents from authorizing the use of their child's data for purposes restricted or not envisioned by the legislation. They shouldn't. If technology-enabled services a ...

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