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June 11, 2012
Greetings and welcome to this “Tech Times” edition of Monday Notes. As we approach the end of the school year, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about a new and exciting technology topic – fiber optics. Everyone knows that we need more fiber, but this is a different kind. It is actually glass that has been formed into long strands and can carry more information than the copper cables it will be replacing. A project called Vermont FiberConnect is poised to deliver high speed internet connections throughout southern Vermont, and soon the valley will see the results of this effort.
Vermont FiberConnect is a public-private partnership and project between the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) and Sovernet Communications. The project will receive a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The project will connect over 340 community anchor institutions (anchor institutions include all public and private K-12 schools, public libraries and colleges that elect to participate in the project) in the project area, encompassing seven of Vermont’s fourteen counties, including Windham County. Sovernet Communications will coordinate with the NTIA through the VTA. In addition to the grant, millions of private dollars will be invested in the project, building a fiber-optic “middle mile” network, which will provide high speed internet services along major routes that will allow “last mile” providers throughout the project area to connect and deliver high speed services to homes throughout the valley.
This project is designed to allow all of the schools and libraries within the entire Supervisory Union to be connected at high speed. This will offer the opportunity to engage our students in activities that go beyond the existing classroom walls. Students will have greater access to leading educational institutions throughout the state, possibly engaging in distance learning offerings. Having high-speed access will help our students compete on a level playing field in the ever increasingly technical fields. The long-term benefits are also large. Imagine a time in the not too distant future when our students can engage in an entrepreneurial internet-based business right from home.
As we approach summer, although the regular routine of the school day comes to an end, it does not need to mean learning has to stop. Technology provides us with the availability of learning new things every day, using the vast amount of information available on the world-wide web. For example, students could be encouraged to make a daily blog entry of their activities that could become the basis for an essay when they return in the fall. This would put a new twist on the old standard “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay that many of us did each year as the school year got underway. The new twist would be that not only would the students be updating their blog (or social network page) regularly informing their friends of the great achievements during the summer, but they would also turn their tech savvy into an easier way to complete an assignment. Or maybe they’ll use the GPS on their cell phone to plot a trip and take photos to record the places they went and people they saw. With the many things that technology can do these days, the only limit to the summer learning possibilities is their imagination.
Thanks for reading,