Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Internet 2 and School Libraries: The Time Is Now (More Than Ever)

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Internet 2 and School Libraries: The Time Is Now (More Than Ever)

Article excerpt

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Internet2. What does this word mean to you? Maybe it conjures images of a mythical realm off-limits to the masses of web-surfing plebeians. A forbidding place where computer engineers and the academic research elite speak in esoteric computer programming dialects and move terabytes of data through big pipes at the speed of light.

To Chad Lehman, a library media specialist at Horace Mann Elementary School in West Allis, Wis., Internet2 is helping transform the school library into the heart of digitally enabled innovation and learning in his school. As we shall see, Chad's story is one that is being repeated in thousands of K-20 institutions across the country. So what is Internet2, and why does it matter to K-12 schools and libraries? To answer these questions, let's start at the beginning.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

The internet we all use on a daily basis, sometimes referred to by the technology community as a "thirty-year overnight success," has its roots in the 1960s as the special-interest projects of a small band of university-based computer scientists and researchers. In the decades that followed, the internet's growth rate was relativity slow and largely confined to this academic research environment.

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In the late 1990s, animated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Science Foundation Network's (NSFNET) "privatization" efforts, the creation of the World Wide Web, and the Mosaic web browser, the internet grew exponentially in every direction, all at once. It became a boundless global community with 1.5 billion users worldwide, countless commercial ventures, and, more recently, an explosion of images, video, audio, and other streaming data flows. Today's internet--the commodity or commercial internet --has recognized a number of limitations including security and authentication problems, IP routing bottlenecks, "quality of service" performance issues, IP address shortages due to the growing proliferation of mobile devices, and the unquenchable thirst for more bandwidth. All of this left the internet's creators and original inhabitants--the research and education community--in need of a new and even greater online environment purpose-built to support discovery, learning, and understanding.

In 1996, the research and education community created Internet2, a not-for-profit advanced networking consortium. Internet2 also refers to the dynamic, innovative, and cost-effective 100 gigabit hybrid optical and packet network run by the consortium. Today, Internet2 consists of more than 200 U.S. universities in cooperation with 70 leading corporations, 45 government agencies, laboratories, and other institutions of higher learning as well as more than 50 international partner organizations.

Additionally, in 2001, the Internet2 consortium launched the Internet2 K20 Initiative to extend network access to K-12 schools, public libraries, baccalaureate colleges and universities, community colleges, and a host of cultural organizations such as museums, science centers, zoos, aquariums, and performing arts centers. The K20 Initiative connects numerous state and regional research and education networks to the Internet2 national backbone network.

Today, more than 60,000 K-20 organizations (K-12 schools, public libraries, etc.) are connected to the Internet2 network across 38 states. See the map of the state education networks connected to Internet2. Because the Internet2 network peers with other advanced networking efforts internationally, what has been created is a sort of global education network enabling unprecedented levels of collaboration across all education sectors, both within the U.S. and around the world. Internet2 also serves as a "test bed" where new advanced network applications and technologies can incubate and evolve. …

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