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Accessing the connectivity revolution for education

Michael Foley's picture
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One could say that by being connected to the rest of the academic world through an NREN your isolation from research projects, high cost lab equipment, and world-class leading edge knowledge will disappear. If you are a physicist you can contemplate joining research teams using the Large Halidron Collider in CERN in Switzerland, an astronomer can manipulate in real time a telescope in Chile or access the data from radio telescopes, a medic can join in high definition seminars on advanced techniques in surgery or remote diagnostics, climate specialists can access and provide data to disaster management databases, an economist can access and contribute to economic modeling resources, and everyone can gain access to the thousands of on-line specialist journals.

Even without large international bandwidth NRENs can host mirror sites that keep local traffic local, a typical example being Digital Libraries which can download international journals and databases that need only be downloaded once to a country and then accessed at high speed on the country’s own high speed backbone. Another example of high bandwidth local use is the Country-wide Classroom project which is bringing IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) classes to cities in India without an IIT, and which runs on the currently being deployed National Knowledge Network, the $1.5 billion project of the Government of India.

How can you access these networks?

The first port of call for such an enquiry is to contact the Chief Technology Officer at your own institution and to enquire about the status of its connection to your NREN and of the speeds that you can expect on your office PC, your computer lab workstation, or your campus WiFi network. You can also look up the links to your own NREN, provided above, and see what services they provide and their plans for the future.

We invite comments, questions and suggestions on this exciting topic.


For more information of the growth of TEIN3, please see the feature story.

Click here to read the first part of the series.

Comments

Building upon the good work on education and research networks and the very valuable knowledge and experience of GDLN, I suggest: 1. South Asian regional cooperation networks are a powerful means to build the capacity of the region and to harness its collective strengths and overcome the limitations of individual nations and institutions. People to people cooperation is central to SAARC's mission. 2. SAARC University now being built in Delhi should be encouraged to play a leadership role and use RENs to connect its campuses in other SAARC countries as well as a develop a program of teaching and learning about online pedagogy and education material development. 3. Given the geopolitical reality of SAR, regional cooperation in specific areas will lead to closer cooperation at national level. Areas where there is little or no political disagreement should be taken up and RENs should be harnessed to connect individuals and institutions across the eight countries from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka creating a network for regional cooperation. For example, climate change and not disaster management; non-communicable diseases; areas of science and technology like nanotechnology and information and communication technology; and creation of South Asian regional domain to promote to emphasize the what is common between the peoples of South Asia over what divides them. 4. Open education resources (OER) have an important role in development of education in the region. Shortage of adequately trained teachers and freely available educational content that can be adopted, adapted and augmented for school education is a crying need. In this regard the "Seamless Education" Lucknow-CSULB Partnership is a good example. See http://iite.merlot.org/collab/index.html 5. Last, but not the least, GDLN experience is valuable and why not a South Asian Development Learning Network? World Bank needs to consider investment from regional cooperation funds, and trust funds, to establish the regional GDLN building upon the capabilities already created in the region, like the Sri Lankan Development Learning Center.

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