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Dear Mr. Biden..

In a letter last week, technology companies urged the Biden administration to take action on improving the accessibility and quality of education during the pandemic and to focus on securing sufficient funding and resources for schools. In the letter, technology companies including Zoom and Instructure asked the incoming administration to support education through several initiatives, including funding state and local education budgets, staffing the Office of Education Technology, improving the collection of student assessment data and investing in professional development for educators. “We need leadership that understands the importance of personalized learning and is ready to leverage technology to transform teaching,” the letter reads. Betsy Foresman has more.

A Message From AWS Educate

With over 1,500 institutions and hundreds of thousands of students who use AWS Educate, we wanted to take you on a trip around the world and highlight how students are learning and innovating with the cloud. Learn more.

A win for contact tracing apps

Since launching its COVID-19 exposure notification app in August, the University of Arizona claimed last week that its high usage rates have reduced “the average number of people infected on campus” by as much as 12%. That 12% reduction would translate to an exponential decline in transmission, Joanna Masel, a University of Arizona professor of biology and evolutionary biology, said in the announcement. “A 12% reduction in that transmission doesn’t just mean that you have a reduction in that next wave of cases but every subsequent wave of cases,” Kacey Ernst, a University of Arizona public health professor who helped develop the app, explained in the announcement. “If one in eight can benefit from this, that’s pretty good. It’s easy to use, and the benefit keeps increasing as more people use it." Colin Wood has the details.

ASU shifts cybersecurity initiative online

A cybersecurity education initiative led by Arizona State University will receive a digital update next month as its Cybersecurity Education Consortium attempts to entice elementary and middle school students into pursuing careers securing IT systems. The consortium, which partners with local schools, community colleges and cybersecurity companies to bolster the cybersecurity workforce, announced earlier this month that its curriculum would be adapted for distance learning, a recognition of the wide adoption of hybrid teaching models during the pandemic. “Cybersecurity is an expanding field that has a growing number of unfilled positions, so we want to get kids interested in the field and moving into the pipeline of degrees and out into the workforce,” said Trista Zobitz, a project coordinator with the consortium. Colin has the story.

University loans devices for early childhood therapy

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently began loaning digital devices and Wi-Fi hotspots to families of infants and toddlers with disabilities for free so they can participate in virtual doctor visits. The Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse at UI typically provides in-person speech, occupational therapy and developmental therapy to young children, but since the pandemic has restricted face-to-face meetings, they university switched to a telehealth model. However, this meant that families without access to technology could not receive the therapy they needed for their children. Betsy has more.

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