Author: Charice Carroll

Charice has been working with educational technology for over 25 years and still gets excited about sharing new tools and solutions with teachers all over Utah. She has served on the UCET Board for 10 years as a board member, president, and currently as the Advocacy Representative. Her day job is working at UEN as a Distance Learning Specialist for the past 20 years.

Great Tech Tool (Most) Teachers Aren’t Using

Imagine you are reading a book as a class and you could have the author in your classroom to let students ask questions and interact with them. Imagine being able to bring in a Chemistry teacher or professor to conduct experiments that you may not be able to do on your own. Imagine being able to collaborate face-to-face with teachers in your building, district, or around the world without ever leaving your desk. What if I told you there is a tech tool available to every classroom in Utah that will allow these very activities, and more, but very few teachers are using it? This FREE technology is known as Interactive Videoconferencing; you may also know it as IVC, Hangouts, Facetime, Skype, or Acano. Never heard of Acano? It is a desktop conferencing tool available to Utah teachers for free through Utah Education Network (UEN).

We all know that most students learn best when they can immerse themselves in an experience rather than just reading it in a textbook. With this technology, students are able to really interact with a guest speaker or location, all without leaving the classroom. Many museums, zoos, and par ks now offer virtual field trips to their facility where you can learn about various topics, take tours and speak to subject experts. Talk to a scientist from NASA; take a look at exhibits at the Smithsonian; interview the mayor of your city; bring in a musician to perform – the possibilities really are only limited by your imagination! 

The equipment needed is a computer, network connection, webcam and microphone (most laptops have these built in), and a program. Some organizations that do this often have a service that they will connect you with, but if you want to do it on your own, you can use any of the programs listed above. A quick plug for using UEN's Acano service; when you use the free Acano client, UEN will help you test it out and make sure it is working on your network from your classroom. There is also a number you can call if you are having trouble and they can help you get it resolved. The cool thing is that the person you are bringing in doesn't need the client, you will just send them a URL link to the event and they can click to join. 

There are so many opportunities for expanding the borders of your classroom, it just takes a little organization and the willingness to give it a try. Summer is a great time to make contacts and arrange to have a guest speaker come to your class next year! 

If you have questions about getting started, feel free to drop me a note at

Legislative Panel Discussion at UCET 2017

Can you feel the excitement building? One week from today is the big day, UCET 2017 Conference! I know I am getting excited to participate, renew friendships, learn and share with fellow educators over two very full days. I have been attending UCET conferences for more years than I care to admit and it just keeps getting better! Every year seems to out-do the last with innovative sessions, keynotes, and activities – and 2017 is no exception! 

We are excited to announce the addition of a legislative panel discussion to be held during the final session on Friday. This panel of special guest speakers will include participants from the Governor's Office of Education, the Utah State Board of Education, and the Utah Legislature. Don't miss this opportunity to hear from these officials about the 2017 Legislative Session, plans for the future of Utah education, and other great information. Mark your schedule for Friday the 17th, 2:15-3:15 in the Union Ballroom. I invite you to join hosts Derek Larson and myself, Charice Carroll, for this amazing chance to get up close to our representatives and policy makers. Look for it in the NEW conference schedule at and put this session in your backpack!

Can't wait to see you at UCET 2017!

Democracy: A “contact” sport

I received an email from ISTE, of which UCET is an affiliate, with an update of some of the events that have happened on the national stage that affect education. I thought it would be interesting to our members to pass along some of the information. Remember to get involved in advocacy efforts and contact your federal Congressional Representatives to express your feelings either in favor or against any of the measures coming before them. Let your voices be heard, for example, on how you feel about the bill, co-sponsored by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, that would abolish the Department of Education. You can find your representative and their contact info by going to: and

Remember, Democracy is a "contact" sport!

ISTE Advocacy Update

DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary: This week, the US Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education on a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie vote. Immediately after the vote, Vice President Pence swore in Ms. DeVos. Thus, she has officially begun her job as Secretary. No word yet on whom she will name to run the Office of Education Technology.

ESSA Implementation: Also this week, the full House of Representatives voted, using its authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to rescind regulations approved by the previous Secretary to govern the accountability and teacher preparation provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The accountability regulations established a timeline for states to identify and implement remediation measures for their lowest performing schools. The Senate appears poised to approve this repeal and the President is reportedly prepared to sign the final legislation.  Should these last two steps occur, the CRA would bar the Department of Education from reissuing the old rules or approving new rules that are "substantially the same" as the previous rules. If the repeal occurs, it is not clear if the Department of Education can or will issue any new rules or guidance to help guide states in implementing those portions of ESSA.

Lifeline Program: Late last week, new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he had decided to revoke the Commission's authorization of nine telecommunications companies to serve as broadband providers for the Lifeline program, effectively blocking implementation of the Lifeline program's transition to broadband. ISTE strongly supported the inclusion of provisions in last year's Lifeline modernization order that allowed low-income recipients to use their Lifeline subsidies for broadband and not just voice services. Allowing broadband support in the Lifeline program represents a significant step in connecting students without Internet access at home and helping close the "homework gap."

ISTE joined with 16 national public and private education and library associations (which comprise EdLiNC) in condemning Chairman Pai's action in a joint press release: "This decision will significantly hamper efforts to help close the homework gap for thousands of low-income and rural students, preventing them from gaining access to online resources, to college and employment applications, and to their teachers and peers. We cannot understand the need to block the roll-out of the Lifeline broadband program now and urge the Chairman to reconsider this action."

E-Rate: Simultaneous with his Lifeline decision, Chairman Pai issued an order that would rescind the Commission's findings, issued late last year, on progress that the E-Rate has made in ensuring  robust Wi-Fi in schools and libraries and broadband fiber connections to their buildings.

ISTE and its 16 allies called-out this action in the press release mentioned above, saying: "E-Rate has done more to connect America's public and private schools and public libraries in the past 20 years than any other state or federal program and EdLiNC remains steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the strength and viability of this program. We urge the Chairman to reconsider this action."

Get Ready for the 2017 Legislative Session!

It is almost time for that most wonderful time of the year…the Utah State Legislative Session.  Beginning January 23 and running through March 9, the 2017 session promises to be exciting and, as always, to have a big impact on education.  Several bills have already been filed that will affect different areas of education and more bills are expected.  If you are interested in keeping up with the latest happenings at the State Legislature, there are several resources that can help you track bills and other events. Some of the more helpful sites are:

Utah State Legislature:

The official page of the State Legislature is the best place to get updated info on Bills and other happenings during the sessions. It also has helpful tools like a list of all legislators and their contacts, a feature to look up who your representatives are based on your address, and live streams and recordings of many proceedings going on during the sessions.


USBE Legislative Page:

The Utah State Board of Education page includes documents outlining the USBE Legislative Priorities and tracking of Education Bills. One of the best features of this page is the “Public Education Legislative Summary” that is available after the session has concluded. This gives a really concise overview of all the outcomes of the session. It includes archives of past sessions, which can be interesting for comparative purposes.


UEA Issues & Action Page:

The UEA has a team that spends countless hours at every legislative session and keeps a detailed record of how the session is proceeding. In addition, UEA sponsors the “UEA Educator Day on the Hill” every Friday during the session for all educators who would like to become involved. The schedule and more information can be found on the above page.

The Legislative Session can be an uncertain and stressful time for educators. The more we stay involved and informed, the better we are prepared to make a difference in our profession.

Education in the New Year

There are a lot of questions floating around about what is in store for education with a change in the White House. With a new Secretary of Education, who has limited experience in education but favors vouchers and charter schools, time will tell what affect it will have on the landscape of educational technology. 

In an attempt to address this uncertainty, the ISTE Advocacy Network quarterly newsletter includes an article about what a Trump-Pence administration might look like for  ed tech. The article points out that there are a lot of questions, but also some positive signs to watch in the education technology world. For example, the article quotes a 2013 interview with incoming Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos: 

“While DeVos has a limited record on education technology, she has said favorable things about its value in the past. In a 2013 interview, she said: “I think digital learning is in its infancy relative to the influence that it can and will have. That said, I’m amazed when I watch my not-yet 2-year-old granddaughter navigate an iPad and go to whatever game or program she wants. Every parent knows how quickly children pick up new technologies. It would be unconscionable not to embrace that and use it to help kids achieve their full potential in every way possible.”

Every change in administrations is a little uncertain, but as educators we are very good at advocating for our students and adjusting to a changing world. 

To see the full article and learn more about what the Trump-Pence Administration could mean, read the ISTE Advocacy Newsletter here.


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