Jump to content
The Education Forum

Recommended Posts

BECTA's ICT Advice site is quite useful. Do a search under "broadband" at:

http://www.ictadvice.org.uk

To quote from one of the documents at the above site:

"Increased bandwidth offers the potential to use more data-intensive applications such as audio and video, however, these can take up a large amount of bandwidth per individual. For instance, a basic video stream can take 30Kbps or more. This indicates that a 2Mbps connection may still not support large numbers of users accessing video simultaneously. Therefore, 2Mbps is likely to be the first step for schools, with even higher speed connectivity needed if, for example, 50 pupils wish to access different video content at the same time."

I have a 512kbps connection at home. It's adequate for accessing most websites. Audio comes down the line satifactorily, but streaming video, e.g. from BBCi, hiccups at peak times - although this is probably due to pressure on the server as well as the connection itself. I am therefore unconvinced about the advantages of video delivered via the Web. I still prefer to watch live TV or DVDs on a wide screen in my lounge, sitting in a comfortable chair with my dog resting his head on my lap.

I pay 19.99 pounds (including VAT) per month for broadband, with unlimited access time and including space for my own website, email, etc. I use Force9: http://www.f9.co.uk

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jonsey

To give you an idea for my 10Mbs connection we pay 5cents Australian per gig download (no upload fee at all) for the first 120gig per month and then 4c per gig thereafter. We can have about 1000 users on line concurrently and have never exceeded this 120/month (well only once, till we blocked mp3 downloads, instant popularity!!!)

You need to watch the holidays when usage is minimal as we pay for the 120 used or not, so for 3 months of the year we pay for 360gig we don't use!!!!

For this reason and because our use is expanding I am negotiating an unlimited download per month at 4cents/gig

Good luck with France Telecom

1A$ = 0.60Euros

Cheers

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stated Schools in the UK have broadband access provided for them through their Regional Broadband Consortium.

In most cases, it has resulted in LEAs 'top slicing' education budgets and then announcing that schools get the service 'for free'. :D;)

I believe that the first few years will be covered in this way, but after that schools will have to provide their own funding. This is a very dangerous road to take, but a road that schools have been forced upon.

Schools correctly connected under the Broadband Initiatives don't use the same services as home consumers do. The minimum is a 2Mbps connection, with capacity to rise to 10Mbps. The reason my school is still stuck on dialup is exactly this - the four / five different contractors who each have a responsiblity to do something slow the whole process down terribly.

No idea how this equates to French possibilities but a good place to research a bit more would be http://www.broadband.gov.uk/html/home.html

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Moore

The real cost is hard, but not impossible to quantify. (I have a big spreadsheet that does just that.)

The East Riding is almost unique - it's a very large area, with many small (and therefore poor) schools, but we manage the broadband network ourselves, and share connections where possible between schools and other public services.

Installation costs may be anywhere from a few thousand quid upwards.

A year's rental on a 2Mbps line could cost from 1,400 pounds for BT copper to 3,600 pounds for optical fibre from Kingston Communications.

We have a grant from the DfES that pays for the installations, and can subsidize the rental. But it's fair enough for connected schools to pay that rental until all the others have been added.

On top of the line rental there is insurance of the routers, and Internet Service Provision, without which the high speed connections link schools to other schools only. A year's supply can cost anywhere upwards of 10,000 quid per Mbps.

We have connected 120 of our 165 schools. All secondaries have had broadband for three years, and all but two are now uprated to at least 10Mbps connections.

The government target is to have all schools connected by 2006. In the East Riding we aim to do so this year. But it's clear that many LEAs will not do this, because they are paying excessive costs to private companies that take a huge management fee.

Richard's figures would work out at about 15,000 pounds a year - which is about three times as much as any East Riding school would pay. We use the same formula to take money back, as we use to give it out. Our biggest school (with almost 3000 pupils) would maybe pay 5,000 quid, while our smallest (with less than 50) would pay about 1,000.

Richard does not say how much bandwidth the supplier is offering for this, nor whether it comes with broadband ISP - or is a connection-only fee. (Many English LEAs have supplied only the connection.)

The situation that Andrew describes is a disgrace - but I'm not surprised. The LEAs in our own regional grid have varying degrees of competence. We once used a private supplier, but the business collapsed - costing our LEA about 180,000 pounds (two years ago). This may turn out to be a good thing, as it helped us decide never to rely on a private contractor to manage the network. (I had been arguing with my then boss for this to happen; suddenly I was able to win the agument.) We employ one engineer of our own to oversee the installations, and we buy standard telecomms products as discounted prices (the local authority buys in bulk).

I don't know too much about the technology of networking, but I'm now quite well-informed about our county's broadband networks.

In England, the DfES wants to have a private high-speed schools network for all sorts of reasons. It will build this from the regional grids, and these, in turn, connect all the LEAs, except for a few that have withdrawn from the process (nearly all cities, that can get cheap connections, or so they think). This is not principally about the Internet - it would be a very expensive way to connect to that. It's more about the traffic between schools, LEAs and the DfES, that can stay off the Internet.

There's a lot of pressure on BT here, but in terms of connections to rural areas, they give good value for the Learningstream 2Mbs DSL copper connections (1,400 pounds per annum). The installation costs are reasonable, too, given that real people have to dig big holes and trenches for long distances (not the full length of the connection, as that uses existing copper - but at both ends).

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Moore

I should correct Andrew's comment in a nit-picking way. There may be some LEAs that ask their regional grid to provide the broadband service as a broker. If so, that would be unusual. But the regional grid is not a telecomms company, and does not provide any network services directly.

The grant is paid by the DfES to the local education authorities. It used to be grant 601B of the Standards Fund. Now it's 31B. (31A is devolved to schools for ICT, and 31C is also devolved to schools for Curriculum Online learning credits.) The scale of these grants, by any international yardstick, is enormous. (Almost 2 million quid in our LEA alone in the current financial year.) While some LEAs do not spend the Broadband grant wisely, I can say that most schools do not spend their devolved grant any more wisely.

The LEA has the grant, and the task of contracting with providers of services. Most LEAs cop out and ask a suitable company (NTL, Telewest or whoever) to provide the whole lot - which they will do, but at such a cost that little is left for new installations and/or the cost to schools of sustaining the rental is exorbitant. In the East Riding, we hand over Grant 31B to our county infrastructure manager, who contracts with the various telcos - that's mostly BT and Kingston Communications for us. Schools have no say in how the LEA spends this grant. But they do have a say in how they spend Grant 31A. Every LEA, as far as I know, asks for some of this back, to cover the cost of the rentals.

I know of no other country in Europe that has a national broadband grid for schools yet. In Norway, they are doing something similar to England, but slowly. (To be fair, they have rather longer distances for the network to span.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
I know of no other country in Europe that has a national broadband grid for schools yet. In Norway, they are doing something similar to England, but slowly. (To be fair, they have rather longer distances for the network to span.)

A recent report, produced jointly by the Center for International Development at Harvard University and the World Economic Forum, attempts to assess the challenges and realities of the networked world:

Kirkman et al. (2002) Global information technology report 2001-2002: readiness for the networked world, Oxford, Oxford University Press: http://www.oup-usa.org/reports

Substantial sections of the report are available in PDF format at: http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cr/gitrr_030202.html

An important chapter in the report is entitled "The Networked Readiness Index (NRI): measuring the preparedness of nations for the networked world". The NRI ranks 75 countries according to their capacity to take advantage of ICT networks, bearing in mind key enabling factors as well as technological factors, e.g. business and economic environment, social policy, educational system, etc. Higher ranked countries have more highly developed ICT networks and greater potential to exploit the capacity of those networks.

The USA occupies the No. 1 position on the NRI, followed by Iceland at No. 2. The member states of the European Union are ranked as follows:

3. Finland

4. Sweden

6. Netherlands

7. Denmark

9. Austria

10. United Kingdom

17. Germany

18. Belgium

19. Ireland

24. France

25. Italy

26. Spain

27. Portugal

31. Greece

(Luxembourg is not included in the NRI.)

There are no major surprises in the above list, apart from the low position of France, which one would have expected to be much higher in view of its relatively strong economy and highly developed educational system.

Norway is ranked at No. 5, and Switzerland at No. 16. Estonia leads the Central/East European field at No. 23, followed by the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary at positions No. 28, No. 29 and No. 30.

I have been to Finland many times - most recently in 2002 to attend the EUROCALL 2002 conference. They appear to be well connected! :unsure:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Moore

I've seen that index, too, Graham.

I wrote only of schools, and only of broadband networks. Mind you, I know that even there the UK's networks vary from one area to another.

I'm also speaking of things that are maybe too recent to appear in those surveys.

But these indices hide all sorts of truths. It can be hard to get a decent ISP in rural parts of the USA (so my friend in wildest Nevada says).

With respect to the distinguished people at Harvard, they do not know what is happening in the Yorkshire and Humberside Grid for Learning, and especially not in the East Riding. Some of it is almost news to me.

I'm not surprised to see France so low down. It got stuck on its own technology (Minicom) and has maybe never recovered.

When it comes to the ability to exploit the technology, I would agree that the UK is well below Finland and Norway. On the other hand, our close relations with India, and attractiveness to migrants from Eastern Europe would mean that the UK could quickly catch up by importing the skills (as we have done historically in other areas).

Link to post
Share on other sites
When it comes to the ability to exploit the technology, I would agree that the UK is well below Finland and Norway.

We don't do badly, however. I have worked in most countries in Western Europe at some time. The UK comes very high on my personal list, but Finland is extraordinarily well connected in the education world. A colleague of mine at a university in Finland tells me that it is normal for her university to pay for staff's home broadband connections so that they can work from home and save on travelling time when they are not actually required to be in the classroom. It's no coincidence that Finns are also the heaviest mobile phone users in Europe.

I have had a couple of bad experiences running workshops in schools in the UK. One workshop was a complete failure. It was supposed to focus on using the Internet in language learning and teaching, but it never got off the ground as the ISP (NTL) went down at 10.30 am and did not spring back to life until 3.30 pm!

But these indices hide all sorts of truths. It can be hard to get a decent ISP in rural parts of the USA (so my friend in wildest Nevada says).

A colleague of mine in Pittsburgh tells me that, contrary to popular opinion worldwide, many secondary schools in the USA are not at all well equipped and many are incapable of exploiting e-learning.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Moore

Very few school leaders here direct resources to supporting home Internet connections. My employers do so for me. The potential benefits of more home use, especially at high speeds, are immense. The solution to our traffic problems is neither more roads nor more rail services (even money cannot resolve the increase in passenger numbers) - but fewer journeys. I'd guess that half of the people are wasting time in going to an office to move digital information.

Moreover, using the Internet means that we can move jobs to, and sustain them in, the regions that have room to live and not enough work now. That can take pressure off the house market in the south-east, and the collapsing state education system, sustained by Aussie backpackers.

As for schools, the draft National Strategy for e-learning does require heads to move financial resources to supporting teachers outside of school (so one might trade one's classroom for equipment and a connection and so on, at home, or in some other public facility).

I keep having that experience you describe - but in places other than schools, like conference centres. Most primary schools, and all secondaries, in my county have a high-speed connection. If I put on an event at Bridlington Spa (owned by the council) I can have any number of users sharing a 10Mbps connection. Hull University is good, too.

The USA is not very good when it comes to using the technology, for say, putting free resources in the public domain. Even for American literary texts, like To Kill a Mockingbird, I find US teachers coming to me for resources.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The USA is not very good when it comes to using the technology, for say, putting free resources in the public domain. Even for American literary texts, like To Kill a Mockingbird, I find US teachers coming to me for resources.

It's probably a copyright issue. See the following Web pages produced by Brad Templeton:

A brief intro to copyright:

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copyright.html

10 Big Myths about copyright explained:

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

The author is based in the USA, but he covers general and international copyright issues too.

I have written a few guidelines too:

http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_copyright.htm

Have you had a look at the Electronic Text Centre, University of Virginia?

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu

It does not include works by Harper Lee. She's still alive - hence the copyright restrictions.

See also Michael Barlow's Corpus Linguistics site (Rice University, Houston):

http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~barlow/corpus.html

There is a link here to English-language resources on the Web.

Module 2.4 at the ICT4LT website may be useful too:

http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod2-4.htm

Although mainly MFL, some sections of this module were written by an EFL teacher.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...