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Five Technologies To Avoid In The Classroom-And What To Use Instead

In a technology-dependent education culture, are there some technologies to avoid? And if so, why, and what are better alternatives?

One of the most popular articles on eSchool Media is a surprising one to the editors: “6 apps that block social media distractions.” This story, which seemed  a bit counter-intuitive for us to write (being a tech-cheerleading publication in nature), has held the top spot by a massive margin for almost three years now; which had the editors considering the question, “Are there technologies that should simply be avoided in the classroom?”

Of course, the editors then had to ponder what would make a technology easier to avoid than try to implement, and came up with a list of broad technologies and technology trends that either A) caused, rather than eased, more problems and concerns in the classroom, and/or B) were not evolved enough to make an actual difference in teaching or learning.

And, not wanting to simply talk technology trash without offering some useful information, the editors then came up with the technology options that may be better suited for the intended classroom task.

5 Technologies to Avoid in the Classroom

1. Social Media:
This was the easiest to choose, thanks to our reigning king of articles mentioned above. Though social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for informal, personal use, most of education still has problems implementing these larger social media platforms for meaningful teaching and learning without running into privacy, security and cyberbullying headaches.

Better Option? Classroom-created forums. Many technology-savvy educators have deduced that perhaps the best way to mitigate social media distractions while still allowing for collaboration and discussion is to use a classroom or subject-specific forum or platform. In fact, according to EDUCAUSE, one of the core functions of the post-LMS era is to use a “next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE)” that “supports collaboration at multiple levels and make it easy to move between private and public digital spaces. The NGDLE must also include a requirement to move past a “walled garden” approach to locking down a course’s LMS, and instead enable a learning community to make choices about what parts are public and what parts are private.”

Outside of cloud-based or platform-enabled communication spaces, some apps even allow for project and assignment-only collaboration and organization, such as Slack (which Stanford uses for team communication and work management) and Trello (a project management app). Both are available for Android, as well.

2. Games
: There’s a lot to be said for gaming in specific areas of education, like for learning how to code or applying mathematical concepts to real-life technology. In fact, eSchool News recently wrote an article touting the benefits of game-based learning and describing how schools are effectively using game-based learning with great results. However, for the average non-STEM heavy course, using actual games to learn is still in its research infancy as to whether or not games provide any major benefits to learning. Compound this with the unfortunate reality that most gaming is still male-centric, doesn’t usually allow for multi-player experiences, and is new to many educators, the time it takes to vet and properly implement games may be more of a hassle than it’s worth.

Better Option? Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR). With AR or VR, educators can still boost student engagement while incorporating some of the best characteristics of visual technology: interaction and visual learning. With AR and VR, teachers can help students better understand abstract or difficult concepts, take learning outside the classroom while still incorporating technology, and strengthen emotional engagement in course material–all while incorporating the traditional gaming characteristics of play and humor. Read more about AR in K-12  HERE , as well as apps for AR HERE . Read more about VR in education HERE , as well as how some schools are seeing massive STEM gains with VR  HERE .

3. Untested Apps and Online Tools
: Thanks to the explosive growth of mobile technology and its use in education, apps and digital resources and tools across a host of platforms are also available…perhaps dizzyingly so. Checking education apps and tools on any large platform, like the Apple Store, for educator-based comments and reviews is tedious; and often challenges like apps and tools that are never updated, or apps and tools that don’t actually perform as promised cause more headaches then they’re worth.

Better Option? Vetted apps and tools. Because of the overwhelming choice of apps and digital tools and resources that currently exist for education, some notable industry companies and organizations have taken the time to vet these tools for educators, using a selection process based on their own experience as well as feedback from teachers and administrators. For example, Common Sense Media reviews apps, digital tools and much more, providing feedback from educators when applicable. You can find their vetted apps here on eSchool News, as well as their “EdTech Eleven” monthly tool and resource picks HERE .

4. Anything That’s Not Accessible
: With the growth of online and blended education options, as well as digital tools and technologies, accessibility has become a hot-button issue in education. Accessibility not only applies to technology hardware and software, but to school websites, classroom content, and literally anything on the cloud.

Better Option? Consult IT First. During an EDUCAUSE 2015 conference, a panel of education IT experts were asked to discuss accessibility issues as they related not just to overall school technology, but specifically to classroom materials and technology. EDUCAUSE even has its own IT Accessibility Constituent Group that its members can consult for accessibility advice. You can find a rundown of proactive accessibility considerations from a recent toolkit  HERE , but it’s also a good idea to consult your school or district’s IT department before implementing any kind of new technology. A step-by-step guide for making online learning accessible is available  HERE , and video accessibility compliance steps can be found  HERE .

5. Device-Specific Technology
: In the war of iPads versus Chromebooks versus Androids, honing in on apps, platforms or branded software that are only compatible with one kind of technology is usually a mistake, thanks to the quick turnover of many of these devices. Also, technology that doesn’t work well with others (think older LMS’ that refuse to integrate with other school or classroom software) is not a smart, future-looking option.

Better Option? Interoperable, Device-Agnostic TechnologyAccording to educational experts, the best approach to supporting BYOD for instruction is the “device-agnostic” class. To help smooth out some of the BYOD-related bumps in the classroom, applications like Haiku Deck (presentation software), Tackk (a multimedia scrolling poster), and Snapguide (for creating step-by-step guides) are all offered in iOS, Android, and/or web versions. The latter, for example, uses a browser-based interface to allow students to access the application from any device–regardless of operating system–and use it online without having to worry about software incompatibility issues.

One of the newer entrants to the device-agnostic BYOD market is EXO U, a platform that allows teachers to share information and collaborate with students across multiple operating systems. Shan Ahdoot, CEO of the San Francisco-based firm, says such applications help educators get “everyone on the same page” quickly and effectively without wasting classroom time or IT resources. “The goal is to create a consistent experience from phone to laptop to interactive whiteboard,” says Ahdoot.

~~  Meris Stansbury   ~~

G-ICYMI™: WV’s Broadband Ranking

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV


Frontier Communications and cable companies like Suddenlink are opposing the West Virginia Legislature’s latest attempt to improve high-speed internet across the state.

At a public hearing Friday, lobbyists for Frontier and the cable industry skewered parts of a bill (HB3093) that would authorize a pilot project in which three cities or counties would band together to build a broadband network and offer internet service to customers.

The industry lobbyists said legislation should target areas without high-speed internet — not places that already have service.

“When you spend taxpayer dollars and resources to focus on areas that already have broadband just so you can have a third or fourth choice, you are denying and depriving service to those who have none,” said Kathy Cosco, a Frontier executive and lobbyist.

Frontier and cable internet providers also oppose a section of the bill that would allow 20 or more families or businesses to form nonprofit co-ops that would provide internet service in rural areas.

Mark Polen, who represents the cable industry, said the bill should be changed to “make it clear these pilot projects and co-ops can’t be deployed where there’s already service.”

“That would be critical to the protection of our investment,” Polen said. “Anything that’s going to result in public subsidies being given to those that are going to overbuild private investment is not the proper policy. Let’s focus on the unserved areas and not allow this program to turn into an overbuilding initiative.”

Smaller internet providers like Bridgeport-based Citynet support the legislation. Citynet CEO Jim Martin told lawmakers that Frontier and the cable industry want to shut out competitors and protect their stranglehold on broadband service across the state.

“There is a reason they’re opposed to it, and that’s because this bill is going to enable competition,” Martin said.

Frontier, which is the largest internet provider in the state, also opposes a section of the bill that bars companies from advertising maximum or “up to” speeds. That measure aims to block firms from advertising internet speeds that they seldom — or never — deliver to customers.

Cosco said the measure unfairly stops companies from touting improved service. Frontier stopped advertising an “up to” speed in 2014, she said.

“If providers aren’t allowed to promote the service that’s available, it would be detrimental to the state’s economic development,” Cosco said.

Martin said his company would have no problem whatsoever with the ban on deceptive advertising. Internet providers would still be able to advertise minimum download and upload speeds available to customers.

“If you have a network and you’re comfortable with it, you should be able to advertise your minimum speed, and then stick with it,” Martin said. “It’s fantastic we aren’t going to allow for false advertising and representations of an ‘up to’ speed.”

Speakers at the public hearing also praised the bill for establishing procedures that would give internet providers quicker access to telephone poles used to hang fiber cable. Smaller firms said they sometimes have to wait months or years to use the poles.

But Cosco said the proposed changes conflict with Federal Communication Commission rules. And a leader of a union that represents Frontier technicians said the proposed pole procedures pose a safety risk.

“It would allow unqualified personnel from third-party contractors to transfer equipment on a utility pole to make room for a new provider’s equipment,” said Elaine Harris, who represents the Communications Workers of America in West Virginia.

ORIGINAL STORY 03.16.2017 – West Virginia lawmakers unveiled comprehensive broadband legislation Thursday that aims to spur competition among internet providers in rural areas and stop deceptive advertising about internet speeds.

House Bill 3093 would allow up to three cities or counties to start a pilot project by banding together and building a broadband network that provides high-speed internet service. Twenty or more families or businesses in rural communities also could form nonprofit co-ops that would qualify for federal grants to expand internet service, according to the bill.

“This is superb,” said Ron Pearson, a retired federal bankruptcy judge and broadband expansion advocate. “We’ve got to have competition in providing internet and other services that travel over fiber to households and businesses or we’re going to be stuck in the dark ages of competition in West Virginia.”

Lobbyists for Frontier Communications and cable internet providers already are raising objections to the legislation. The bill will face tough sledding in the Senate. Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, also works as Frontier’s sales director in West Virginia.

“We believe connecting West Virginia citizens is vital to our shared success, and any legislative proposal should focus on reaching the unserved and rural markets of our state,” Frontier spokesman Andy Malinoski said. “We are, however, concerned that House Bill 3093 may not accomplish that goal.”

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, gave a 30-minute overview of the broadband legislation Thursday in the House chamber. Lawmakers have been working on the bill for months.

One of the bill’s key selling points: It requires no state funding — welcome news as lawmakers grapple with a $500 million budget deficit.

“We need revenue-neutral solutions to problems,” Hanshaw told lobbyists and fellow lawmakers who attended his presentation. “This is such a bill.”

In addition to broadband co-ops, the legislation would forbid internet companies from falsely advertising maximum download speeds — also referred to as “up to” speeds — while providing significantly slower speeds to customers. The internet firms could still advertise minimum internet service speeds.

Frontier, West Virginia’s largest internet provider, faces a class-action lawsuit over false advertising. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also has taken the company to task over internet speeds.

“This [section of the bill] protects consumers from deceptive advertising,” Hanshaw said.

The legislation also expands the powers of the state Broadband Enhancement Council.

The 13-member panel would be responsible for collecting data about internet speeds and broadband service across the state — and publishing the “mapping” information. Data would be collected voluntarily from internet providers and consumers.

West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation for broadband accessibility.

“More data is always better,” Hanshaw said. “It gives businesses looking to locate here a definitive tool they can use to make decisions on where to locate a facility.

” Also under the bill:

The broadband council would collect and distribute grant money. The council also would act as a “think tank” and make recommendations to the Legislature.

Internet providers could string fiber-optic cable in shallow “micro-trenches,” which are less expensive to dig than traditional utility trenches.

Companies wanting to expand broadband could place their fiber on telephone poles more quickly under new, expedited procedures.

A program would allow landowners to voluntarily grant easements for fiber lines.

~~  Eric Eyre Gazette-Mail ~~

4 Good Computer Habits Every Teacher Should Have

The Free Press WV

They say computers make life easier. They sometimes make our lives miserable.

How many of these habits are a part of your teaching life?

1. Back up your computer:
This may sound old-school, and you’ve probably heard people say it all the time; but let me tell you again that backup is the single most effective way to prevent data loss.

You may think data loss will never happen to you, but it happens to everyone at some point. It’s often too late when you realize it, the moment when you accidentally deleted a student’s assignment from your flash drive; worse yet, when your computer crashed all of a sudden due to unexpected errors. Having an up-to-date backup will avoid frustration and save you time to restore.

How to do? If you are using a PC or Mac, you can set up Windows System Backup or Time Machine to backup your computer regularly. For those important files, such as the students’ assignments and your teaching materials, make sure you also save at least one copy saved to an external hard drive. Another alternative that’s also convenient nowadays is online backup. For example, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox all make it easy for us to upload files to the cloud and their services are free to get started. See also: An appliance approach to data backup.

2. Clean your desktop and hard drive:
We all like to save files and folders to the computer desktop to make them easier to access. You probably never locate a file by clicking “This PC” (for Windows) or “Macintosh HD” (for macOS) because it’s a waste of time. But if your computer desktop looks cluttered with dozens of files, folders, or shortcut icons, it’s time to clean them up a little bit. Not only does a cluttered desktop affect your productivity, as files are harder to find, but it can even slow down your computer if you use a Mac.

Likewise, clean up your hard drive. Research shows that the first 50 percent of a hard drive performs better than the second 50 percent due to the way disk storage works. Also, if the internal hard drive of your computer is almost full, chances are everything will slow down and you’ll wait longer for your PC to fully startup, and apps won’t run any quicker than before.

How to do? Start by transferring large files to an external drive, then delete duplicates and remove third-party programs you no longer use. Last but never least, be more organized by having fewer folders to categorize all the files you have—your computer will be more productive and so will you.

3. Wipe your old computer or device:
Technology evolves fast. Chances are you’ll get a new computer (or a mobile phone) every several years. What about the old computer or device? You probably want to trade in or sell it; or if you’re kind, you may choose to donate it so teachers and students in poor areas can benefit from technology. But one thing you should remember to do before you let your device go—wipe out all data on the device. Wiping is critical because your computer or device may fall into wrong hands, thus putting your personal data at risk.

How to do? If you are a tech-savvy teacher, you know that data recovery is often possible even if you’ve emptied Recycle Bin or Trash or formatted a hard drive. For example, we all delete pictures or videos to free up space, but they can often be retrieved by photo recovery software. How do you erase these old devices? Visit your device manufacturer’s official website, do a quick search, and you should be able to find related guides.

4. Set strong and different passwords:
If you have a Yahoo account, you probably heard that Yahoo announced 1 billion user accounts were hacked, and that was right before the holiday season in 2016. I use Yahoo’s email services, and at that time I received a notification from Yahoo security center with one important message about changing my password. I also remember one day a friend shared with me this PCMag article. I laughed because I had exactly three passwords for almost all my online accounts because I hated to reset passwords for security concerns.

What to do? Even if you think you have a strong password that no one can hack, you might be wrong because yesterday’s clever tricks could be dated to protect today’s hackers. A few password principles you should have are: 1) always set a login password for your computer and important folders, 2) don’t save your password in any web browsers, 3) use unique passwords for all sites, 4) manage them with a password management tool like LastPass or Roboform, and 5) change passwords on a regular basis, just in case.

In the digital age, computers are like co-workers. Building good computer habits will not only boost your productivity but also help you live a healthier lifestyle. What other good or bad computer habits do you think teachers should have or get rid of?

Cyberbullying Is NOT A Technology Issue-Here’s How To Really Combat It

If schools and parents want to combat cyberbullying, they need to understand relational aggression first.
The Free Press WV

Cyberbullying continues to grow and present itself as a huge challenge for schools, government policy makers, stakeholders, parents and the community—but is regulating access to technology and social media the answer?

Though the online platforms may be relatively new, cyberbullying should not be separated from bullying. Both behaviors are about relationship power and control, otherwise known as “relational bullying;” therefore, it requires a relationship management-based type of approach in dealing with its impact and prevention.

When conducting my Digital Age Parenting classes, one of the things I share with parents is information about how their child is using a device to say and do things to hurt someone or put themselves in danger. However, the device is only facilitating the interaction between the person and the situation.

Dr. Satira S. Streeter, a licensed clinical psychologist and the founder and executive director of Ascensions Psychological and Community Services, explains that parents shouldn’t limit access to the internet; rather, more focus should be on the behavior instead of their child’s technology use.

Because the internet is now integral to learning and social interactions, focusing on technology alone, grounding children from using it at home, expelling children from school because of its misuse, and tougher laws are not the answers. So, then, what are the answers?

The Relational Bullying Basics

Relational Bullying (or Relational Aggression) is a form of bullying that common amongst youth and more so among girls. It involves social manipulation such as group exclusion, spreading rumors, sharing secrets, and recruiting others to dislike a person. Relational bullying can be used as a tool by bullies to both improve their social standing and control others.
And though relational bullying has been around for quite some time, the concept of bullying is getting more attention now than a few years ago. One of the reasons for this additional attention is the proliferance of cyberbullying caused by many youth feeling that apps offer anonymity, which can therefore decrease accountability—especially since many youth believe cyberbullying can’t be traced by law enforcement.

A number of lives have also been cut short due to the growth of cyberbullying.

In the recent December 2016 case of a high school senior that committed suicide due to cyberbullying, the victim appeared to have done everything right: She told her father about the bullying incidents, and she also told the police. However, because the app used to bully her was one of anonymity, the police could not trace her harassers.

What more could have been done? We may never know the answer; however, this issue needs to be addressed within a broader social context and a range of developed and taught skills, rather than simply limiting access to technology and its platforms. After all, human behavior is learned.

1. Teach Resilience as a Skill

Teaching social and emotional resilience in schools and communities will have a greater effect than policy regulation or legislation in dealing with cyberbullying. Children should be taught a range of social and emotional skills early in school so that it will assist them in dealing with these issues. Skills like pro-social values, emotional skills, social skills and high-order thinking skills would better equip them should they be the victim of this unwanted behavior.

Lack of knowledge creates gaps, and allowing students to be part of the solution through their learning will enhance their ability to prevent and intervene in bullying situations sooner rather than later. If school is about preparing children for life, then digital literacy topics like cyberbullying should be no exception.

2. Create Better Resources

Scholars also need to be involved in the creation of materials or resources for the promotion of socially acceptable behavior, as well as front runners in raising awareness.

3. Allow for Community Involvement

Finally, platforms that allow for open discussions about what users do online and offline are also needed. Educating every area of our communities is just as important as the young people within them.

Dr. William Blake, principal of Stephan Decatur Middle School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, says he and his administration spend 85 percent of their time dealing with conflicts between their students that began on social media or text messages. He says that by educating and raising awareness, and forming partnerships with school, family and community organizations like SafeCyber that educates communities on topics like cyberbullying, that number will begin to drop.

More Effective than Turning to Law

Because cyberbullying knows no geographical boundaries and commonly occurs outside of school, the ethical and legal issues regarding cyberbullying provide concern for teachers, schools and parents due to limited clarity. Therefore, I argue that initiatives and programs which focus on the enhancement of positive relationships and the development of behavioral skills are more effective in dealing with the impacts of cyberbullying.

~~  Reginald Corbitt   ~~

Computer Science Program Celebrating 30 Years at GSC

Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These occupations are expected to add new jobs in part due to a greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, expansion of the ‘Internet of Things,’ and the continued demand for mobile computing.

Glenville State College has a well-established Computer Science and Information Systems program that will be celebrating a 30 year anniversary in 2017. For interested students, concentrations are available in architecture & security or in programming, either of which can lead to a challenging and rewarding career.

After graduation students should be prepared to design, maintain, and troubleshoot networks; write, debug, and maintain applications in Java and C++; design, develop, and maintain websites using HTML5, PHP, and MySQL; and design and maintain databases using SQL. Students can quickly put their degree to use in entry level positions as a network engineer, database administrator, web developer, application programmer, or system administrator.

The Free Press WV
University students in Puebla, Mexico answer questions from a Glenville State College student about her web design project

Former students in the program cite personal attention from the experienced faculty as their favorite part of being a Pioneer.

“There are a lot of professors out there who teach, but rarely will you find ones who inspire. For me, it happened my first day working with Leslie Ward (GSC’s past website technologist and current computer science professor). I was struggling with going to a class because it felt repetitive. She pointed out that no two teachers are the same, and one might cover a different area on the subject of study. I ended up going and really enjoyed and actually understood the subject a lot more. The instructor went out of his way to try to make subjects more enjoyable and had us do projects that helped us think of out of the box solutions,” said recent graduate Kevin Carson. Before completing his degree, Carson had already started his own web design and tech business, Forever Logic, and has continued it for eight years now.

GSC’s Computer Science program has also taken part in Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) courses to expand global learning opportunities. Students in a GSC web design class worked with students enrolled in a business course at the Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla in Mexico. During scheduled video chats throughout the semester, GSC students interacted with the students in Puebla and discussed business practices and etiquette in an international context. The collaboration culminated with a final project in which the web design students learned how to work with an international client to develop a website while the business students honed their English-speaking skills and learned about marketing to other cultures.

The professors in GSC’s Computer Science program are from a variety of professional backgrounds including information systems security, programming, database administration, and networking. The program is reevaluated constantly to match skills learned with expectations from industry professionals.

“I feel really lucky to be able to teach Computer Science courses at Glenville State College. I’ve had the good fortune of working for large organizations including the U.S. Air Force and Hewlett Packard, of being an independent contractor, and of working with small start-ups. It’s a lot of fun to be able to bring some of those experiences into the classroom to augment what we’re reading about in the texts. The small class size allows me to work closely with my students on projects, too, and I feel like I’m able to deliver relevant content more effectively as a result,” said Ward.

Students with a variety of existing skill levels are welcome to enroll in the program. Instructors in the program also administer the introductory computing skills course to all students, regardless of major.

For more information about the Computer Science and Information Systems program at GSC, contact 304.462.4123.

GSC Professor to Lead Local Science Series

The Free Press WV

Glenville State College Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Morris will be participating in a special four-part reading, viewing, and discussion program for adults. The free series, titled ‘Pushing the Limits,’ will take place at the Burnsville Public Library (BPL). The events will be held at 6:00 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: January 24, February 21, March 21, and April 25.

The Library is one of a number of rural public libraries nationwide receiving grants to host the series which centers on the topics of science and technology. Pushing the Limits brings together books and videos featuring authors, scientists, and everyday people who thrive on exploring the natural world.

The Free Press WV
Dr. Gary Morris

The Pushing the Limits program will explore ideas through discussions that will include feature film quality videos and recommended popular books. The overarching theme is one of real people, real stories, and real science. Group discussion events will be held monthly centering on the following books and topics in the following order:

  • When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle (nature)
  • Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (connection)
  • Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler (survival)
  • The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel (knowledge)

Discussion of the content will be led by Morris.

“Mrs. Beth Anderson, Director of the Burnsville Library, reached out to me to inquire if Glenville State College would be interested in participating in this program. I thought it represented a wonderful opportunity for a member of the College to directly engage members of the local community so I accepted the invitation to participate. I have never been a part of a program like this but I think the idea is a very good one: using science-based topics presented in books of fiction as a platform to talk about real science in current events. I look forward to having great discussions with participants who attend each of the scheduled events,” said Morris.

Interested participants should contact the Burnsville Public Library to obtain copies of books for the program. The materials are not required for participation in the program.

This national program was developed by a team of library professionals, scientists, and filmmakers. Their organizations include Dartmouth College, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Califa Group (a California-based library consortium), Dawson Media Group, and Oregon State University – with generous funding from the National Science Foundation.

The BPL is located across from the Burnsville Elementary School at 235 Kanawha Avenue in Burnsville, West Virginia. For more information, contact the Library at 304.853.2338.

As Trump Meets Tech CEOs, “Silicon Valley Rising” Calls For Resistance

The Free Press WV

“Millions of families — undocumented workers, union members, women, Muslim Americans, low-wage workers who could lose healthcare or affordable housing — are living in fear of what comes next. ” – Silicon Valley Rising

Silicon Valley Rising is a coalition of community, faith-based and labor organizations that represent tech’s service workers. The coalition warns that “Trump’s policies present a dire threat to the lives and well-being of workers and contractors across the tech sector … be they immigrants, women, workers or Muslim Americans,” and are calling on tech companies “to play a leadership role in resisting unjust policies if they are put forward by the Trump Administration.”

Tech Oligarchs Meet Trump

Tech CEOs (a.k.a billionaires and a few lowly multimillionaires) (a.k.a “oligarchs”) met with President-Elect Donald Trump (billionaire, oligarch) Wednesday as tech’s workers called on them to “to take a stand and resist threats to the rights of workers, consumers and the communities they live in.”

Only heads of the largest companies were invited. Heads of startups and smaller tech companies were also not present. As the NY Times reported,

“This is a truly amazing group of people,” Mr. Trump said. “I won’t tell you the hundreds of calls we’ve had asking to come to this meeting.” Everyone laughed.

… Shortly after that, the press was ushered out of the room. It wasn’t immediately clear what unfolded after that.

However Twitter was cut from the meeting in retribution for the company refusing to create a “#CrookedHillary” emoji for the Trump campaign.

Oligarchs Want To Pocket Taxes They Owe

The tech oligarchs want deals to let them off the hook for taxes they owe on profits they have stashed in offshore tax havens. Companies have around $2.5 trillion of profits, on which they owe more than $700 billion in taxes. (See the Monday NYT op-ed Corporate Welfare Won’t Create Jobs.) Technology corporations have 29% of all untaxed offshore profits.


Will We the People get that $700 billion, or will Trump let them pocket it for themselves?

Oligarchs Likely Did Not Talk About Workers, Climate Change

While Silicon Valley Rising had asked the tech oligarchs to discuss “threats to the rights of workers, consumers and the communities they live in” other tech voices had also been speaking out out other Trump threats. From the NY Times report:

In the days and hours before the meeting, various factions made their positions clear. A group of engineers and other tech workers issued a statement asserting they would refuse to participate in the creation of databases that could be used by the government to target people based on their race, religion or national origin.

… Another group of entrepreneurs assembled virtually this week with the same goal of preventing any erosion of civil liberties. They also accepted “a responsibility to partner with communities where the effects of rapidly changing technologies have hurt our fellow Americans.” …

There is no indication whether any of these issues of concern were discussed. According to a Guardian report on the meeting, Trump did promise to make it easier to sell their products across borders:

The president-elect told the assembled CEOs that he would eliminate restrictions on international trade, a statement at odds with his hard stance against the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during his campaign.

Climate change is another area of importance for tech companies, like Tesla, maker of electric cars and batteries. It is not clear if this was discussed with Trump, who says climate change is a “hoax.”

The Full Silicon Valley Rising Statement

Silicon Valley Rising issued this statement:

We believe President-Elect Trump’s campaign commitments to deport millions of people, ban Muslims from entering the country and create a registry of Muslim Americans stand in stark contrast with the values many tech companies and industry leaders purport to uphold while also directly threatening workers within the sector.

President-Elect Trump’s policies present a dire threat to the lives and well-being of workers and contractors across the tech sector whose hard work day in and day out makes the success of these industries possible, and to millions of their customers  —  be they immigrants, women, workers or Muslim Americans.

Now is the time for the tech industry to step up as leaders, speak truth to power and live out the values of freedom, inclusion and opportunity. In doing so, the industry has an opportunity to be a beacon of hope for millions of Americans fearful of what comes next, and a model for how companies can begin to address the greatest economic challenges facing working families.

As leaders of community and faith-based organizations and labor unions who represent workers in the tech sector across Silicon Valley, we urge companies attending Wednesday’s meeting to play a leadership role in resisting unjust policies if they are put forward by the Trump Administration. Specifically, we call on companies to refuse to cooperate in the development of any registry monitoring Muslim Americans, sharing user and employee information or otherwise collaborate with law enforcement agencies to investigate violations of federal immigration law.

Since 2014, our Coalition has been working to encourage the largest companies in the tech sector to build an economy that works for everyone. We believe now more than ever is the time for technology companies to take actions to improve the economic prospects for workers in their operations including adopting responsible contractor standards to raise wages, improve conditions and support workers’ voices in their supply chains.

The solutions that address economic inequality in the tech sector are not going to come from the Trump Administration delivering tax cuts or slashing regulation for the industry. Instead, tech companies can begin to address these issues by leveraging the enormous power of their companies, their platforms and their supply chains to raise wages and job standards for their workers and contractors, positioning the tech sector as an example for industries across the economy.

Millions of families — undocumented workers, union members, women, Muslim Americans, low-wage workers who could lose healthcare or affordable housing — are living in fear of what comes next. At a time when racism, bigotry and economic hardship are driving our politics, it’s time for leaders in the tech sector to stand up for our communities and use their immense power and resources for good.

~~  Dave Johnson ~~

Frontier Starts to Resolve Speed Complaints

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office says Frontier Communications has increased internet speeds for almost one-fourth of nearly 28,000 customers covered by the December settlement to resolve complaints over slow service.

The agreement requires Frontier to make at least $150 million in capital expenditures over three years to increase internet speeds.

According to the attorney general, Frontier has spent almost $49 million so far and reports increasing internet speeds to 6,320 customers.

Customers paying for high-speed service up to 6 megabits per second complained they frequently received speeds 1.5 mbps or lower.

Frontier agreed to temporarily reduce monthly rates to $9.99 until download speeds increased, saving them $10 to $20 a month.

Frontier, which denied wrongdoing, has estimated the rate cut will cost it about $1.5 million quarterly.

West Virginia Ranks 37th on National Science Assessment

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West Virginia students who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science exam in 2015 showed improvement according to data released today by the National Center for Educational Statistics. Both fourth- and eighth-grade students in West Virginia ranked 37th out of the 47 jurisdictions who participated.

Overall average scale scores increased for both fourth- and eighth-grade test takers, with fourth-grade scores increasing from 148 in 2009 to 151 in 2015 and eighth-grade scores increased from 145 in 2009 to 150 in 2015. The percent of students at or above proficient increased from 28.08% to 31.35% in grade four and 22.10% to 26.61% in grade eight. West Virginia’s scores followed the national trend which also showed improvement.

“I am pleased to see our students are moving in the right direction,” said State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano. “In order to ensure our students are prepared for the 21st century world of work, we must focus on the development of critical thinking skills in the areas of math and science which the jobs of the future are going to require.”

NAEP, often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in various subject areas. The 2015 science assessment was given between January and March, with more than 115,000 fourth-graders and nearly 111,000 eighth-graders participating nationally, representing both public and private schools.

Nationally, nearly all racial/ethnic groups made gains, and the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps have narrowed in grades four and eight since 2009. Additionally, there was no statistically significant difference in average scores between boys and girls.

NAEP is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Full results for the nation and states are available online at

GSC Chi Beta Phi members participate in National Conference

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On Saturday, October 01, 2016, eleven members of the Alpha Iota Chapter of Chi Beta Phi and two other members of the Glenville State College community attended the 69th National Conference of Chi Beta Phi. The conference was hosted by the Zeta Chapter of the organization at the Eshelman Science Center on the Davis & Elkins College campus in Elkins, West Virginia. The faculty members of Alpha Iota Chapter present were Larry Baker (Associate Advisor of the Chapter), Wenwen Du, Kevin Evans, Jeremy Keene, and Paul Peck (Chapter Advisor). Student members who attended the conference were Brianna Caison, Samuel Canfield (Chapter President), Tara Evans, Carrie Huffman, Kelly Weaver, and Zachary White. Professor Alan Daniel and Chris Carver from Glenville State College also attended the afternoon session of the conference.

During the morning session the chapters present gave reports on their activities for the past year. National officers were also elected for two-year terms. The conference then witnessed a presentation by Professor Renaud Stauber of the Davis & Elkins College mathematics department entitled ‘Piezo-electric polymers: Making a space antenna with Saran-Wrap and double-sticky tape.’

In the afternoon session, 22 presentations of student research were made. Glenville State College students gave six of these presentations, the most by any chapter present.

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Caison presented ‘Psychological Pain in the Praying Mantis, Tenodera Sinensis.’ Her research mentor was Professor Daniel. The presentation received a third place award.

Her research took place over a six week period during the summer. “In studying the simplified nervous system of mantids, we can look at things like depression and opioid dependency. We can then hope to use the information on a larger scale as a model for human problems,” Caison said.

She plans on joining the Navy after graduation and eventually becoming a surgeon. Caison credits her advisor and other professors at GSC with helping her work toward achieving her goals. She said they also give the campus and the Science Hall, where she has spent countless hours completing research, a special feel. “They make it a home away from home,” she added.

The five other GSC students also spoke about their various research projects at the conference.

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Canfield presented ‘Bellamya chinensis and Lymnaea stagnalis mortality in the presence of Macrobdella decora.’ He worked with Todd Crowl and Kristin Bahleda at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center East during the summer of 2016.

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Evans presented ‘anti-Markovnikov Hydrobromination of Alkenes.’ Professor Evans was her research mentor. Her research was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

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Huffman presented ‘Evolutionary Analysis of Monopyle (Gesneriaceae) from Central America.’ Her research was under the direction of Professor Keene and was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

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Weaver presented ‘Optimizing the Reaction Conditions for the anti-Markovnikov Hydrobromination of Alkenes.’ Professor Evans was her research mentor. Weaver’s research was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

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White presented ‘Water Use of Mature Oak Trees.’ Glenville State College Professor Rico Gazal was his research mentor. White’s research was funded by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

“The faculty in the Science and Mathematics, Land Resources, and Social Science Departments at Glenville State College are doing an excellent job providing our students with opportunities to participate in STEM-related research. Our faculty are also doing an excellent job helping the students attend professional meetings, such as the Chi Beta Phi National Conference, where the students can present their research experience and results to a broader audience. This is something our faculty are passionate about as evidenced by the number of faculty who went on a Saturday with our students to the Chi Beta Phi National Conference,” said Department Chair and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Morris.

In the award ceremony at the end of the conference, GSC’s Alpha Iota Chapter was recognized as the Most Improved Chapter. All presenters received a presentation award. National President Bill Pohley announced that Alpha Iota Chapter will host the 70th National Conference of Chi Beta Phi on the Glenville State College campus next fall.

Chi Beta Phi is a scientific honorary for undergraduates. An affiliate of The American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1935, the object of the organization is to promote interest in science and to give recognition to scholarly attainment in science. Members participate together in events of scientific interest and wholesome fellowship. Membership is open to honor students in various scientific disciplines and to faculty members at colleges with local chapters. Alpha Iota Chapter at Glenville State College was chartered in 1964 and has been continuously active since then.

7 Global Learning Tools You Can Use Right Now

As learning goes global, these tools and apps can help set students up for success
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Today’s society is mobile and global. Laptops, tablets and smartphones connect users with information in less than a second, and because mobility has increased our connectivity, we’ve increased our connections with all parts of the world.

These advancements mean students have to be ready to learn and work on a global scale. And luckily, with a mobile device and the internet, it’s fairly simple to help students get on the road to developing a global mindset.

Whether your goal is to help students connect with other students from different countries and backgrounds, or if your aim is to broaden their knowledge of worldwide issues, technology can help.

Here are 7 tools to get you started on your global mission:

iEARN: iEARN is a non-profit organization made up of over 30,000 schools and youth organizations in more than 140 countries. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online using the Internet and other new communications technologies. Over 2,000,000 students each day are engaged in collaborative project work worldwide.

TinyBop’s HOMES: This app shows students how other children around the world live. They can explore rooms inside different homes, look outside, and investigate differences. Interactive labels help students learn common words in different languages.

Generation Global: Using this videoconferencing tool and online platform, students will work with other students from different backgrounds and cultures in order to build global empathy and understanding.

NASA’s GLOBE Program: The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.

TakingITGlobal: TakingITGlobal is a network of young people learning about, engaging with, and working towards tackling global challenges. Youth around the world are actively engaged and connected in shaping a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world.

Being Global: An interactive, multi-media, and trilingual app kit for parents and educators to teach children about the goodness in exploring, appreciating, and respecting other children’s traditions, religions, and values the world over. Discover what it means to be global in this whimsically-drawn and thoughtfully-told animated and interactive story that also includes game play.

TWICE: TWICE provides a matching service for point-to-point video conferences between schools. Teacher matching is done based on your registration information. Participating schools are responsible for making the connections work successfully.

Your Internet Privacy Shouldn’t Be a ‘Luxury Item’

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Your internet privacy shouldn’t be a ‘luxury item,‘ top regulator says

Should your online privacy depend on whether you’ve paid your internet provider a little extra this month?

That’s one of the key policy questions concerning the future of the web. And this week, the nation’s top telecom and broadband regulator, Tom Wheeler, signaled that he’s not a fan of the idea.

Talking to reporters, the head of the Federal Communications Commission implied that the internet risks becoming divided into privacy haves and have-nots, if companies such as AT&T and Comcast can dangle discounts in front of consumers in exchange for slurping up their search and browsing histories for advertising purposes.

“I would hope that privacy doesn’t become a luxury item,“ Wheeler told The Washington Post.

The FCC is waist-deep in crafting a set of privacy regulations for internet service providers (ISPs). Some, such as Comcast, have met with the FCC to ask that it not restrict the ability of ISPs to tinker with a discount-for-data business model.

“A bargained-for exchange of information for service is a perfectly acceptable and widely used model throughout the U.S. economy, including the internet ecosystem,“ Comcast wrote in a regulatory filing this week.

From one perspective, a broadband discount could help get more people online who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Cable companies such as Comcast argue they shouldn’t be treated any differently from other firms in the internet ecosystem: Google offers many of its services for free, in exchange for your personal data. So does Facebook, as well as many online news outlets.

But this business model would put ISPs in direct competition with websites for advertising dollars. And the internet providers’ ability to see the whole breadth of your online activity — not just what you search for during the day or which videos you watch on Netflix — could give them a big advantage over Web companies, critics say.

What’s more, opponents argue, the plans could exacerbate inequality. By making it more expensive to buy internet plans that don’t mine your personal information, wealthier Americans may be able to avoid the tracking while lower-income Americans must face a growing barrage of ads, offers and promotions — some of which may not be in their best interest.

“Low-income consumers have less disposable income with which to pay for privacy-protective plans, and therefore are much more likely to give up their privacy in exchange for access to the internet,“ wrote Eric Null, a policy lawyer at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. “Low-income consumers should not have to decide between internet access and privacy, but pay-for-privacy forces that decision upon them.“

West Virginia Is Ranked 48th in The United States in Terms of Broadband Access

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U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito is one of several prominent West Virginians who wants to see improved broadband access in the Mountain State.

Yesterday, she toured parts of Fayette County with business owners, local leaders, and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to highlight the difficulties facing West Virginia’s economy while it remains near the bottom for residential access to broadband internet. The group also engaged in a round table discussion.

“56 percent of West Virginia is unserved by high speed internet,” Senator Capito said on MetroNews-affiliated “The Mike Queen Show” on the AJR News Network. “We’re not going to get our economy turned around or our young people attracted to living in our state if we do not have the availability of high speed internet and the affordability.”

West Virginia is ranked 48th in the United States in terms of broadband access.

“We don’t have the customer mix–large numbers–where the providers are going to want to go,” she said. “We’re going to have to use incentives from the FCC and other places to push the providers to go to those under served and unserved areas.”

Senator Capito spoke with business owners from Adventures on the Gorge, who suggested that the poor access to broadband internet reinforces an image that West Virginia doesn’t want while also harming long-term growth.

“When you come in, you want to be able to connect,” she said. “And she said, ‘if they can’t connect then it reinforces in their mind that West Virginia is kind of behind.‘”

She also praised businesses–including some in Morgantown–who have made use of technology to provide a better customer service experience.

“You have to wait for tables?” she said. “What a great thing–to have an app on your phone so you get a text when your table is ready. You can go out and shop at the other little stores in and around the area. That’s good for the economy. There are all kinds of way that the internet can boost the economy and is a necessity.”

In a released statement, Commissioner Pai said, “West Virginia faces some challenges, but it also has major assets: hard-working residents, a spirit of community, and beautiful country. The internet is an increasingly critical way for the state to promote those assets, and I’m hopeful that the FCC, other agencies, and the private sector can work together to promote broadband deployment all across the Mountain State”

A state Senate bill to build a fiber optic infrastructure network that would increase broadband access passed by a 29-5 margin earlier this year. That bill died in February in the House of Delegates.

Frontier Communications….

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Frontier squandered $4.5M in federal funds by padding invoices, suit alleges

Frontier Communications’ engineers figured it would cost $72,000 to bring fiber-optic internet service to Central Preston Middle School in Kingwood, one of nearly 200 schools selected six years ago to receive a broadband upgrade in West Virginia.

But Frontier later submitted an invoice to the state for nearly $304,000 — four times the estimated cost. West Virginia officials approved the extra expenses and paid Frontier with federal stimulus grant money.
inRead invented by Teads

The primary reason for the inflated price tag: Frontier added an $187,000 “loading” fee to its invoice.

A federal lawsuit unsealed last week alleges that Frontier padded 365 such invoices with loading fees that totaled $4.5 million — part of a scheme to drain unused stimulus funds that could have been steered to Frontier’s competitors and help expand high-speed internet across West Virginia.
On its invoices, Frontier defines loading fees as “indirect costs such as vehicles, accounting, administration, etc.”

In 2010, the federal government awarded West Virginia $126.3 million in stimulus funds to expand high-speed internet to schools, libraries, health clinics and government buildings.

As the project got up and running two years later, former broadband Project Director Lt. Col. Mike Todorovich issued a memo saying Frontier and other vendors wouldn’t be paid for administrative costs.

Federal stimulus grant rules prohibited state officials from paying Frontier for such costs, according to the lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act by Citynet, a Frontier competitor.

“Indirect costs may not be reimbursed,” Todorovich wrote in February 2012.

An October 2010 agreement signed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin’s office seems to contradict Todorovich’s directive. The “memorandum of understanding” allowed the state to reimburse Frontier for “overhead costs” during the broadband project.

The memo indicates the company “may” bill for the extra costs on separate invoices. Frontier combined regular project costs — things like expenses for fiber cable — and overhead fees on the same invoice.

Todorovich’s superiors also apparently didn’t support his tight lid on the stimulus funds.

“Initially, state Homeland Security Director Jimmy Gianato requested that Col. Todorovich create a ‘bucket of money’ that could be accessed by the state at any moment with no oversight or pre-approval to obtain the funds,” according to the lawsuit. “Col. Todorovich refused to allow the [stimulus funds] to be accessed unless it was to pay for construction already completed.”

In any case, the prohibition against reimbursing Frontier for administrative costs didn’t last long.

The state’s chief technology officer, Gale Given, started approving Frontier’s loading charges in August 2012, a month after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin hired her, according to the lawsuit.
Frontier submitted one invoice with a loading fee before Given, a former Verizon executive, was hired, according to the lawsuit. Afterward, all Frontier invoices contained the extra administrative expense.

Given, through a technology office spokeswoman, declined comment last week. Frontier and Citynet executives also would not comment.

In many cases, Frontier’s indirect-cost fee was higher than the estimated price for bringing high-speed internet to a particular site. Some examples:

An internet fiber project at a state planning and economic development agency in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle was expected to cost $3,400. Frontier charged $9,000 for administrative fees alone.

Bringing fiber to the Eastern Regional Jail was supposed to cost $5,100. Frontier’s loading fee was $8,300 on that project.

In Preston County, the loading fee was “259 percent of the actual cost of the project” to bring fiber to the middle school, according to the invoice Frontier submitted to the state.
Citynet’s lawsuit also takes issue with Frontier’s later decision to tack a $1,800 processing fee onto each invoice that paid Frontier for fiber work inside state facilities. A Frontier engineer claimed it took 16 Frontier employees a combined four hours to process each invoice, according to a memo included with the lawsuit.

Frontier’s processing fees — inserted into 327 invoices — totaled $593,000. Given approved the invoices.

Citynet alleges that Frontier padded its invoices as part of a fraudulent scheme to exhaust stimulus funds.

The state had set aside $42 million of stimulus funds to build 1,800 miles of fiber, but it reduced that mileage to 915 miles after discovering many schools set to receive fiber already had it.

“Since Frontier had already determined it could build the 915 miles of fiber for approximately $22.7 million, it and the state realized there would be a surplus of $20 million or more in funds that could be awarded to Frontier’s competitors,” the lawsuit claims.

The state wound up paying Frontier $40.5 million for fiber construction. But Frontier built only 675 miles of fiber. The statewide project was completed two years ago.

Citynet filed its lawsuit against Frontier under the False Claims Act in 2014, but the complaint remained under seal until last week. Citynet wanted the federal government to intervene in the case, but the U.S. Justice Department declined to join the lawsuit.

~~  Eric Eyre ~~

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