PLANNING BEGINS FOR DIGITAL CALIFORNIA PROJECT

October 6, 2000

SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS

Los Alamitos, CALIF. — Creating the best possible digital learning environment is critical to sustaining California’s technology miracle. With $32 million in State funding, the Digital California Project: K-12 Statewide Network is underway to create a digital infrastructure to help prepare the next generation with the skills to excel in the network-driven economy.

The Digital California Project, or DCP, provides the framework for a cohesive and seamless statewide advanced service network that reaches into each of the State’s 58 counties. Once the network has been implemented, K-12 schools, districts and county offices of education will be able to connect their networks to the DCP and gain access to rich content resources for teaching and learning, to prepare students with the basic knowledge and specific skills to inspire them to enter and be successful in higher education and in the 21st century workforce.

DCP is the second major project of the non-profit Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), founded in 1997 by California’s major research and academic universities.

CENIC President, Tom West, has appointed Dave Reese as Chief Network Architect for the DCP. Eleven regional K-12 liaisons have been named by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association to assist Reese in planning activities regarding the establishment of the network itself, and to assure that the DCP network strategy accurately reflects the goals of its stakeholders.

A series of 11 regional meetings is underway by this network planning team. These meetings are designed to receive input and gain a clear understanding of each area’s specific needs to aid in the overall network planning and development. A similar planning team, with heavy representation from actual classroom teachers, will be formed to coordinate the planning for the applications, materials, information and other resources that will be made available on the network once it is in place.

Experts from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) have been hired to be part of the network planning team. SAIC is providing network consulting services for Phase 1 of the DCP; the first phase began July 1, 2000 and ends December 31, 2000. Based upon the data gathering and case study analyses, the network planning team can then propose the best locations for the DCP’s backbone hubs and county-based access nodes through which schools can access information and services available via this network.

“The network planning liaisons have been very active in getting the planning process started and we are on schedule with the established timeline. And, SAIC’s project management and systems integration expertise enhances our capabilities to get the network in place on schedule,” Reese said.

“Experts agree that it has become more and more important to integrate the telecommunications infrastructure needs of K-12 schools and universities statewide. For the last three years, California’s higher education community has benefited from the advanced capabilities of CalREN-2. So it makes good sense to extend this incredible tool to our K-12 learning institutions. DCP empowers K-12 students and teachers by providing access to the best resources available to enrich students educational experience and prepare students for successful careers in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century,” noted Thomas W. West, President of CENIC.

Members of the Network Planning Liaison Team include:

∑ Skip Sharp, San Diego County Office of Education

∑ Len Winkler, El Dorado County Office of Education

∑ David Barnett, Santa Clara County Office of Education

∑ Paul Tichinin, Mendocino County Office of Education

∑ Bill Engelhardt, San Joaquin County Office of Education

∑ Douglas Slonkosky, SBCSS Training/Conference

∑ Dr. Art Serabian, Fresno County Office of Education

∑ Bob Carter, Sacramento County Office of Education

∑ Russell Selken, Butte County Office of Education

∑ Mac Carey, Contra Costa County Office of Education

∑ James Magill, Los Angeles County Office of Education

The DCP builds upon the CalREN-2/4CNet high-speed, advanced services network infrastructure currently serving higher education. The enhanced network infrastructure of the DCP will –

– Allow students and teachers to collaborate with others outside the walls of the classroom, which will enrich teaching, learning and build skills that are increasingly sought by California employers.

– Provide cost-effective methods for teachers to supplement the information that appears in textbooks and is taught to students.

– Provide students with interactive learning opportunities and opportunities to hear and see information that can’t be captured by printed text or would be too costly to try to visit in person.

– Enable AP courses and other specialty courses to be delivered in a cost-effective manner in all geographical locations.

While today’s Internet is widely viewed as an effective means to provide information and a limited array of services to K-12 educators and students, it is insufficient to facilitate the comprehensive sharing of resources and the delivery of high quality programs and services. Although there are programs like the Digital High School Program and Federal E-Rate Program in place for developing the infrastructure at each school site and interconnecting the schools within a district, prior to the DCP no cohesive effort existed in California to address the need for connectivity among all segments of education and to provide K-12 schools with the advanced network services necessary to transfer information and services most useful in an educational setting.

CENIC is a not-for-profit corporation formed by the California Institute of Technology, the California State University, Stanford University, the University of California, and the University of Southern California to facilitate and coordinate the deployment, development, and operation of a set of seamless and robust advanced network services. The CENIC Associates program offers qualified companies the opportunity to collaborate with CENIC in pursuit of the goal of providing the most advanced network services for research and education. Cisco Systems, IBM, Pacific Bell and Sun Microsystems are CENIC’s Founding Partner Associates; AVT Corporation, General Atomics, and Raytheon are Affiliate Associates. More information about CENIC and the DCP is available at http://www.cenic.org .

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