'Internet2 Day' showcases the future of education and research
By Cara Branigan, Associate Editor, eSchool News
March 22, 2004
More than 10,000 students and faculty members from schools and universities across the nation tuned in to the first virtual Internet2 Day March 18 to witness firsthand a series of projects that take advantage of the Internet2 network's ultra high-speed capacity.
In one demonstration, a jazz sextet from the Manhattan School of Music used the Internet2 connection at Columbia University to broadcast its performance live to Internet2 Day participants. Because of the network's high-speed capacity, the audience was able to watch the concert in real time with the highest-quality video and stereo sound.
"With Internet2 it's like watching television or 16-millimeter film live, as oppose to watching video on the (commercial) internet, which is small and keeps fading in and out and needs to keep buffering," said Christianne Orto, director of recording and distance learning at the Manhattan School of Music.
While musicians playing together still must be in the same room physically, music educators are using Internet2 for a handful of advanced music classes where a student and a master teacher are in different locations.
"There is still latency; there is still an inherent delay because music is so precise and in sync," Orto said, but the video and sound quality that is transmitted is so high and so fast that music teachers can successfully instruct students as they play.
In another Internet2 Day demonstration, Case Western Reserve University displayed its MediaVision Courseware, which uses Internet2-based streaming technology to allow students to interact better with their course material. Presenters said that after college-level chemistry students began using the software, the number of students getting A's increased.
Another project featured an electron microscope that is used and controlled over the Internet2 backbone by educators and students in remote locations.
Used primarily by research universities, Internet2 was launched seven years ago to develop advanced networking applications that could be transferred to the commercial internet.
Led by more than 200 U.S. universities working with industry and government partners, the initiative develops and deploys advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education, in effect creating a super-fast, "next-generation" internet.
Although the main focus of Internet2 is higher education, 32 state education networks now connect to Abliene, a 10 gigabits-per-second backbone used to access virtual laboratories, digital libraries, distance-education facilities, and tele-immersion projects.
More than 10,000 high schools are taking advantage of the ultra-high-speed access and advanced learning opportunities offered to them as part of the K-20 Internet2 Initiative, which consists largely of outreach projects by participating Internet2 universities. For example, middle-school students at Emerson School in Ann Arbor, Mich., can use the University of Michigan's Internet2 connection to operate a scanning electron microscope at the university.
Throughout the year, Internet2 organizers also hold local events for participants to highlight their accomplishments to date and reinforce what is possible. But to reach even more people, the events' organizers this year took the conference to the web.
"It's the first time we've held Internet2 (Day) virtually," said Laurie Burns, Internet2's director of applications programs and member activities. In total, about 30 presenters discussed their experimental Internet2 projects with the goal of creating a greater awareness among faculty and students of the capabilities of Internet2.
Forty campuses also held local events in conjunction with Interent2 Day. Many streamed the day's activities in auditoriums for students and faculty to witness, Burns said.
"On each campus there's outreach to do--helping people understand the capabilities of these technologies," Burns said. "We really focused today on our members. We really think of Internet2 Days as a member benefit."
K-20 Internet2 Initiative: http://k20.internet2.edu/index.php