Education Telecommunications Council


December 15, 2003




The December 15, 2003, meeting of the Education Telecommunication Council was held at Iowa Public Television with the following members present:  Floyd Davenport for Robert Barak, Board of Regents; Al Bode, ISEA; Jim Bodensteiner, Board of Regents; Dean Cook, SAI; Merv Cronbaugh, IACCT; Greg Davis, IASB; Tim Dose, SAI; Mary Gannon, IASB; Ellen Kabat Lensch, IACCT; Pam Pfitzenmaier, IPTV; Kay Runge, DE/Pub Libraries; and Mary Travillian, AEA Boards.  Paul Bowers, IAICU; John Hartung, IAICU; David Montgomery, DE/CIANS; Kathryn O’Shaughnessy, ISEA; Gail Sullivan, DE; and Robert Vittengl, AEA Boards were absent.


The following visitors were also present at roll call:  Kathy Guilgot, RTC 1; Bruce McKee, RTC 2; Kathy Goebel, Region 5 ICN Scheduler; Rick Maehl, RTC 5; Julie Thomas, RTC 6; Roger Rezabek, RTC 7; John Haack, RTC 10; Pat Thieben, RTC 11; Pam Southworth, RTC 13, Cena Johnson, RTC 14; Linda Abel, RTC 15; Julie Russell, Region 16 ICN Scheduler; Judy Jones, State Library; John Gillispie and Tami Fujinaka, ICN; Bob Steingreaber, AEA 15; Wayne Bruns and Deb Fiscus, IPTV.


II.                  ISSUES

II.A.    Revision of Educational Trends Document

Pam Pfitzenmaier, Jim Bodensteiner, Ellen Kabat Lensch, and Al Bode provided an update concerning the revision of the document, “ETC Technology and Telecommunications for K-12 Current and Future Needs, 12/17/01.”  A meeting was held that included an ETC working group of Al Bode, Kay Runge, Ellen Kabat Lensch, Paul Bowers, Jim Bodensteiner, and Pam Pfitzenmaier, to discuss how the document might be rewritten to fit the current needs.  Paul Bowers sent a survey to ETC members that included two questions—1. What are the current program uses of the ICN at various educational levels; 2.  What do you see as the future needs for the various constituencies.  It was requested that Mary Travillian be added to the working group to provide K12 and AEA input into the document. This group will draft a revision and forward it to the full ETC for feed back.  The report will include a one page executive summary of current programs that use the ICN and behind that a much longer supporting document of current and future needs.  The document needs to be finalized by end of January.  Feedback should be submitted as soon as possible. 


II.B.   State Financial Forecast

Mary Gannon stated that the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) was held last week where they lowered the current year estimate by nearly $15m and raised next year’s estimate by approximately $63m.   The day after the REC met, IASB, ISEA and SAI held a joint press conference asking the legislature to begin to look at the revenue side of the state finances.  The press conference didn’t specifically ask state policy makers to raise taxes but rather to look at eliminating the tax breaks that are currently in place or to look at new forms of revenues.   Mary strongly urged members and guests, school board members, educators, etc. to attend Governor’s regional budget “input” meetings in their regions. To find out when meetings are being held in your region, look on the IASB website at   It was also mentioned that the REC will meet again in March to revise state revenues.


III.                UPDATES

III. A.  Iowa Department of Education Technology Advisory Committee

Greg Davis provided an update on the DE technology advisory committee that has had some preliminary discussions concerning the issues of technology policy in Iowa.  The committee has drafted some belief statements concerning the use of technology in K12 settings.  The current draft states: 


1.  The impact of technology on student learning is dependent on educators’ decisions and appropriate use of technology.

  1. A quality teacher is the critical link to improved student learning.
  2. Iowa students, regardless of location or resources, should have equitable access to educational opportunities offered by the use of technology and telecommunications.
  3. The effective use to technology requires hardware, software, professional development and tech support, and upgrades.
  4. Technology should be used as a tool to enhance and improve student learning.
  5. Therefore, student’s technology skills should be assessed through the application of learning and other contexts.
  6. The use of all forms of technology in schools needs to keep pace with community and workplace expectations.


Greg stated that the group will continue to refine these belief statements and recommend to the Iowa Department of Education how these might impact state policies.   Pam also stated that they would be looking at the Code of Iowa and the Department of Education administrative rules that are impairing, impacting or supporting technology in schools.  Greg will send an electronic survey to ETC members that they can respond to prior to the next committee meeting.


III.B.   Iowa Learning Online

Pam Pfitzenmaier provided an update on the Iowa Learning Online initiative, previously called Iowa Virtual Academy.  Iowa Learning Online is being designed to help schools districts offer expanded educational programs to their students.  Discussions are being held with different K-12 districts as well as community colleges about what might be offered through Iowa Learning Online. 


III.C.   Various Updates from ICN Staff

III.C.1. ICN Ten Year Anniversary

Tami Fujinaka provided an update on the ICN Ten Year Anniversary plans thus far.  The tenth anniversary celebration will take place with a major event on February 3, 2004, 11:30am-1:00pm, in rooms 19 and 116 at the State Capitol Building and at various ICN rooms across Iowa.  Two speakers will be present from the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC—John Bailey, Director of Educational Technology will be joining the event in person; Cheryl Garnette, Director of Learning Technologies, will be participating via videoconference.  Governor Vilsack is expected to participate in the event as is Senator Harkin.  The Office of Astronaut Appearances is expected to provide an astronaut for the event.  There will be examples from individuals who have used the ICN for applications such as telemedicine, educational, library uses, etc.  A brochure will be handed out highlighting these stories.  The new ICN logo will be introduced at the event also.  Tami stated that a list of 700 will be invited to attend and asked for help from the members in connecting ICN sites throughout the state.  An invitation will be sent electronically to ETC and RTC members to forward to educators in their regions.  It is expected at this time that ICN sites included in this event will be view only sites, but the agenda is not final.  Tami agreed that the RTCs should coordinate which sites would be included in their regions.


John Gillispie provided overviews on the following ICN related items:


III.C.2.  ATM/MPEG 2 Progress

John Gillispie stated that as long as the weather holds, all the ATM/MPEG2 conversions will be completed by December 31, 2003.


III.C.3.  Possible ICN-Related Legislation

John reviewed the discussions that had occurred over the past months concerning the future ownership of the ICN.  The concept that John had put forward for discussion with users, telecommunications industry leaders and policy makers concerned whether the ICN backbone fiber and the core optronics could be separated from the functionality of the network with no impact to the user community and provide the state a lower cost of operation.  The ICN has provided decision makers quite a bit of information in a detailed write-up relative to the concept.  John discussed that he is not sure whether the legislature will take any action on the ICN.  He stated that the user community will need to stay abreast of these issues during legislative session to ensure that legislators know the importance of the ICN. 


III.C.4. Todd Bankruptcy

Todd Communications, the ICN video scheduling/switching software provider, has declared bankruptcy. A temporary solution has been put in place to cover support of that critical software.  Some of the individuals who formerly were employed by Todd Communications have formed a new company.  The ICN is negotiating a permanent solution for maintenance of the software with the new company.   Users should not notice any difference in video scheduling services. 

III.C.5.  Possible New ICN Services

John discussed several potential new ICN services.  The first is related to Internet network security.  During late July and August when there was a major outbreak of Internet worms and viruses, the ICN had a substantial number of K-12 institutions get heavily infected, generating Internet substantial traffic on the network.  The ICN is asking its customers if there is interest in services and products like intrusion protection, email filtering, virus detection software upgrades.  John reported that so far there is great interest from ICN educational customers in such services.  ICN is working at establishing prices for such services. 


The ICN has also been testing some point-to-point wireless technologies that provide the ability to carry data/video signals from an ICN POP over distances of 15-30 miles for connecting to other sites such as middle and elementary schools.  ICN has been working with various wireless providers in response to needs expressed by school districts seeking video and data capabilities to their non-ICN sites.  Mobile cart systems that are part of the wireless systems mentioned above are also being tested and are priced at $7,000.


For more information about the above issues and services mentioned above, as well as other services not mentioned, please contact the ICN.


III.D.    Digital Content Work for K-12

Bob Steingreaber, Coordinator of Instructional Resources for Southern Prairie AEA 15 in Ottumwa, provided the members and guests with an overview of the digital content work for K-12 being done by a digital content committee made up of AEAs, the State Library, IPTV, DE, ITD, and ICN.  During this school year, a majority of the AEAs have a contract for their schools to have Internet streamed digital content/video provided through United Streaming, a commercial vendor.  The committee is currently discussing how to identify which K-12 educational content might be digitized and delivered through means such as streaming video, downloadable video (via Internet) or datacasting via Iowa Public Television. Bob mentioned that in the foreseeable future, there will be a time when AEAs will not be delivering videos via vans but will be delivering most of their content via electronic mechanisms.


For further information, contact Bob Steingreaber at



Kathy Guilgot informed members that at the recent RTC 1 meeting via ICN, they invited House Majority leader Chuck Gipp from Decorah and Senator Mike Connolly from Dubuque to hear from RTC members about the ICN services being provided to the educational entities in their region.  RTC members emphasized that the video classrooms are not the only ICN service of importance to schools and colleges but rather the benefit is the large pipeline of bandwidth they now have access to.  To discuss the outcome of this meeting, please contact Kathy Guilgot at


Kay Runge strongly suggested that each RTC should hold meeting(s) with the legislators in their region, such as the meeting held in Region 1, to aid in the marketing of the ICN and the benefits it provides to schools.



Per Kay Runge who had to leave the meeting early, Mary Gannon apprised the members on the name change of the Public Library of Des Moines.  Effective January 1, 2004, the library’s name is Des Moines Public Library.  Kay’s email address was changed to  If you have questions, you may contact Kay at 515-669-1610.


Roger Rezabek, Director of Distance Learning at Hawkeye Community College since January 1993 and RTC 1 Coordinator since the fall of 1993, is retiring effective December 19, 2003.   He has 35 years of education and technology related experience under his belt.  He plans to act as a consultant and maintain his involvement in technology, as well as enjoy some leisurely time.   It will be a challenge to fill his shoes!  Good luck to Roger in his retirement.



The December 15, 2003, meeting of the Education Telecommunications Council adjourned at 11:18 a.m.  The next meeting of the ETC will be February 20, 2004, at Iowa Public Television.