Arizona District Increases Bandwidth for eLearning, Professional Development


Florence Unified School District in Arizona reported recently that it's increased its network bandwidth by 50 times to help bring Web-based learning materials into classrooms and to support other electronic initiatives. The district signed on with Trillion Partners to handle the broadband implementation.

Florence USD includes about 7,000 students, teachers, and staff at seven individual schools scattered across 955 square miles, which had previously required the district's IT staff to travel "hundreds of miles over the course of a year" to deal with networking issues. But as part of the new implementation, the district has established a centralized data facility and is augmenting its network monitoring and management through Trillium support services. The district estimated that the implementation is increasing IT by some 25 percent and is going to save about $100,000 per year on travel costs, staff time, and licensing fees.

The district is also using the broadband deployment to provide Web-based learning tools for classrooms, increase the number of distance learning programs it offers, and expand the distance learning programs it was already offering.

"Virtually everything relies on technology today from school business functions to instruction," said Nicole Steele, director of educational technology for Florence USD, in a statement released last week. "Teachers are expected to use technology tools in the classroom on a daily basis to improve student outcomes. Having a secure, reliable, high-speed network is mission critical. Students can learn more, faster."

Some of the programs being offered electronically to students and teachers include "virtual field trips, video conferencing for teacher professional development, and online dual enrollment courses from Central Arizona College for high school students," according to information released by Trillion. "The district also started a program to 'share' classes across the district by broadcasting high school courses and electives to students in multiple schools at the same time."

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David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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