Technology Infrastructure | News
New Jersey District Shifts to Fiber for Tech 'Without Limits'
- By Dian Schaffhauser
In an effort to support a slate of school technology initiatives, a district in New Jersey has moved its underlying communications network to high-speed fiber.
River Dell Regional School District, with one middle school and one high school serving about 1,615 students and 142 faculty and staff, contracted with Optimum Lightpath in 2010 to replace the existing "inadequate 3 megabit bandwidth connection," according to Director of Technology Marianthe Williams. The vendor is a division of Cablevision Systems.
The district now runs on Optimum's metro Ethernet network, which provides 100 megabit Internet access to its schools. The company offers Ethernet-based voice and data services to organizations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The school purchased an "education services suite," which includes data and voice over IP service.
Williams had been an Optimum customer in a previous district and knew "that I could take advantage of the best service and value by working with them again to fulfill all of [the district's] telecommunications needs," she said. "And while cost savings certainly factor into decision making for any project, it is ultimately the ability to improve student achievement that drives any project undertaken in the school."
The goal for her, she said, was to enable instructors to allow students to use Web 2.0 technologies and other classroom learning tools "without limits."
Those include a one-to-one computing initiative, interactive whiteboards connected to tablet computers, the use of Skype to connect classes with other schools via the Internet, and delivery of student-produced programming on the Web-based River Dell TV.
Other New Jersey districts, Cresskill Public School System and Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401, have also used the company's education suite.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.