'Super Magnet' High School Delivers Curriculum over High-Speed Network

T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), January 1996 | Go to article overview

'Super Magnet' High School Delivers Curriculum over High-Speed Network


Dallas Public Schools faced several challenges when they set out to develop the data communications network for Townview Magnet Center, a landmark "super magnet" high school that opened in August.

On one site, the college-preparatory Townview school combines six Dallas-based magnet high schools specializing in discrete academic disciplines from health and science to government and business. It provides more than 2,500 local students -- of all ethnic and racial backgrounds -- with software applications as well as access to CD-ROMs and the Internet.

The heart of the technology is a campus-wide, fiber optic-based local area network that relies on high-speed 3Com LANplex switches and LinkBuilder FMS II stackable hubs. This LAN connects locations to a centralized media distribution system offering videotapes, satellite programs and cable TV telecasts, and to a CD-ROM library with 14 towers containing seven CDs each.

The 3Com network also delivers Internet services and serves as the wiring for Minicom's ClassNet, a classroom screen- and keyboard-sharing and control system which enables teachers to observe students' computer activity and project it onto a large monitor for the entire class to view.

Teachers and students, who are using both IBM-compatible and Mac computers, can connect to any of these learning sources from any classroom within Townview's 375,000 square-foot facility.

* "Real-Time Relevance"

"The network provides the real-time relevance that educators have been after for so long," says Ora Watson, Townview's executive principal. "It's a dramatic departure from textbook learning that lets students instantly obtain timely information from sources they could never have accessed before."

Dallas Public Schools for years has utilized computers to teach programming and other computer-driven tasks. At Townview, however, students explore a wide range of academic subjects, aided by the scalable network.

For example, students can connect to other high schools and to labs at Southern Methodist University to receive remote interactive instruction on a variety of medical procedures. They also can access popular applications such as Microsoft Office and Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia, or output documents to laser printers.

The network backbone supports 700 Macintosh and 400 Compaq systems, a server "farm" of 11 Compaq Proliant NetWare-based file servers with 10GB RAID 5 storage, plus 300 laser printers. …

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