IP Networks Help Deliver 21st-Century Education in ’Classrooms Without Walls’
Cisco Connected Learning Technology Helps Improve Student Learning and Teacher Productivity.
ORLANDO, Fla., March 23, 2006 - As K-12 schools use more technology to help them provide students with a 21st-century education, Cisco Systems® today highlighted three schools that serve as models for Cisco Connected Learning for Schools, a technology blueprint. These three educational sites - a large school district in Florida, another in Texas, and a small high school in Arizona - are taking teaching and learning to the next level, enabled by a single, converged Internet Protocol (IP) network.
“Cisco Connected Learning starts with having the right network in place to connect all school buildings and to enable access to critical information,” said Charles Fadel, global lead of education for Cisco. “From there, schools can continue to add applications and services that not only improve administrative efficiencies, but go beyond to enhance teacher and student productivity and create student-centered learning environments. As evidenced by these and many other educational sites worldwide, Connected Learning is about transforming education to help schools create ’classrooms without walls.’”
Network Helps Kids in Sunshine State
The school district of St. Lucie County, the 26th largest in the state of Florida, comprises 40 schools and about 36,000 students. Helping students meet the state’s indexed learning standards while providing equal educational access is at the heart of the district’s technology mission. According to David Jasa, the district’s director of management information systems, building out the network foundation to support a variety of voice, video and data applications, without compromising speed or reliability, was the first step. “We knew that whatever applications we ultimately wanted to run on the network, or which wired or wireless devices we would select as cost-effective learning and teaching tools, that it all started with having the right network in place,” said Jasa. “Connecting our schools and our district today with a single, converged IP network allows us to grow and evolve confidently and cost-effectively.”
Jasa points to St. Lucie’s One-to-One Initiative, which calls for the provision of a one-to-one technology solution for every child in the county, as further proof of the ease with which new devices and educational applications can be offered from a single IP network. St. Lucie County is piloting the use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) at an elementary, a middle and a high school. Students use the wireless devices to receive homework assignments or to browse the Internet. The PDAs also increase student and teacher interaction and productivity. For example, students record reading passages into their PDAs, which are downloaded and graded by the teacher outside the classroom. This not only saves valuable classroom time, but it also provides a more direct method for individualized and perhaps confidential instruction. Teachers are also providing educational content and resources to the students’ PDAs, enabling students to access the information for remedial or specialized instructional needs.
“We have found that the students are more engaged and seem to be more involved with the learning process,” said Mary Krause, executive director of teaching and learning, Title 1, for St. Lucie schools. “The One-to-One Initiative provides students with access to their curriculum and class work on a 24-hour basis. We want our students to be able to approach learning seamlessly, with no barriers to access the Internet, word processing and other applications.”
Fast-Growing Schools Turn to IP-Based Wireless
The state of Arizona and the town of Katy, Texas, are two regions that have witnessed dramatic increases in both the number of new schools constructed and the retrofitting of older schools.
Katy’s Independent School District needed to upgrade its existing network. At the same time, Katy decided to replace its aging multiline private branch exchange (PBX)-based telephone system, which was plagued by spotty telephone service, insufficient phone lines and the lack of key voice services, such as voice mail. To address these challenges while enabling the delivery of additional educational resources, Katy implemented a converged IP network along with Unified Communications upgrades for the phone system. The new network’s highly reliable connectivity, 800 new wireless access points and IP phones in all the classrooms have spurred the delivery of expanded educational programs, such as videoconferencing and streaming video, and significant improvements in district and parent-teacher-student communications.
To keep pace with its rapid growth, the city of Vail, Arizona, has been opening one new school per year. Empire High School, whose 330-student population is soon expected to more than double, is one of the newly constructed facilities in the district. To differentiate Empire from other district high schools, while developing a more relevant, real-world educational environment, Empire elected to deploy a laptop-based instructional model, equipping all students with laptops while eliminating all textbooks from the classrooms.
Empire was designed and built from the ground up with a converged IP network, with wireless access points and security products incorporated into the building design. Students instantly connect their laptops to the network to access the daily curriculum and other instructional materials, and teachers are able to deliver content to the students through the school’s new learning management system. In addition to the wireless network and student laptop usage, Empire has also improved its correspondence among students, teachers, parents and the staff with a new IP phone system and Unified Communications tools.
Cisco will be demonstrating its entire suite of K-12 education solutions at Cisco booth #1286, at the Orange County Convention Center, March 22-26, at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). In addition, Woody Sessoms, vice president at Cisco, will discuss the state of education in the United States on Thursday at FETC, from 12:30-1:25 pm EST. For more information, visit www.cisco.com/go/education
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