Confused About E-Rate? We Can Help

April 10, 2012
Kelsey Herron
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, United States
CATEGORIES Common Sense Resources, Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Policy

It’s important for students and teachers to have access to new technologies in the classroom, but we all know that finding ways to integrate technology into our schools is challenging, especially with shrinking budgets. The School and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, more commonly referred to as “E-rate,” was designed by the FCC to help schools combat this roadblock. Through E-rate, schools and libraries can apply for significant discounts on Internet access and telecommunications to connect students to 21st century technology.

As great as this opportunity is, it also comes with plenty of paperwork and requirements. The newest of those mandates is outlined in the Children’s Internet Protection Act and requires that, by July of 2012, all E-rate recipients provide education on appropriate online behavior, including interacting with others on social media sites, cyberbullying awareness, and response. Basically, educators will need to teach students how to use all of this new technology responsibly, which is where Common Sense Media can help.

Our free E-rate toolkit has lessons for grades K-12 that directly address Internet safety, cyberbullying, and security. The kit also contains as hands-on resources every educator and administrator needs to provide CIPA-approved digital citizenship education; however we also recommend verifying this process with your school’s lawyers because there is little guidance from the FCC on this requirement.

Lessons include videos, activities, workshops, and assessments for the classroom, as well as parent-outreach materials and a selection of core lessons from our free Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum. We also offer help creating an audit-proof paper trail demonstrating how you’ve turned your strategy into action and our Administrators’ Annual Implementation Checklist has a step-by-step guide to help you carry out policy-standards.  Educators should watch this video for more information, and administrators may find this video helpful.

The toolkit has two main pages, one for administrators and one for teachers. Each page contains:

  • Two overview presentations explaining E-rate
  • An implementation guide
  • Collection of K-12 lessons organized by elementary, middle, and high school grades
  • Parent outreach materials
  • Verification documentation to record evidence of what the school has done

We here at Common Sense Media want to prepare your students to thrive in a world of new digital media and technology. E-rate is complicated, but providing the education doesn’t have to be. Our toolkit has all you’ll need to easily follow new policy standards and greatly improve the digital literacy education your students need to stay safe and connected in today’s sea of information. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] at any time about this toolkit or any of our resources.