iPads Allow Kids With Challenges To Play In High School’s Band

There’s a steady stream of hype surrounding the pluses and pitfalls of classroom tablet computers. But for a growing number of special education students tablets and their apps are proving transformative. The tablets aren’t merely novel and fun. With guidance from creative teachers, they are helping to deepen engagement, communication, and creativity.

In a typical red brick public school building in the Fresh Meadows section of Queens, New York, one creative and passionate music instructor is using tablet computers to help reach students with disabilities. In the process, he’s opening doors for some kids with severe mental and physical challenges.

On the surface, the PS 177 Technology Band looks like a typical high school orchestra. But there are two big differences. First, while they use traditional instruments, they also play iPads. And all of the band members have disabilities. Some have autism spectrum disorders.

iPads Allow Kids With Challenges To Play In High School’s Band

FCC to Launch Rural Broadband Trials

For years, small broadband providers have been locked out of the Connect America Fund, which is supposed to support broadband service in hard-to-reach areas. Now rural groups are a step closer to getting access to some of that funding — if enough of them ask for it.
By Tim Marema, Daily Yonder
Small Internet providers that have been trying to tap federal funds to serve hard-to-reach rural customers are going to get a crack at some of that money, but their first step will be convincing the Federal Communications Commission there’s demand for the funding.
Last week the FCC voted to launch an experimental program to allow surplus from the Connect America Fund to go to rural broadband providers that hadn’t previously been eligible for the support. The money will pay for pilot projects to help the FCC learn what approaches work best for expanding broadband service in rural areas.
How much money will go into the pilot projects? The FCC hasn’t decided yet. And here’s the catch: The commission is going to wait to see how many broadband providers are interested in the new source of support before they determine the overall funding for the experiment.
“I think if we see a big expression of interest, we’ll set a bigger budget,” said Jonathan Chambers, the chief of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. “We’ve got to hear from folks first, and I think we will. … But if we don’t hear anything, we’ll learn something.”
Clockwise from top left: Connie Stewart, Wally Bowen, Edyael Casaperalta and Sean McLaughlin — members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group were pleased with the FCC’s plan. Rural broadband advocates say the field is up to the challenge.
“This is a chance to show the FCC that there’s a lot of interest among rural providers for this funding,” said Edyael Casaperalta, coordinator of the Rural Broadband Policy Group and on staff at the Center for Rural Strategies (which publishes the Daily Yonder).
In 2010, the FCC restructured the Universal Service Fund and established the Connect America Fund as part of the National Broadband Plan. The fund is supposed to help telecommunications companies make the transition to new technology like broadband, especially in harder-to-reach areas like rural communities.
But the funding has been available only to large “incumbent” telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon. Some of those companies have turned down Connect America funding because they didn’t like the rules that came with the funding, Casaperalta said.
That left some money sitting unused in the fund.
In the meantime, groups that were anxious to provide broadband in rural areas couldn’t get access to the support because they weren’t eligible for the Connect America Fund, Casaperalta said.
The new FCC experiment is looking for “diverse” rural organizations to tell the commission how they would invest Connect America Fund money in rural broadband projects. That opens potential applicants up to nonprofit organizations, cooperatives, municipal or tribal governments and private businesses, for starters.
Chambers at the FCC said the initial “expression of interest” isn’t a complex document. The FCC wants to hear who is interested in applying for support, what homes or institutions they want to serve and an estimate of the cost to get the job done.
Once they have that information, the commissioners will consider the next steps in creating the funding stream, Chambers said. A background report on the funding experiment asks rhetorically whether the FCC should fund the program at $50 million or $100 million and whether the funding should be spent in one year or over several.
The experiment is to help prove that Internet providers can serve rural communities with adequate broadband, Chambers said. “Just because you’re in a rural or sparsely populated area doesn’t mean you can’t get a decent level of bandwidth to schools, libraries, businesses and homes,” he said.
Organizations that wish to be eligible to receive Connect American Fund money for rural broadband projects have until March 7 to file an “expression of interest” with the FCC.
(More information is in the report from the FCC’s January 30 meeting. The rural funding program is discussed starting at the bottom of page 31 – paragraph No. 86. The requirements for an “expression of interest” are described on page 38, paragraph No. 105.)
Other rural broadband advocates expressed support for the program, according to a press release distributed by the Rural Broadband Policy Group.
“This is an important step in closing the digital divide for remote rural communities,” said Connie Stewart, executive director of the California Center for Rural Policy. “We thank the FCC for recognizing the need to expand funding options and provider opportunities.”
Wally Bowen, the founder of a communications nonprofit based in Asheville, North Carolina, said the experiment to fund local groups to expand broadband connections fits the way rural communities naturally work.
“This is a historic step by the FCC to empower underserved areas to meet their own broadband needs via ‘self-help’ traditions deeply rooted in rural America,” said Bowen, who is with Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN).
Sean McLaughlin, executive director of Access Humboldt, said including small, rural broadband providers in the Connect America funding experiment could help rural communities on many levels. “The rural broadband trials have the potential to support locally owned broadband media networks that build local capacity to serve public safety, health, education, media, economic development and civic engagement,” he said.
Christopher Mitchell with the Institute of Self-Reliance in Minnesota said the funding experiment could help demonstrate the strength of local organizations. “This is a great step for rural communities that have not been well served by existing providers,” he said. “It recognizes that local, nonprofit based providers may be best positioned to meet the needs of local businesses and residents.”
FCC to Launch Rural Broadband Trials

Social Impact Design: Creating a Culture of Storytelling & Evaluation

Social Impact Design:  Creating a Culture of Storytelling & Evaluation

I’m slowly making my way through the webinar archive of the NEA.

Great stuff but I really have to force myself to make time for anything outside the daily scope of my work.  This one, I confess, has been on my to-do list since April 26th.

And this is a topic I love.  And I can’t find 40 minutes to watch it?

My challenge to you:  Go look at the archived webinars, pick one and watch it.  Then come back here and give us your review.

In an effort to provide information about our programs to a wider public, we conduct webinars on a variety of topics. Below are links to our upcoming and archived webinars.
For upcoming webinars, click on the link register for the webinar.
Please note that the webinar software requires users to have Flash 10.3 or later installed.


September 18, 2013 Research: Art Works Grant Guidelines Workshop
September 25, 2013 Ask the Grants Office
Due to an overwhelming response, we have reached our capacity for the “Ask the Grants Office” webinar. An archive of the webinar will be available here within 24 hours.


September 11, 2013
Arts Education: Building Collective Impact Initiatives

August 20, 2013
Social Impact Design Webinar Series: Educating the Next Generation of Social Impact Designers
July 25, 2013
Arts & Human Development Task Force: Quarterly Webinar

July 10, 2013
Bringing Foreign Artists to Your Stage 2
June 19, 2013
Bringing Foreign Artists to Your Stage
June 12, 2013
Social Impact Design: Making it Happen: Spotlight on Successful Projects
June 3, 2013
Blue Star Museums: Reaching Military Audiences
May 30, 2013
Art Works: Media Arts Guidelines Workshop for Applicants to the August 8th Deadline
May 15, 2013
Web Sites, Videos, Mobile Apps, + Video Games: Accessibility for All
April 24, 2013
Social Impact Design: Creating a Culture of Storytelling & Evaluation
April 17, 2013
Interagency Task Force on Arts & Human Development: The Arts and Early Childhood
April 3, 2013
Challenge America Fast-Track Guidelines Workshop
March 20, 2013
Arts Education Webinar: The Role of Collective Impact
February 20, 2013
NEA Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development
January 10-February 12, 2013
Art Works Guidelines Workshops by discipline
Nov 13, 2012
Big Read Announcement and Discussion
Nov 6 & 13, 2012
Our Town Guidelines Workshop
October 4, 2012
Arts & Human Development Task Force 5
Sept 19, 2012
Arts & Human Development Task Force 4
Sept 12, 2012
Research: Art Works Grants Workshop
August 14, 2012
NEA-GO Training for Art Works Applicants
August 1, 2012 Arts & Human Development Task Force 3
July 31, 2012 Creative Placemaking through Arts Engagement
July 24, 2012 Creative Placemaking through Design and Cultural Planning
July 17, 2012 Creative Placemaking in Rural Communities

Social Impact Design: Creating a Culture of Storytelling & Evaluation

Secrets to Finding Out What You Need – Good Questions to Ask During a Technology Assessment (The Data Bank)

Secrets to Finding Out What You Need – Good Questions to Ask During a Technology Assessment (The Data Bank)
When you start by asking the right questions, your organization will be in the best place to plan for the future.

From Idealware “Best of the Web” Feb ‘13
Secrets to Finding Out What You Need – Good Questions to Ask During a Technology Assessment (The Data Bank)

Six Dos and Six Don’ts with Social Media

Six Dos and Six Don’ts with Social Media
By Kaitlyn Trigger
Are you sick of people telling you a hundred things your nonprofit should be doing with social media? (We are.) Wouldn’t it be nicer to be told what NOT to do so that you can feel good about not doing it?
For a change of pace, we talked with Kaitlyn Trigger, Marketing Director at Rally, a startup developing online tools for fundraising. Her unconventional tips:
Ultimately, understanding yourself and your audience is more central to a successful social media presence than mastering the minutiae of Facebook, Twitter, and  YouTube. Nevertheless, there are a few guidelines that can help you maintain good social media “hygiene” and avoid shiny new distractions:

Six Dos and Six Don’ts with Social Media