geographically dispersed public network. This trial environment offered an opportunity to explore existing biases about fiber optic and high-speed networks, overcome the constraints of distance and dispersed population centers, and bridge the ever widening educational gap between technological "haves" and "have nots."
Education and lifelong learning are primary keys to societal success on both a personal and a national level. As our information-oriented society continues to move rapidly forward, tremendous pressures are exerted on schools at every level of learning. The rate of information acquisition in learning and scientific inquiry is astounding, making it extremely difficult for teachers and school districts to keep up. The problem is particularly difficult for both rural and urban schools with limited enrollments, diverse student populations, and constrained budgets. Many students in these types of schools are being taught advanced topics by minimally qualified teachers with outdated textbooks. These students are placed at a decided disadvantage if they advance to the college level and are forced to compete with students coming from schools with advanced curricula based on more current information. Worse yet, certain subjects may not even be taught in some schools due to lack of resources or expertise.
The trial activities described in this paper support the premise that these shortcomings can be addressed by means of a high-speed network to integrate communications transport at a variety of speeds and bandwidths and effectively partner university-level experts with teachers and students in the K-12 system. Such a network, both technological and human, can allow for a more efficient delivery of information and curricular material at both the university and K-12 levels.
Beginning in April 1994 and extending through March 1995, US West engaged in a set of technical trials of asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) technology in western Oregon and in Boulder, Colorado. Partnering with several leading universities and a number of other organizations, these trials explored issues surrounding the use of advanced networking technologies in combination with existing network services. Issues that were addressed included network platforms and architectures, along with an understanding of the types of applications that would use such an advanced mix of networking technology. Many planners assumed that high-end niche applications associated with such things as supercomputers would predominate. However, we soon realized that trial participants were placing a strong emphasis on the extension of advanced technologies to secondary schools. Even as that trend began to emerge, some felt that while extension of advanced technologies to secondary schools might be technically feasible, economic and social factors would make such applications unworkable.
Innovative work conducted separately by the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado proved the skeptics wrong. Advanced capabilities were in fact extended to a number of secondary schools in both Oregon and Colorado with encouraging results. This paper discusses the experiments that were performed, the trends observed, and subsequent plans made for follow-on activities. Insights gained are used to project a baseline of technologies that could be deployed over the next 5 to 7 years. We believe that these results should influence the deployment of advanced technology to secondary classrooms and could serve as a model for effective future cooperation between universities and K-12 schools.
US West announced a multiphase ATM strategy in October 1993.1 Key elements of this strategy included small, scalable ATM switches flexibly and economically deployed in a distributed architecture, as was done in the western Oregon and Boulder, Colorado, trials. The results were positive, and US West subsequently announced availability of an ATM-based Cell Relay Service offering in its 14-state region in January 1995.2
Experimentation in Oregon was conducted in conjunction with the Oregon Joint Graduate Schools of Engineering as part of "Project NERO" (Network for Education and Research in Oregon).3,4 Five widely dispersed graduate-level engineering schools (Oregon State University, Oregon Graduate Institute, University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Oregon Health Sciences University) and several state office buildings were linked together via a network of ATM switches and associated OC3c and DS3 lines in several major cities in western Oregon. In addition, connectivity was also extended to a teacher training workshop at school district headquarters in Springfield, Oregon. Experimentation in Boulder, Colorado,5 was conducted in conjunction with