Where are we going? Institutional and Infrastructural Perspectives

Cline, VanderVeen, and Wixom,
Session number: 7

Gary Wixom Utah System for Higher Education

Richard Cline
Utah Education Network

Todd VanderVeen
Center for High Performance Computing, University of Utah

As we enter the 21st century, math and science achievement is becoming more important in competing in the world economy. A chronic shortage of engineers, scientists, researchers and technicians points to a national problem with math and science education. Part of the solution is to provide increased opportunities for students to master math and science foundation skills early in their undergraduate studies. Technology-based courses can help provide those opportunities to students. The Western Governors University and the Utah Electronic Community College are providing math and science courses to a wide variety of students in a format that lends itself to mastery of basic competencies.

Utah Education Network serves Utah's educational community, provides local and worldwide access, and acts as clearinghouse for services. UEN's current infrastructure consists of two separate and distinct networks - one high capacity, analog network for the delivery of broadcast quality video and audio, and one high speed digital network for data communications. The promise of "network fusion" is to combine the delivery of audio, video, and data services into a single delivery of audio, video and data services into a single delivery system. It is anticipated this will reduce hardware and ongoing expenses while still maintaining a high quality and effective system for the delivery of educational resources. UEN's delivery systems include: EDNET, Utah's two- way, interactive, video conferencing system for distance learning, UtahLINK, Utah's Internet connection for distance learning, and Broadcast Television, KUED - Utah's PBS affiliate and KULC - for distance learning.

The University of Utah has capitalized on Utah's progressive investment in technology infrastructure in a project called ASPIRE, the Astrophysics Science Project Integrating Research and Education. Adopting a network-centric, Java-based software model ASPIRE is working to develop interactive science labs. While the lessons currently being produced are intended for use in the secondary school system, aspects of the production of these materials, as well as their distribution and maintenance, could readily be extended to all levels of instruction. A review of these processes reveals the dependencies on underlying infrastructure, exposes some of the obstacles faced, and indicates some of the needs of similar future initiatives.

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Last Update: 10 November 1999