Though it may have gone unnoticed by most K–12 users of Internet2, in the 2 years since the publication of my article, Internet2, K–12 and Librarians, in the September/October 2006 issue of MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, the available bandwidth for this powerful network has increased dramatically. Now capable of moving along at 100 gigabits per second, Internet2 (I2) provides powerful new potential for the research and education communities to take advantage of an ever-increasing range of options for high-speed applications that change the way students and educators learn and teach.
Muse: A Project of the Internet K20 Initiative
According to Carol C. Kuhlthau, Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari in their book Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century, one of the primary responsibilities of the school librarian is to provide access to high-quality resources for inquiry " both inside and outside the school." They identify these experts in the local community as "the public library, museums, and other community agencies."
In this regard, one of the most significant developments for Internet2 users in the K–12 community is the creation of a new social networking site, Muse (http://k20.internet2.edu). This resource vastly enlarges and enhances the world of experts available to our students. Muse provides access to others in the national Internet2 community and the international advanced networking community for research and education. In addition to finding other teachers or librarians, Muse surfers can learn about applications that take advantage of the rich resources available over the network that might be of interest to school librarians and to the teachers in their schools. Registered users may share information, develop collaborations, and invite others to participate in their projects.
The Muse site allows easy location of and communication with other teachers and librarians as well as with subject-area experts in the higher education and research communities, with resource providers from museums, zoos, science and performing arts centers, and with other nonprofits working with the education community. Additionally, the website provides background about Internet2 by interest category and also includes a link that users can use to easily determine whether their school network is connected to Internet2.
People registering on Muse identify areas of interest by indicating whether they are a member of a school or higher education community, a librarian, a teacher of a specific subject and grade level, a researcher, an information provider, and so forth. Since registered users can generate tags for topics that interest them, it is possible to identify a number of potential areas that might provide useful connectivity with other users.Additionally, the website allows visitors to see others with related interests who have registered in Muse. Muse users can invite one another to become friends, send public musings to others, or have a private conversation with another member. Since registration information includes the user’s home institution and its location, it’s possible to search for other registered Muse members in geographically specific areas.
Muse is a rich resource for learning about what others around the globe are doing, planning, and considering with advanced Internet2 technology. Additionally, all projects posted on Muse allow users to subscribe to an RSS feed so that they may receive updates.
Resources for Internet2 Professional Development
The social networking available through Muse provides a place for collaboration and new learning. Additionally, some new and exciting professional development opportunities for Internet2 users have recently become available. Broad overview lessons about how schools may effectively use videoconferencing are still available from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (www.cilc.org). And content providers such as The Cleveland Museum of Art (www.clevelandart.org) and the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) now offer professional development that helps teachers learn about the institution’s available resources and provides guidance in helping prepare their students for videoconferencing.
The Pocono Mountain School District (PMSD) in northeastern Pennsylvania has taken a leadership role in Internet2 professional development through the creation of its Internet2 Pioneers program (http://k20.internet2.edu/projects/45), which provides support and opportunities for its teachers to use Internet2 technologies. The PMSD Internet2 Pioneers participate in the MAGPI professional development videoconferences (see next paragraph) and are encouraged to collaborate within the district as well as with schools and other institutions outside of the school district. These Internet2 pioneers will not only initiate projects enabled by Internet2 technology, they will also support their colleagues and offer them guidance in exploring and developing Internet2 learning opportunities.
MAGPI (http://magpi.net/programs/index.html), the advanced regional network and Internet2 provider for Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and the application developer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, offers a variety of professional development videoconferences, from developing collaborations to virtual reality and gaming. MAGPI also provides forums for educators to learn about new opportunities available in the arts and humanities, math and science, and the social sciences.
In addition to these opportunities, MAGPI has recently developed a new model for regional professional development. In the spring of 2008, the first year of this program, educators from MAGPI’s regional advanced education network were invited to apply to become MAGPI Fellows. Successful candidates participate in on-site and virtual training about high-quality videoconferencing, high definition videoconferencing, remote instrumentation, digital library sources, virtual reality, and more. The Fellows work in partnership with one another to design educational content that is integrated into their classroom curriculum to share with the rest of MAGPI’s membership and with the Internet2 K20 community.
The experiences available to K–12 learners connected through the Internet2 high-bandwidth network continue to grow, enriching their learning opportunities and opening the world to them in exciting new ways. From students in grades K–3 meeting other students across the country and sharing Flat Stanley adventures (www.magpi.net/programs/flatstanley.html) to high school students and beyond exploring and discussing issues relating to the topics of science and medicine in film (see the sidebar; www.magpi.net/programs/sciencecinema.html) to students meeting with students around the world during Megaconference Jr. (www.megaconferencejr.org) to students working together to develop and share their own videos to better understand youth violence (see the sidebar; www.magpi.net/programs/youthviolence.html), engaged subject-area teachers and school librarians are taking advantage of the resources in Muse and elsewhere. They can now share information and ideas with their colleagues around the world, guide their students’ learning in new ways, and discover opportunities for them to control instruments remotely so that they may explore microorganisms, the ocean, the skies, and develop new virtual worlds. Internet2 and the high-bandwidth international advanced networking community for research and education provide the networking resources necessary to meet the needs of our globally connected 21st-century learners!
Erika Miller is the librarian at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Science and the Cinema
Matthew Conforth, director of educational technology for Passaic Valley Regional High School in N.J., worked on this film and discussion videonconferencing project to provide an opportunity for students to connect with subject-area experts simultaneously to encourage students "to use higher level thinking skills to form their own conclusions. The more students have the ability to participate in open dialogue with experts in the field, the greater chance they have of separating fact from fiction."
From some students: "I now realize that there is much more to science than what we study in school."
"I give so much credit to all scientists trying to make a difference around the world, and dedicating your life to society …" "I loved this entire videoconference experience because it was more interesting than reading a book, or writing notes. The entire experience was awesome."
"The benefit to the students is extraordinary as they can recount their learning even after the event is over. It is a springboard for many discussions about science and the role it should play in our communities. There are few lessons in school that can leave that important an impression on our students."
"The students were definitely buzzing about it … many of them initially thought that scientists are distinctly different from the rest of the population and they were definitely a little intimidated. From their comments, not only did you provide them with a lot of interesting information, but you changed their impressions in a very positive way."
Participating scientist’s remarks:
"These programs and individual initiatives are extraordinarily important, and the more contact we can have with
students, I believe, the greater our chances of improving the appreciation, magnitude, and quality of science."
Youth and Violence, A Global Perspective
Exploring Issues Through Digital Art
Daniel Daniel, art teacher at Coloma Jr. High School in Michigan, says that through the Youth and Violence, A Global Perspective—Exploring Issues Through Digital Art project, his students learned a great deal about other cultures. They developed the realization that kids everywhere experience violence, although they may come from other countries or have different socioeconomic backgrounds. The students identified and explored the three most important types of violence, a pursuit that was meaningful to themselves and relevant in their school communities. Hollywood professionals provided guidance to the students in developing their videos.
Since their creations were so relevant and the videos were an excellent way to share their work, the collaborating schools learned important lessons from one another. The process helped the students develop new understandings about youth violence while making connections and finding ways to address painful, real experiences, including loss of life from an overdose and a school knifing incident, as well as bullying and threats.
Kuhlthau, Carol C., Leslie K. Maniotes, and Ann K. Caspari. Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century . Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007. p. 57.