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Forsyth County Schools Adds Ethernet To Engage Students, Reduce Costs

Georgia's ninth largest school system, Forsyth County Schools, is enhancing its technologically dependent educational tools and reducing its spending by using a new high-speed Ethernet network.

On the educational side, the school district plans to use the Ethernet technology, provided by Comcast Business Services, to support streaming video, interactive whiteboards, mobile devices, and digital media for 38,000 students in 35 elementary, middle, and high schools. On the spending side, the Cumming, GA-based district said it will use online content ranging from streaming video, simulations, and digital material to cut $400,000 from what in 2008 was a $2.8 million bill for textbooks.

"Bandwidth is the key. The only way to have access to all that digital content is to connect the technology and infrastructure in support of it," Bailey Mitchell, chief technology and information officer for Forsyth County Schools said in a news release. "My view is that every time you increase the speed of the network, you are enabling incredible educational opportunities."

The district plans to implement a technology-dependent next-generation educational system with learning plans that match each student's specific needs, preferences and performance levels. With the school's high-speed Internet connection, students can access the Internet at home on their own or at school, the district said.

Forsyth County Schools launched a Bring Your Own Technology program two years ago. Today, about 80 percent--and growing--of the district's students use their own Internet-capable tablets, laptops, netbooks, and cell phones to work in the classroom. Forsyth County Schools has also launched the NOBLE (New Opportunities for Better Learning Experiences) Virtual World Project, a 3D virtual environment that's available to every classroom teacher in the district. Both initiatives are designed to help facilitate collaboration and engage students in more immersive learning.

According to information released by the district, Forsyth County Schools has the highest CRCT and ACT scores in Georgia and "some of the highest SAT scores in the state."

More information about the district is available at forsyth.k12.ga.us.

About the Author

Jim Barthold is a freelance technology reporter. He can be reached at jimbarthold@comcast.net.

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