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Southeast Schools Find Solutions using the STAGEnet Video Network

School technology coordinators often struggle to solve technical problems as they are typically the only people in their building with a technical background. A group of technology coordinators have come up with a way to overcome this barrier.

Paul Jensen, Kindred Public School, Tim Keckler, Hope and Page Public Schools, Paul Ott, Central Cass Public School, Heidi Ekert, Central Valley Public School and Neva Hamre, Enderlin Public School meet via H.323 videoconferencing to brainstorm solutions, share ideas and catch up on new technologies. The H.323 technology lends itself to this type of informal and impromptu communication. Technology coordinators dial up one another after school hours and "drop in" to talk shop! Paul Jensen, Kindred Public School, said "Videoconferencing opens up another avenue of communication and reduces isolation".

Working Together to Meet Unique Needs

A Minot State University (MiSU) project, the ND Center for Persons with Disabilities, works with several Northwest schools to offer audio and visual services to special needs students. The services are delivered via H.323 video. MiSU and the participating K-12 schools are on virtual networks with firewall protection between them. Rather than using extensive firewall management to connect the sites, the ITD incorporated this project into the K-12 Network allowing schools to continue to receive the services they need.

Adapting Services to Meet Needs

STAGEnet video partners worked with members of the Southwest Pipeline of Information for Communities and Education (SPICE) along with the local telephone company to adapt to their roll out of MPEG videoconferencing. Connectivity rides over the ATM network that supports their video services. This allowed SPICE to avoid additional circuit costs and allowed them to take advantage of recycled equipment provided by STAGEnet.

Greater Bandwidth at Less Cost

The Greater Southeast Video consortium received a DS3 to connect schools in the consortium rather than having an ATM T1 installed in each building allowing them greater bandwidth at a cost savings. The cost savings is estimated at $500 for each of the twelve participating schools. They were able to recycle existing equipment to save additional dollars.

Urban Connectivity in a Rural Setting

With support from the ITD, the Great Western Network (GWN), a video consortium in western ND, built a new network on existing fiber from their previous analog network. The new network is used for both video and data. ITD staff was able to secure equipment to place on the network that separates data and video and connect schools with fiber at 1 gig. The cost consistent with the costs of delivering multiple T1s to each site in the consortium.

Taking Advantage of Location

Fargo Public Schools and West Fargo Public schools had existing fiber infrastructure to connect each of buildings. The ITD extended fiber to the core network at the Idea One building located in south Fargo. Both schools, along with the Skills Technology and Training Center (STTC), received increased bandwidth. The STTC facility was tied into both the K-12 and Higher Education network as the facility serves both populations.

Video Instruction Works

Thirty high school students from Alexander, Wildrose, and Stanley would not have had the opportunity to learn Spanish if it weren't for videoconferencing. From Williston, teacher Leslie Kline taught high school and college level Spanish to these students. According to Kline, the video students learned at a rate equal to her traditional classroom students. As a result, Kline plans to use videoconferencing to stretch her curriculum into additional schools in North Dakota.

Practical Nursing Degree Offered for Rural North Dakotans

Health care providers in Grafton, Langdon, and Rugby are now using videoconferencing to earn an AAS degree in practical nursing. Videoconferencing allows these place-bound students to continue working, remain in their communities, and be at home with their families while still being able to pursue an advanced degree from a distant campus. Lake Region State College and Williston State College are working together to offer this program.

Videoconferencing=Solution for ND Ranchers

Livestock producers from the Crosby area participated in a two-day Cow-Calf Management School held in Minot. The distance between Crosby and Minot coupled with the daily requirements of the livestock industry would have otherwise precluded the ranchers from attending the school. Surveyed on the use of the technology, the participants highly rated videoconferencing and look forward to participating in future events.

Success Stories

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.

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