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Feasibility Study for a Statewide Higher Education Information Technology Network
State of Connecticut, September 18, 1996

Problem Statement and Impact Analysis

  • The State of Connecticut feels that the capabilities of its system of higher education are not fully realized by residents of the State, as well as by individuals living in other states.

Impact: The networks deployed in other states have been an important factor in attracting students and private industry to those states (and away from Connecticut). The quality of education in Connecticut is viewed as inferior to other states, resulting in a loss of potential revenue (i.e., economic growth) from both students and private corporations.

  • The State of Connecticut leads most states in the net export of students seeking higher education. While this is not necessarily a problem, it may relate to Connecticut's competitive position in the higher education arena nationwide. A statewide network could have a positive impact on higher education's ability to attract both Connecticut and out of state students.

Impact: When students leave the State of Connecticut for higher education, they often do not return to the State upon graduation. Consequently, a net export of students means an export of knowledge, tax revenue, and workforce.

  • Many sectors of the state do not have easy access to higher education resources due to geography, physical limitations, time schedules, monetary situations, etc.

Impact: These individuals are being denied the opportunity to seek the educational experiences that they desire and/or need. A statewide network would make a distance learning program a viable alternative to all individuals seeking higher education, but unable to attend conventional classes. In essence, such a network would help to level the educational playing field across the entire state.

  • The inter-institution connectivity method in place today (i.e. the Internet) has several shortcomings:
    • Limited bandwidth
    • Lacks reliability
    • Not a secure transport mechanism.

Impact: The current environment will support the transmission of data traffic between institutions, but it is not ideal for sensitive information, and it does not support interactive video. If the state wants to deploy a fully interactive method of distance learning, a different network infrastructure is required.

  • The scope of this project is to examine a network infrastructure to be used only by the institutions of higher education. In order to provide maximum utility, such a network should also provide connectivity to K-12, libraries, museums, and private corporations.

Impact: Without connectivity to K-12, libraries, museums, and private corporations, a statewide higher education network will have several shortcomings:

  • Failure to maximize the educational experience by limiting the availability of on-line resources (this includes research material, catalogs, courses, instructors, etc.)
  • Connecticut will miss out on the opportunity to familiarize K-12 students with the offerings of Connecticut's higher education system. This familiarity could help keep these students in the state when they are looking for a higher education experience.
  • The State of Connecticut needs to coordinate higher education's efforts of creating a network infrastructure with the efforts of K-12, and public libraries. Without coordination, totally separate networks will most likely be created for each.

Impact: If networks for higher education, K-12, and the public libraries are created independent of one another, several issues may arise:

  • The State of Connecticut will not be able to fully capitalize on economies of scale when purchasing software, hardware, and carrier services.
  • The different networks may not be completely interoperable due to divergent product standards and technologies. This is especially important where video services are involved.

Page
Number
Executive Summary
Table of Contents
Introduction
12 Current Situation
13 Problem Statement and Impact Analysis
16 Benefits of a Statewide Network
17 Applications of a Statewide Network-Other States
18 Applications of a Statewide Network-Connecticut
20 Possible Technology Scenarios
21 Recommended Technology Scenario
22 Costing Model - Assumptions
23 Scope of Cost Model
25 Cost of Recommended Technology Scenario
26 Other Recommendations
30 Implementation Strategy
 

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