Kentucky’s Internet2 Initiative was recognized as the 'Most Innovative Use of Technology in Education' at the Commonwealth Office of Technology’s (COT) third annual Kentucky Digital Summit. As part of the Best of Kentucky awards, Kentucky’s Internet2 initiative was chosen from nearly 50 possible nominees for making outstanding information technology contributions to the public sector.
Internet2, a national initiative since 1996, is a high-bandwidth, high-performance network dedicated to education and research. Internet2 applications offer interactive access to information and resources, such as remote instrumentation or high-speed video conferencing, in a way not possible on today’s Internet.
“As the world becomes flatter, the Kentucky P-20 education community must be in a position to bring the world to the classroom by using these applications to engage students and teachers,” said Dr. Lee Todd, president of the University of Kentucky. “Integrating these tools into the curriculum becomes imperative for developing the 21st century skills for Kentucky students.”
Kentucky’s Internet2 Initiative is a collaboration of numerous organizations. In addition to the Council and COT, the partners include the Kentucky Education Cabinet, the Kentucky Department of Education, Educational Professional Standards Board, ConnectKentucky, the Center for Rural Development, Kentucky’s public colleges and universities, K-12 school districts, Windstream and AT&T.
Nationally, the Internet2 networking consortium is comprised of more than 200 U.S. universities, 70 leading corporations, 45 government agencies, laboratories and other institutions of higher learning as well as over 50 international partner organizations. In Kentucky, the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville are existing members of Internet2 and have access to the Internet2 backbone.
In 2005, Kentucky joined as the 34th state in Internet2’s Sponsored Education Group Participants (SEGP) program under the sponsorship of the University of Kentucky. This opened Internet2 access to public colleges and universities, K-12 schools and state agencies and departments within the Kentucky Education Cabinet.
A few examples of how Internet2 can enhance and expand instruction and research in Kentucky’s education system include:
- K-20 interactive collaboration – A science teacher in Owsley County can dissect an anatomical specimen for her class and discuss this virtual dissection with researchers at Murray State University and Stanford University in real time;
- Resource-sharing – Math teachers in Taylor County can interactively participate in professional development workshops conducted live from University of North Texas and Western Kentucky University without leaving their classrooms;
- Remote instrumentation – A student in Frankfort High School taking a biology class can operate a microscope located in Lehigh University in real time;
- Digital libraries – A student in Bowling Green can perform simultaneous, intelligent search and retrieval of KET’s rich reservoir of videos, Kentucky History Center’s oral tapes and artifacts, and Filson Club’s photographs as she works on her multimedia assignment on Western Kentucky’s history; and
- Performing arts – A student of violin in Paducah can audition or take a master class with the Manhattan School of Music via Internet2 videoconferencing with low latency in audio and video transmission.
To allow all of Kentucky’s education system to access Internet2 applications and resources from one central network, the Kentucky Education Network was established in 2006. KEN is a high-speed statewide network that supports audio and video-intense learning and research, and is scalable and adaptable to support future growth.
“The Kentucky Education Network breaks down the physical and political boundaries between secondary, postsecondary and adult education and allows for sharing of rich content and resources throughout the P-20 system,” said Al Lind, vice president for information and technology at the Council on Postsecondary Education. “In tight budget times, this type of resource-sharing and innovation is vital to ensure we keep moving forward.”
To further meet the growing demands for networked information in teaching and learning, the Kentucky Regional Optical Network (KyRON) was developed in April 2007 to connect Kentucky to one of the 26 nodes in the U.S. for the new Internet2 national backbone. KyRON is the next generation network that brings advanced networking resources into Kentucky classrooms or wherever teaching, learning and research occur.
For more information about the Kentucky Internet2 Initiative, visit i2.ky.gov. For more information about the Kentucky Education Network, visit ken.ky.gov.