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Distance Education via Videoconferencing Reaches 2000+ Students

One hundred fifty seven ND schools have video networking capabilities. Ninety nine of these schools are using H.323 IP video transmitted on STAGEnet while others are using analog, MPEG2 or microwave technology. In fall of 2002, 2,376 students are enrolled in 166 video courses. Numbers are expected to increase in January 2003 as additional high school sites will begin offering courses over their H.323 networks. STAGEnet video partners, including the ITD, IVN and EduTech, work together to offer planning and implementation services to participating schools.

Sharing Solutions Save Dollars

Eureka and Bell are small schools in Northwest ND who qualify for a T1 internet connection under SB 2043 but do not need this level of bandwidth based on their small student population. The ITD and EduTech worked with these schools to provide an appropriate level of bandwidth at a more reasonable cost than a T1. The districts receive DSL internet access via the main router at Minot Public Schools.

This technical relationship initiated the sharing of other resources. Minot Public School provides Eureka and Bell Schools along with several neighboring schools (including Nedrose, South Prairie, Bishop Ryan, St Leos and Little Flower) access to their First Class system. First Class provides information and services to staff members in these buildings for information sharing and professional development.

STAGEnet Human Infrastructure

STAGEnet is governed as a partnership between government and education. The governance structure consists of three committees. The Executive, Management and Technical committees include representatives from state and local government, K-12, colleges and universities, interactive video network, and voice communication. These committees aid in planning, prioritizing, approving standards and policies, making service level decisions, coordinating among constituencies, communicating, and identifying and providing resources. This "human" side of the network is essential to the progress of STAGEnet.

EduTech Connects Teachers to "Live" Underwater Videoconferences

EduTech and the Aquatic Research Institute, Inc of Chicago have been collaborating recently to conduct videoconferences between divers on site in Chicago and teachers in EduTech workshops at selected sites in North Dakota. Aquatic Research Interactive (ARII) is based out of Chicago and is dedicated to increasing public awareness, knowledge and understanding of the aquatic environment through distance learning/ videoconferencing and outreach programs. ARII offers a series of distance learning programs for the K-12 level throughout the year. All programs are curriculum and standards based and designed to integrate with K-12 curriculum. Programs are highly interactive and include pre and post classroom activities.

The first program was entitled "Diving into Geometry" and involved 34 math teachers attending EduTech's November mini-conference on Math in Minot. The videoconference gave the teachers the chance to participate in learning activities and discussions with Diver Jim located - where else? - under water in a swimming pool somewhere on Chicago's east side. Participants were asked to measure, record, analyze and interpret geometric shapes and sizes in one, two and three dimensions.

"Diving into Toys Underwater" was the title for the December videoconference conducted in Valley City for a group of 40 elementary teachers attending the mini-conference on cross-curricular activities. The participants interacted with the scuba divers in an underwater adventure on buoyancy; directing their actions through a series of experiments with familiar and favorite toys. By making predictions about how their toys will behave on land and underwater, the participants discovered the scientific method of science inquiry.

The videoconferences were a success due to the committed, collaborative effort between staff at ITD, IVN and EduTech. Sites and connections were tested prior to the event to ensure quality of delivery. The extra time and patience in the troubleshooting and testing paid off in the long run. The videoconferences gave teachers the opportunity to experience the use of STAGEnet and their H.323 units for learning experiences beyond their consortiums, and even beyond state lines.

IVN Growth from June 2001 to November 2002

Since early 1990 there existed 12 campus/college sites which include one site at Jamestown State Hospital for the delivery of ND University System programs and courses. There were also five tribal colleges. Click here to view a site map for June 2001 (12kb gif).

IVN purchased and implemented H.323 video scheduling and bridging technologies to significantly expand IVN's services within NDUS, state and local government, and K-12 schools. Concurrent with the complete technology overhaul, the system has grown to closely 200 sites to date. Click here to view a site map for November 2002 (18kb gif).

In addition to the colleges, universities and tribal colleges there are now eleven K-12 school consortiums and fifteen NDSU Research Extension Centers located throughout the state. The number will continue to increase by Spring 2003. The NDUS has twenty programs now delivered either partially or fully through IVN.

Success Stories

EduTech provides spam filtering for all sendit e-mail users. Spam filtering reduces the amount of spam mail that users receive. Spam is unwanted junk mail that often contains inappropriate text and images for K-12 students. The feature is on by default for all users. The service is provided at no cost to K-12 users.

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