Regional Service Center networks exist to aid educational entities throughout the state of Texas. Among other services, they provide access to the internet, access to video conferencing services, data center backup, disaster recovery transport, backhauling, and voice over ip. These services enhance regional networks; however, the most important element of these services is their relevance to the classroom. The Strategic Plan for the Texas System of Education Service Centers recognizes this and highlights TETN and the content specialist as key to reaching educational goals (a pdf of the document can be downloaded at http://www.texasresc.net/strategicplan.htm
). This focus on content at the State level should be reflected regionally, as well.
Surprisingly at the regional level, many education entities have taken steps to eliminate or combine content positions for their network. In doing so, these entities have eliminated or hindered a direct connection to classroom learning. This connection to the classroom is what sets educational networks apart from commodity networks and defines regional broadband networks as education specific.
Content specialists filter through the huge amounts of information on the internet and direct users to specific tools. They design programs that utilize state specific content standards, deliver events customized to fit the needs of specific districts, manage grant opportunities, and provide relevance for the host of other services available on education specific networks. A regional content specialist acts as a value added for districts struggling in this economy. These specialists facilitate the use of the network for educational purposes and, in doing so, reinforce the significance of the services regional networks provide.
The content specialist is valuable tool. Districts that cannot afford specialists take advantage of the global connections, the statewide collaborations, and the expert knowledge provided by regional content specialists. In Region 14, specialist Tommy Bearden is able provide individualized attention to school districts and seek out valuable RUS grants for distance learning infrastructure. As a result, teachers, district staff, and students receive training and resources that help them to thrive.
The effectiveness of this position at creating constant revenue streams is another unrecognized benefit of the content specialist. It is no coincidence that service centers with established content positions have more active network communities and engage more local school districts. Content specialists help provide a connection to our sometimes sterile technologies, generating customers by engaging classrooms with the educational subject matter available on high bandwidth networks. Laurie Hogle, with RETN in FortWorth, recognizes the content specialist role in helping schools “move beyond boxes and wires,” generating the need for network services while making direct connections with educators.
Programs like Marvelous Mammals, a collaboration between Region 11 and Discovery Education, utilized the national Internet2 network to provide once-in-a-lifetime content to schools throughout the state; service centers like Region 15 connect schools with institutes of higher education for dual credit options; and a host of advanced internet web applications (like those found at http://www. tetnplus.net/advancedapps.aspx
) are available to students that utilize the Education Service Centers’ high bandwidth networks.
The key to utilization of the network services is the content specialist. Content specialists make the connection between education networks and learning blatantly obvious to customers by saying, “This is the service we are providing, and here is how you use it in your classroom.”
The truth is we are distinguished from the commodity internet by the content on our network. We do things like offer lower prices and focused support, but in the end it all has to connect to the classroom. Our technology must be at the service of pedagogy. If we neglect this connection, we are one step closer to our customer asking the question, “Why should we go to you for our network services?”
Processor: 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent
Memory: Windows XP 512 MB RAM or More
Windows 7 32bit: 1GB of RAM or More
Windows 7 64bit: 2GB RAM or More
Internet: IP Network Connection (at least 24kbps required for audio/at least 128kbps for video)
Processor: Any Intel processor
OS: MAC OS X 10.6 or later
Back in May of 2007, the Norwegian company Tandberg created MOVI 1.0, a SIP based videoconferencing software client. MOVI 1.0 was initially just a component of ActiveX, and could be used through a client initiated HTTP connection to a MOVI server. By 2009 MOVI 2 was released which added a new provisioning solution which led to what MOVI is today. Since CISCO acquired Tandberg in April 2010, MOVI has been renamed CISCO JABBER, which is just MOVI 4.3 (*The last version of MOVI with Tandberg’s name attached was 4.2*).
In order to use CISCO JABBER/MOVI 4.3, you must go through TMS, and CISCO’s VCS Control & Expressway. To clarify, a person can go and download CISCO JABBER 4.3 with no problem, but they cannot just dial anyone they want as soon as they install it, like they would with Skype. The use of CISCO JABBER 4.3 must first start with your system administrator. Once you download the CISCO JABBER client,your next step will be contacting your system administrator in order for them to give you a username and password. This username and password is created within the TMS provisioning directory by your system admin (*if you have not downloaded a pre-configured JABBER client then your system admin will also help you create the settings needed for JABBER to work *). Once all of the technical requirements are squared away the real fun can begin.
One of the most important features in desktop videoconferencing software is ease of use. To this end CISCO JABBER is fairly easy to operate. When you open the client the following screen appears.
Underneath the user name is the blank space for you to type in the IP of the endpoint you wish to dial. Once you type in the IP just press the enter button to make your call. When the call goes through there are 7 icons to become familiar with(see below).
In the picture above JABBER is connected to TETN’s own CODIAN bridge. Underneath that are the icons referenced above. From left to right the icons are:
1. Show Self View (which allows you to see a small PIP window, so you can verify what others are seeing from you)
2. Camera (which allows you to turn your camera feed on & off)
3. Microphone (allows you to turn on, or mute your microphone)
4. Speaker (to adjust volume)
5. Screen (click to go fullscreen)
6. Share Presentation (if you have a power point to share, make sure the power point is open on your desktop, click this button, and the other participants will see your presentation)
7. End (to end your call)
One other thing you may notice in the screen capture above is a camera icon on the far right side of the screen. When you turn off your camera or microphone those icons pop up on the side to help you keep track of your camera and microphone status.
From a new user/participant perspective, CISCO JABBER appears to be fairly user friendly. The keys to using the software successfully would be installing it on a PC with at least a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor (for MAC users OS 10.6 or later), communicating with your system administrator during the installation process, and familiarizing yourself with the icons before you begin your conference. It also doesn't hurt to have great bandwidth.
In the next blog entry for this series we will take a look at Lifesize’s Desktop Conferencing Software “CLEARSEA”, and will look at how it differs from CISCO JABBER.
TETN Video Network Specialist
Info for this blog post was gathered from the following sources.
The Regional Innovators Award highlights innovators throughout the state of Texas who have made unique efforts to develop content and create educational programming for students. These innovators understand that our network is defined by its content. Without innovative content, the importance of our statewide and regional networks is greatly diminished. By continuing to develop unique educational opportunities for educators and students, these innovators help to ensure the continued success of distance learning initiatives throughout the state.
JoAnn Roe is an Educational Consultant in the Education Technology Department at Education Service Center Region 11. JoAnn is an innovator in remote broadcasting, utilizing a satelite trailer to bring previously unreachable locations to state and regional classrooms. Programs such as Live from the Dairy Farm and Live from the Dublin Dr. Pepper Bottling Company are successful in large part because of her efforts to coordinate use of the satellite trailer and market the events throughout the state.
Perhaps more notable are JoAnn's personal appearances. Coordinating with experts at the Arlington Archasaur Site, JoAnn took on the persona of Indiana Jo and taught students about the catastophic wildfire that ravaged the Texas coast. Later in the year JoAnn became Jingle Jo, a holiday elf who gave students a global perspective on holiday celebrations.
Whatever the situation, JoAnn's commitment to educating the students throughout Region 11 and the State of Texas has set her apart as an innovator in distance learning content. TETN would like to honor her contribution by highlighting her as our first Regional Innovator. Thank you, JoAnn, for your hardwork and dedication.
Today’s world of video conferencing, like everything else, is changing faster than anyone can imagine. We are a long way from the days when the only way people could talk over video was using two radiofrequency video links running in each direction. (a setup employed by NASA and other government agencies as far back as the early 50s) In today’s world of video someone in New Zealand can have a video chat with someone in Alaska in a matter of seconds if they have a laptop, access to Skype, and a good internet connection. For a network like TETN that supports H.320/H.323 multiparty video conferences, software like Skype will not work, and that presents a significant problem as clients want to participate in large conferences without having to travel over 30 miles to do so. Luckily all of the various video conferencing companies have been developing Desktop Video Conferencing Applications.
A Desktop Video Conferencing Application is software that can be downloaded to your computer that enables the user to connect to an H.323 video conference from their PC through a SIP gateway. To use this software all you need is a computer with preferably a 2GHZ processor, an internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone. Applications like these are essential to expanding TETN’s current video structure. These applications will enable teachers without video conferencing equipment to participate in trainings, kids without equipment to participate in virtual field trips, and enable those on the go to participate in a TETN session from anywhere with an internet connection. This blog series will cover the solutions available from companies such as Cisco, Polycom, and Lifesize. We will look at the computer requirements needed to run these programs, and what each program offers the user that others don’t. Please check back here next week when we take a look at CISCO’s JABBER, formerly TANDBERG’s MOVI.
April 26, 2012 12:30 - 1:30 PM CT
Audience: Grades K-3
The Bush Library Education Department will be hosting “Musical Storytelling, Character is the Key”-a storytelling event for grades K-3. Featuring presenter Bobbee Pennington accompanied on the guitar by Ed Young. Songs include: Hello Everybody Action Song, Billy Goats Gruff Participatory Tale and Millie’s Song. Registration will close Tuesday, April 25.
April 26, 2012 10:30 – 11:30 AM CT
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit
Audience: Grades K-3
The Bush Library Education Department will be hosting “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit”-a storytelling event for grades K-3. “Miss Teresa” Maurer is a talented storyteller affiliated with The Beatrix Potter Society. Registration will close Tuesday, April 25. Please visit http://www.peterrabbit.com/en/
for crossword puzzles, games, and coloring sheets. Registration form is located at the bottom of this email.
To register for the Storytelling event, please select the appropriate link below.
Texas Schools Registration for Musical Storytelling
Non-Texas Schools Registration for Musical Storytelling
To register for the Peter Rabbit event, please select the appropriate link below.
Texas Schools Registration for Peter Rabbit
Non-Texas Schools Registration for Peter Rabbit
These programs will be available by videoconference , by live stream, and by viewing the recordings after the event. Please note: to be considered an “interactive” site, you must choose the videoconference option and you must have students submit up to 5 questions on the registration form by April 11, 2012. All interactive sites will be notified of their questions chosen by April 19, 2012. Most sites will be “view only”.
If you have any questions, please contact Erika R. Tijerina
, TETN/IVC Facilitator at Region 6 Education Service Center.
April 13, 2012 - 11:30 AM -12:15 PM CT
Audience: Grades 2-5
Have you ever been to a historical museum? What about one that actually talks to you? Watch as figures from Texas come to life right before your eyes. Learn from Cleburn ISD fifth graders about Austin, Houston, Travis and more!
If you would to register on the TETN site, please use the above link to gather details about the event and use it to market the program to your schools.
If you have questions of would like to request more information contact JoAnn Roe, Educational Consultant at Education Service Center Region XI. Questions for the presenting students can be submitted via
On March 28, 2012, high school students from across the state went on a whirlwind tour of potential colleges throughout the state of Texas. Students learned about the history, mission, demographics, admissions requirements, financial requirements, degree plans, and campus life at colleges all over the Texas. Throughout the event students were allowed to text questions to the various college.
This day long video conference event was offered through a collaborative effort between state colleges, local education service centers, and the Texas Education Telecommunications Network and was free for Texas Schools that receive video services from their ESC.
All total we had 18 colleges present. Two of these colleges presented multiple times, and filled 20 presentation slots throughout the day. Presenters had 15 minutes to tell us about their college and then a 5 minute transition time was provided between each university.
Questions from participants were sent to a TETN office cell phone (we have an unlimited texting plan). Additionally, we allowed participants to send questions to the TETN phone via email by using a carrier specific email address. (I've included these at the bottom of the blog post. You will need to adjust them to fit your carrier specific needs) We had a lot of success with this feedback method. Everyone of our presenting colleges received questions via text. About 95% were delivered via text and only about 5% of the feedback came from the email option. During some presentations, the TETN office was overwhelmed by the sheer number.
One draw back to the text message option was a host of juvenile texts, some requesting the presenters phone #, some asking about the party scene, others wondering whether or not a shirt was required on campus, etc. For the most part, the TETN office simply ignored these texts. Strangely, enough those same students would turn around and ask a legitimate question later.
I want to thank Tommy Bearden from region 14 for suggesting we obtain filler questions for those presentations that did not receive a lot of quality feedback from participants. We only had to resort to this method on a couple of occasions as we waited for questions to come in but having those questions on hand proved invaluable.
The 5 minute transition time and 15 minute presentations definitely made us have to stay on our toes. Rob, our video tech, did a great job of checking in with the next presenter to make sure they were connected and ready to go before their time slot. And regions 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 20 did a wonderful job of testing with the colleges they recruited for the event. Thank you again service centers for all the time and effort you put in to make this happen. It was suggested that we consider extending presentation and transition times. (TETN would like to hear the your feedback on this)
It also helped that we ran either a recruiting video or powerpoint on a loop during the transition times. This freed us up to do some back end troubleshooting and helped minimize interruptions as new sites joined the conference.
The presenters all did fairly well considering it was the first time video conferencing for many of them. We provided an outline to the presenters, but I definitely think it would be beneficial to identify some best practices for future presenter as they develop their presentations. A few of our presenters simply sat in a room and spoke to camera without any visuals. Some of the presentations were by actual college students. These seemed to get a lot more feedback, when an actual student was presenting text messages started to pour in.
So that's the long and short of it. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have. Once again thanks to everyone who helped make this possible and don't forget to check out the carrier specific email a text options below. They are great for teachers utilizing mobile devices in the classroom.
Virgin Mobile: firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Cellular: email@example.com
Metro PCS: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inspired by the journey of Philadelphia-area hero Alex Scott, the Alex's Virtual Lemonade Stand Project celebrates the idea that just one kid can make a difference. Join schools from around the world to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer research, all while participating in standards-based projects that make the process both inspiring and fun. It's all about kids helping kids - - and we want you to get involved!
As part of this two week program, each participating school will hold their own lemonade stands to help raise funds for pediatric cancer. Schools can hold one big lemonade stand day or a series of lemonade stand events throughout the two weeks. They will be able to communicate and interact with one another through a project blog, student-created videos, poster contest and special videoconference events!
Requirements for Participation:
This FREE videoconference project is open to any interested MAGPI or non-MAGPI member school with H.323 videoconference capabilities and connectivity to their state/national research and education network.
Key Project Dates:
Registration Open: Now through April 13, 2012
Make a Difference Commercials Due: May 1, 2012 (optional)
Videoconference Testing: April 16 - 27, 2012
Kick-Off Virtual Pep Rally: May 8, 2012 11am - 12pm EDT via videoconference
School Lemonade Stand Projects: May 8, 2012 - May 22, 2012
Poster Competition Entries Due: May 17, 2012 (optional)
Wrap-Up Celebration Videoconference: May 22, 2012 11am - 12pm EDT via videoconference
To learn more about Alex’s amazing story and donate to the cause visit http://www.alexslemonade.org
Date: March 28, 2012 from 8:00AM-4:00PM
Join high school students from across the state on a whirlwind tour of potential colleges throughout the state of Texas. Learn about the history, mission, demographics, admissions requirements, financial requirements, degree plans, and campus life at colleges all over the Texas. Throughout the event students will be allowed to text questions to the various college presenters and contact information will be provided for follow up questions.
This day long video conference opportunity is offered through a collaborative effort between state colleges, local education service centers, and the Texas Education Telecommunications Network and is free for Texas Schools that receive video services from their ESC.
Registration Deadline: March 26, 2012
For more information please contact your local education service centers distance learning department or contact email@example.com.
Beginning February 10, 2012 TETN Plus began using LEARN DFW for Internet2 services and for access to the Texas higher education intranet. Texas A&M had provided these services since the inception of TETN Plus in 2006. “It was a hard decision to make since Texas A&M has provided connectivity and technical assistance to TETN from the beginning of the project,” stated Carol Willis, Manager of TETN.
After analyzing the traffic patterns, it was discovered that TETN Plus traffic was utilizing higher education’s free caching services for things like Microsoft updates. “IP traffic takes the shortest route with BGP, therefore we saw spikes of 200 Mbps going to Akamai caching servers located at the University of Houston and UT instead of using commodity internet bandwidth” reported Lee Williams, TETN Network Engineer. The connection to the Texas higher education intranet was designed for better quality video classes with higher ed institutions and for access to I2. “The move was necessary since the amount of traffic on the intranet far exceeded the amount in the Texas A&M contract. LEARN DFW was offering more bandwidth for less costs, therefore it was a decision based upon financial necessity,” said Ms. Willis.
In addition to cost savings, Ms. Willis said TETN is seeing unexpected benefits from the Texas intranet. “ESCs and their schools are realizing quicker response times for Microsoft updates, and commonly used sites such as Yahoo and Apple, and saving their commodity internet for digital learning.” Overall, the cost saving and added bandwidth from the transition to LEARN DFW has strengthened the TETN network.