Statewide Networking for Government and Education Panel


Moderator: Laura Larimer, Chief Information Officer, State of Indiana
Panelists: Shaun Abshere, WiscNet, State of Wisconsin
David King, Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System
Bill Mitchell, MOREnet, State of Missouri

Shaun Abshere is talking about an organization that I'd never heard of called StateNets.  StateNets is an organization of non-profit and public groups that manage state K-20 networks.  Our own UEN, for which I'm on the steering committee, is a member.  He is giving some impressive composite statistics about the member networks.  Our state uses our education network as our ISP.  This is just one form of cooperation that exists between UEN and the state network managed by ITS that saves costs.  There's probably other avenues we should pursue as well.   

Bill Mitchell is showing a video on Missouri's state education network.  A few things on the technology side that look enviable include smart boards in each class room and one PC for every two students.  The video also shows how technology is being used in the classroom and I think is quite compelling.  It makes the case, through several examples, about how teaching styles can change to one that encourages students to explore the information themselves in ways that they can't in a traditional classroom.  For example, gather data, graph it several ways, and then make a judgment as to which presentation is more meaningful and what conclusions can be reached.  I've seen this in my own children's as I watch them use Google to do homework.  I wish I'd had the web when I was a kid.  I can remember spending hours at the public library trying to find information about electronics and being sorely disappointed. 

Apparently, state education networks are now allowed to join Internet 2 and 25 states have done so.  Utah is not among them even though I know that the University of Utah is a participant.  I wonder why that is?  They are discussing the speed of the network and the kinds of things that it enables in education.  Of course, the other side of that is that it put incredible pressure on the state's internal network to keep up.  I hear, from time to time, laments from UEN steering committee members and others (including the legislature, I'm sure) about the bandwidth increases and the costs of carrying the traffic that results from people using the network.  Its clear to me from watching technology trends that we're really just getting started.  At some point we'll see MP3 file sharing (at least from the bandwidth viewpoint) as a non-issue because students will be sharing DVDs.  Reminds me of when the University of Idaho tried to shut down online interactive games because of the bandwidth it required (at the time Idaho had a 56K line that we shared with Washington State University).  Now, I'm sure interactive games are not even a blip on the network.