Saturday, September 26, 2009

Conversations with Vic Jaras

Vic has been busy recently, working on E2T2, ARRA, as well as creating partnerships with Google. He had a chance to share information with the Heartland area tech coordinators this past Thursday. Here are some of the things he shared.

• He will be conducting a statewide webinar on October 7 for E2T2 (and will have a follow up session in Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs). The RFP's deadline is Nov. 24. He also has put together a set of FAQ's on the DE website to help answer questions about the submission process.

• While E2T2 and ARRA use the same guidance structure, they are two separate funding opportunities with their own set of rules. Vic mentioned that ARRA will have more transparency requirements and faster reimbursement cycles than E2T2. Also, the state's media service directors met in September and are looking to invest a bulk of their ARRA dollars into online learning. This could help pave the way for some statewide funding of instructional design positions, some additional purchased content, or some opportunities for local districts to reimburse teachers who create online content.

• Speaking of which, the DE continues to emphasize the need to create online content that would be available for emergency situations. Vic is looking into agreements for temporary telecom assistance should a disaster befall a district, and having a repository of online content could assure that instruction continues, come tornado, flooding, or flu. Both Vic and I will be presenting on online education at Monday's Risky Business conference.

• Finally, Vic has worked with Google to develop a partnership. For Iowa schools, they will have free access to enhanced accounts of Google Earth, as well as Google Sketchup, a 3-D development tool allowing students to create in Google Earth as a virtual development. Google has set up a train-the-trainer day Heartland will be hosting (on October 1). Vic mentioned representatives from each AEA will be there, as well as some LEA representatives. After that date, registration codes would be available for schools.

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