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Internet2 - Now Showing at an Internet Connection Near You!
Posted by Kylie McGee on Thursday, September 20, 2007
Networks have changed from passive platforms for applications to active participants in the delivery of 21st century education. You see this every day as you utilize the Internet more and more for administrative and instructional use. But, did you know there is another Internet network that is faster and available just to the education and research communities? This network is commonly called Internet2 and it is available to you today!
What is Internet2
Internet2 is actually a consortium created to provide leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities to facilitate the development, deployment and use of revolutionary Internet technologies. Started in 1996 as a consortium of 34 universities, Internet2 has grown to over 300 members including more than 200 U.S. universities working in cooperation with 70 leading corporations, 45 government agencies, laboratories and other institutions of higher learning as well as over 50 international partner organizations. The original members of the Internet2 consortium created the Abilene Network primarily to support research and education. Internet2 has recently announced, and are in the process of deploying, their third generation network.
The original Abilene Network was a high-performance, 2.5 Gbps U.S. backbone network which was upgraded to 10 Gbps several years ago. The third generation, 100 Gbps Internet2 network drops the Abilene name and is simply called Internet2. Another group of researchers and higher education institutions created a similar consortium that created another, separate high-performance network called the National LambdaRail (NLR). NLR is a high-speed national network that runs over fiber-optic lines. These two networks are pursuing a merger which will create the Internet2-National LambdaRail (Internet2-NLR) network, unifying the research and education community.
Abilene and National LambdaRail: Why Such Unusual Names?
Story has it that the name Abilene was chosen because the project resembled the ambitious creation of the nation's railroad infrastructure, the frontier of which was started in the 1860's in Abilene, Kansas. In keeping with this analogy, the term LambdaRail was applied to the other national optical network as it unifies fiber optic (light or lambda) technology with the metaphor of railway transportation.
Internet2 is a separate physical network from the public "commodity" Internet that you use every day. The research community created this separate network in order to ensure higher levels of bandwidth and quality of service unavailable on the "commodity" Internet. While this network is relatively new to the K-12 community, it has been operating for over 10 years in the research and higher education community. Internet2 is a test bed for new network technologies that will eventually make its way to the public Internet. The "commodity" Internet network you know today is open to everyone, but the Internet2 network is a private network for research and education. Access to the Internet2 network is restricted to education and research institutions and authorized users. ENA is a member of Internet2 and our network is connected to the Internet2 network allowing us to bring this new technology resource to your desktop.
How Fast is Fast?
Much of the research is based around Internet2's current high-performance backbone, called Abilene, which runs at 10 Gbps. Internet2 is in process of upgrading the network to 100 Gbps using different wavelengths transmitted over fiber-optic cable. At 10 Gbps per second, you could transfer a feature-length, DVD quality movie in 30 seconds, and at 100 Gbps it would take just 3 seconds!
Internet2 is Fast, but Not a Magic Bullet
No matter how fast the Internet2 network operates, once it connects with your school or library network, the available bandwidth will be based on your site's network configuration. Typically, a T1 line is not sufficient to utilize the new technology applications available through Internet2. To take full advantage of Internet2 applications, you should consider 10 Mbps or greater for Internet and district connectivity. There is tremendous educational value to the Internet2 network, so talk with your ENA Account Service Manager (ASM) for assistance in planning your connectivity needs to utilize this new resource.
What is the Internet2 K20 Initiative?
The national Internet2 K20 Initiative was developed to bring together Internet2 member institutions and innovators from public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities, libraries, and museums to extend new technologies, applications, middleware, and content to all education sectors "as quickly and connectedly as possible". Simply stated the Internet2 K20 Initiative is a way to extend the Internet2 private network to the K20 community. This is facilitated through the Sponsored Education Group Participation (SEGP) program. This program allows expanded access to the Internet2 network for state and regional education networks sponsored by Internet2 university members. There are 38 states now offering K20 education agencies access to the Internet2 network through SEGP "connectors" including Tennessee, Indiana, and Florida schools.
The goals of the Internet2 K20 Initiative include:
- Enhancing teaching and learning by facilitating project that explore the ways in which advanced network applications, services, tools and digital content can extend access to education and educational resources.
- To bring K-12 and library innovators into the advanced networking efforts to promote user driven innovation from the K-12 educational community.
- To encourage and sustain partnerships among education institutions, private sector and government.
- To develop a mechanism for communication across all education sectors to enable quick and pervasive technology diffusion.
What Does Internet2 and the Internet2 K20 Initiative Mean to Me Today?
Internet2 enables an endless array of powerful new applications for teaching and learning. So far, the most popular uses of Internet2 include:
- Real-time learning and real-time discovery through Videoconferencing and Remote Instrumentation
- Accessing rich multimedia digital collections through Digital Libraries
- Innovative ways to Communicate, Collaborate, and Contribute through creating new collaboration communities
- Creating new learning opportunities through Distance Learning
- Initiating enhanced Global Awareness through engaging International Learning Communities
- Creating New Knowledge by sharing experiences and expertise
Your peers and colleagues are doing amazing things with access to Internet2. Let's take a look at a few examples of innovative technologies and applications using Internet2 that are inspiring education in new ways today.
ImagiNations Remote Instrumentation Project, Lehigh University
The ImagiNations project introduces K-12 students to electron microscopy and nanotechnology. The Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology (CAMN) at Lehigh University uses Internet2 to offer K-12 students real-time remote access to the XL30 ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope). Scale and surface area animations are available for the students' interaction, along with interactive image magnifications on the project website. See: http://lehigh.edu/~inimagin/
Megaconference Jr. - Chester County Intermediate Unit, PA and MAGPI
Megaconference Jr. is the first student-led international videoconference learning event for K-20 schools. This all virtual H.323 videoconference brings together students and teachers from around the world to showcase curricular project initiatives, increase cultural awareness and broaden understanding of the role advanced networks have in the 21st century world. In Megaconference Jr., students are involved in all aspects of the conference including planning, technical implementation and script writing. A primary goal of Megaconference Jr. is for schools to form sustained collaborative projects to extend the learning environment to the world outside the classroom. See: http://megaconferencejr.org
Music Bridges: K-12 Faculty-Driven Music Programs - Manhattan School of Music, St. Clair County Intermediate School District, MI
Manhattan School of Music's distance learning program is partnering with Michigan's St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency to present music programs delivered via interactive video conferencing over Internet2 advanced networks. St. Clair County, which includes 57 schools across 7 school districts, will receive offerings such as American Composers, A Personal Introduction to Opera, and the type of custom telementoring sessions that require the high-fidelity, broadcast-quality streaming audio and video available over Internet2. By eliminating the barriers of time and distance, Manhattan School of Music's faculty and student-teaching artists can extend their expertise to students and audiences around the country. See: http://www.msmnyc.edu/special/video
Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)
CILC, a not-for-profit organization, provides consulting services for educators and develops tools and resources to improve learning through the use of video conferencing and other collaborative technologies. They are dedicated to providing premier video conferencing services and program content. Their website is a global hub and marketing channel offering educational content and networking opportunities to support and inspire educators to be highly effective. CILC is highly involved in the Internet2 K20 Initiative and provides guidance on how schools can use Internet2 and video conferencing as a cost-effective and interactive technology to motivate individuals to collaborate and learn. See: http://www.cilc.org
And What's on the Horizon?
The education and research institutions that originated Internet2 continue to work on developing revolutionary Internet technologies. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the founding members of the Internet2 consortium, the use of the Internet2 network includes two of the latest technologies: tele-immersion and distributed telepathology. Tele-immersion involves connecting users in geographically distributed locations as if they were in the same environment and distributed telepathology enables live analysis of complex medical images by experts around the world. Neurosurgeons can now video conference with other experts in the field during an operation in a high resolution format with no apparent time lag. New concepts being tested include the ability to conduct complex surgery from remote locations using robots and medical experts. These are just a few examples of the ways Internet2 will change how we educate, live and work.
Many fields have been able to use the Internet2 network to foster creativity, research, and development in a way that was not previously possible. Of course we can talk a lot about "killer applications", unlimited bandwidth, and seemingly Star-Trek like scenarios, but the real story around Internet2 is about eliminating the distance between people. So, stay connected and get involved because the future value of Internet2 is all about you and getting your community engaged with this new and exciting technology.
If you are attending NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) in Atlanta, please join us for a workshop on Internet2 being offered on Sunday 6/24/07 from 8:30am to 11:30am, titled, "Internet2: Extending New Technologies, Applications, and Content". The workshop will highlight how institutions, innovators, and schools use Internet2 to create international learning communities. See how schools are using rich digital libraries and remote instrumentation to create new knowledge and opportunities. The workshop will be conducted by Internet2 luminaries including: Ruth Blankenbaker, Executive Director of the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) who also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Internet2 K20 Initiative; John Fleishman from the Sacramento County Office of Education and a member of the Executive Committee for the Internet2 K20 Initiative; Holly Jobe with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (PA) and a member of the Internet2 community; James Werle, the Associate Director of the Internet2 K20 Initiative; Jan Zanetis a leader in videoconferencing with Tandberg; and, associates from ENA. Please note that there is a fee for this workshop. See the Program Details section of the NECC website:
Spread the Word
Every ENA-connected school and library in Florida, Indiana and Tennessee is connected to Internet2 and can already fully participate in this community! We are looking for ways to increase awareness and usage of Internet2. If you are interested in joining a working group to help us spread the word, please contact Monica Farner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to Learn More?
Here are some resources for you to learn more about Internet2: