A Brief History of the LNV

Beginnings

Almost 15 years ago Verizon (then New England Telephone) supported the creation of an interactive video-conferencing network for Vermont's high schools. The resulting ATM-based network connected all VT high schools, the Department of Education (DOE), Vermont Legislature, the University of Vermont and the Vermont Institutes (VI). The Vermont Institutes managed the network, called the Interactive Learning Network (ILN), for the duration of the project.

Verizon provided a dedicated T1 line to each site, the head-end hardware consisting of a video bridge and other required hardware, OC3 capacity, and funds for personnel to create and support the system. At the time Verizon required the T1 lines to be dedicated solely to the ILN network (an ATM network), so those lines could not serve the dual role of also supporting Internet access. The five-year support from Verizon ended in late spring 2005.

Vermont schools used the network to deliver coursework, engage in virtual field trips, enable collaboration among students from different schools, provide professional development for teachers and other school staff members, and enable meetings among schools and the Department of Education.

Moving to the Internet

In 2006, the erstwhile VILN was revived as the Learning Network of Vermont (LNV), with a new network design by NCS of Lyndonville, VT. While much of the equipment used in the network was the same as the VILN, the dedicated ATM network was gone. Instead, each high school would use its own broadband Internet connection. Thus, the network was now a "virtual network," sharing a common easy to use dialing plan and a meeting (conference) scheduling system that allows each site to schedule and run video conferences at will.. Since the "virtual network" is on the Internet, other videoconference sites that were not part of the LNV could now be invited into conferences or called directly.

In addition to those improvements , the move to the Internet saved money in several ways: Using the Internet is much less expensive than supporting a dedicated, state-wide ATM network; calls to external sites (for example, "virtual field trips" to museums and research sites) no longer would carry a communication cost beyond the underlying Internet connection; and network managers at the schools would no longer have to manage a separate physical network for videoconferencing.

LNV 2.0 – the LNV today

In 2009, the LNV received funding for a major upgrade of equipment in a network.

Both the infrastructure – located in a State datacenter – and the equipment at participating school sites were upgraded to state-of-the-art. Although the conceptual design of the network remained the same – using school’s existing broadband connections – several new features made the LNV much easier to use and far more reliable. Additions included new HDX 7000 Polycom terminals, a new and much more capable MCU, and an easy-to-use scheduling system. A fully-integrated webcam-and-software-based system, called Scopia Desktop, allows LNV schools to bring students, teachers, and educational resource persons together from anywhere in the world, even if they are not part of the LNV. The “virtual room” feature allows users to create multipoint meetings at any time just by connecting to a room number.

In the background, the use of standardized “firewall traversal” means that video terminals (e.g., Polycoms) are fully mobile, can be placed where needed without requesting any changes to the LNV network, and – most importantly – do not require special settings on the school’s firewall.

Video meetings on the LNV require no special knowledge; but instead, are available to any motivated teacher, administrator, or educator for the benefit of Vermont’s students.

Sigrid Olson
LNV Project Supervisor, VT AOE
(802) 828-0200
sigrid.olson@state.vt.us
Tim King
LNV Support, NCS Inc.
(802) 626-1050
tim@necomp.com
Paul Garstki
LNV Network Designer, NCS Inc.
(802) 626-1050
paulg@necomp.com
A Google Maps display of LNV sites here. A little out of date, but gives a good idea of the geographic extent.

Do you want to learn how to use the many features of the LNV? Create multipoint meetings, learn the subtleties of the Polycom, invite distant teaching resources to talk to your class via webcam, learn how to schedule meetings in advance, share powerpoint presentations and desktop applications, and much, much more.

Open a training request at the LNV trouble-ticket portal.