Internet2 Access Expands Education
A student with a bad cough and another sharing secrets with a classmate are typical classroom interruptions for Alma College Music Professor Ray Riley. But on this day the disruptions to Riley's lecture come from 567 miles away delivered clearly by Internet2 access.
Presenting "QuickTime Development and New Media" to a Illinois State University class taught by ISU Professor David Williams, Riley and Phil Warsop, Alma's assistant director of Information Technology, broached a new technology frontier. As one of a few small liberal arts colleges nationwide to connect to Internet2, Alma College has new educational opportunities.
"Traditional modes of instruction, learning, communication and research are being transformed to such a great extent by what Internet 2 makes possible," Riley says. "Time and space are no longer barriers to forming global learning communities and connecting educational institutions with a wealth of experts, data, images, and sounds that reside in research facilities, classrooms, art galleries, databases, museums, and concert halls all over the world. Alma College is now a collaborator in this high-performance network and will hopefully be inspired to push the limits of this technology in even more creative ways."
Researching Internet2 applications during his Winter Term 2002 sabbatical, Riley found the high-performance networks provide high-fidelity audio and full-motion video that allow distant classrooms to collaborate and communicate without loss of nuance or meaning. The students in Williams' distant class followed in real time a QuickTime tutorial run by Riley in Alma's Strosacker Collaborative Learning Center.
Students have more learning tools available by connecting Alma with distant institutions. In Michigan, the large state research institutions, some regional secondary education districts and Ford Motor Company are connected to Internet2 via the Abilene Network. The network is a coast-to-coast private backbone that operates at 10 Gigabits per second, approximately 1,000 times faster than the speed of most common local area networks operated by businesses and educational institutions, and 200,000 times faster than a home dial-up connection.
Dr. David Reed, Alma's director of Information Technology, says the Internet2 future is hard to predict, but is designed to be a means of high speed communication and information exchange for research, scholarly, and public purposes. Since its inception in 1984, the original Internet has been taken over by personal and commercial information.
With Internet2 speed (the entire contents of the Internet can be transmitted in two hours) Alma can get advanced Internet applications that require greater capacity and higher quality of service. Students will have more access to information and demonstrations to enable learning.
"We expect that this kind of video exchange of faculty will become more commonplace as we strive to give students opportunities to interact with instructors with special expertise from all over the nation and even the world. We are looking to our faculty and staff to develop other applications, as well," Reed said.
Alma College has been connected to Internet2 for almost two years. During the 2002-2003 academic year, the college went through a complete reconstruction of its local area network to increase capacity and reliability for all users. User desktops went from 10 Megabits per second to 100 Mbs, and the backbone went from 100Mbs to 1gbs. As part of this effort to increase the availability of network services, a fiber optic connection installed to the Internet service provider, the MERIT network, doubled the capacity of the College's Internet connection.
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Posted: Mon, October 25th, 2004 at 5:17PM