How Do You Connect?

Education today depends on cohesive connectivity within a school system and within each campus that is a part of it.

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[San Juan Silver Stage | Fall 2020 | Kathryn R. Burke]  

To be truly effective, today’s new education model depends on cohesive connectivity within a school system and within each campus that is a part of it. We’re talking about a continuous, interactive internal and external digital dialogue.

Ideally, all physical units of a campus—classrooms, offices, and buildings—must experience real-time communication. The same applies to personnel: teachers, administrators, custodians, and security officers. This is collectively known as a “local area network” (LAN).

At optimum, the same rule would apply to all units (schools) and personnel that comprise the entire school system itself. Collectively, this is known as a “wide area network” (WAN).

Staff throughout the school system—from the superintendent down to the school principals and teachers, persons coming in after hours to clean, or individuals assigning subs when a teacher calls in sick—need to have access to communal information. Lesson plans are on file. Administrative records are mutually accessible as needed. Building maintenance and repair schedules are available to all concerned. Complex IT systems—comprised of networks, technology equipment, hardware, software, electronic databases, and information storage—are in place and mutually accessible. Properly installed and maintained, preferably by a single supplier or company, Internet communication is seamless between everyone in the school community. A cobbled-together IT system doesn’t work as well when networks are supplied or maintained by multiple entities with shared responsibilities, which can cause conversion or transmission issues, including who to call when there’s a problem.

Fortunately, here in Montrose, we’ve got it! We have Elevate. Their high-speed fiber Internet network serves all campuses in the Montrose County School District (MCSD) with Internet bandwidth and WAN services which includes schools in Montrose and Olathe. The MCSD however operates its own LANS within each facility. The Elevate Internet network is also available in most of Delta County, including Orchard City, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Crawford, and Delta. Elevate also provides the internet bandwidth on which each of those Delta County School District (DCSD) facilities operates. DCSC however, operates its own LAN and WAN networks.

Dependable interconnectivity is especially important right now with the changes brought about by the coronavirus. The educational network has to extend to off-campus locations where students learn remotely. They can log in to a class without physically attending it and receive the same instructions as those attending in person. Or, in many cases, the entire student audience is participating in a virtual class, or webinar, from multiple locations. [Related article.]

A Local Area Network (LAN) serves everyone within a school campus. Illustration, Bryce Chismiere.

Elevate has provided service to MCSD student homes (where technically possible and subscribed to), so that all children in the system can learn from home when and as necessary. Some families have chosen to home-school and will wait until the semester ends to revisit that decision. The majority are sending kids to class, however, either part- or full-time, depending on the school’s current program. For most, the program means elementary kids are in class five days a week; middle-schoolers may be full-time or alternate between virtual and in-person classes. High-schoolers alternate to minimize the number of students on campus at any one time. [Related article.] If a virus outbreak occurs, every school is prepared to transition kids to virtual instruction as long as necessary. Thanks to Elevate’s reliable network, they can do that.