According to this data posted by K12HSN, 17% of schools state-wide are connected to the Internet (and, in turn, Internet2) at 100 Mbit/s or higher. What I found nifty is, upon zooming into the local schools here in San Luis Obispo County, that number jumps to 67% (fifty seven out of eighty four). You can see other data for SLO here. (You can zoom in on other areas of California there as well). With this foundation, some intriguing possibilities now exist.
Quick background: K12HSN is a state program funded by the California Department of Education, providing Network/Internet connectivity and related services to K-12. Through K12HSN, schools get access to CENIC/CalREN and, as a result, Internet2 as well as, of course, the Internet. CalREN, the California Research and Education Network, is specially designed to meet the unique requirements of these communities, and the majority of the state's K-20 educational institutions are connected to it. CENIC oversees CalREN and coordinates other related services for California public educational institutions. Internet2 is an R&D platform, for various research institutions both public and private (and, if you're under the impression that Internet2 is just about high speed connectivity, a bunch of network geeks, and some talk about tele-medicine, look here as well as as some of the following links to see how it's being used in the performing arts).
With this as a backdrop, interesting possibilities have emerged for local K-12 students. Here are some ideas:
- The SLO County Office of Education could host an Internet2 Day where research projects and applications are demonstrated to promote awareness and spur ideas in the minds of researchers (read: students, teachers). Projects/applications discussed and demo'd might include collaboration, health sciences, arts & humanities, and science & engineering. It would reach across all disciplines.
- The "economies of scale" necessary to have live expert guest lecturers teaching students statewide via video conferencing (and here). I'm talking about having the top professors, researchers, artists, politicians, etc. speak live to students across the state and have the capacity to take real-time Q&A from students. Sure beats watching a passive recorded video on television! And it's sure to intrigue students who might easily overlook great thinkers sitting still on a textbook page in front of them. You get the benefits of serendipity, live action, interaction, and young minds all rolled into one. This same infrastructure could be used to publicize to the larger student body things like state-wide competitions, which, at least traditionally, only the local and regional winners of contests have been able to visit when they head off to compete at the higher level. Why not spread the inspiration around?
- Got more ideas? Post 'em!