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School tech task force grapples with laptop questions, online course funding

Idaho's school technology task force, charged with figuring out how to implement plans for buying laptop computers or other devices for every Idaho high school student and teacher and implementing state school Superintendent Tom Luna's “Students Come First” reform plan's new focus on online learning, is meeting today and tomorrow in the Capitol Auditorium; you can listen live here. The task force is now hearing a presentation from Professor James Basham of the University of Kansas on “Universal Design for Learning;” you can see the full agenda here.

Among things that have come up so far today: Three vendors have expressed interest in Idaho's statewide contract for the computing devices so far, as the state moves through its “request for information” phase prior to issuing a request for proposals. Also, a subcommittee of the task force is developing a request for information for a statewide contract for online courses. Approved online courses would have to be taught by a teacher with an Idaho certificate, but the teacher could be located elsewhere. Later this morning, the task force is scheduled to hear a presentation on technology and services for the deaf and blind, and discuss the controversial “fractional ADA” funding formula in the reform law that shifts a portion of a school's per-student state funding (known as ADA, or Average Daily Attendance) to an online course provider if that student chooses to take an online course from the provider.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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