October 15, 1996
Your task force on Educational Technologies for the 21st Century believes that information and telecommunication systems and services will play a increasingly vital role in Hawai`i's education systems. These technologies will enhance student and staff learning, increase intellectual and administrative productivity, and improve academic and administrative effectiveness. We believe that the greatest synergy of the BOE/BOR technological partnership will be achieved in education rather than administration, so our report focuses on this area.
The task force envisions a lifelong learning environment in which the tools of technology will support education at all levels and in all geographic areas of the State. This will require that the Hawai`i educational community be interconnected with full access to instructional services (e.g. distance learning) and libraries and information resources located anywhere in the state or elsewhere in the world on public networks.
The Hawai`i State Department of Education (DOE) is actively pursuing a commitment to creating "appropriate access to voice, data and video information systems for every public school student, teacher and administrator regardless of their location or learning environment." Similarly, the University of Hawai`i (UH) plans to utilize information technology as a key strategy in coping with the changing environment and increasing expectations by viewing telecommunications as "the means by which its campuses and education centers may be woven into a seamless web to efficiently provide equitable high-quality access to higher education throughout the state." As has been reported upon earlier, largely through the Hawai`i Educational Networking Consortium (HENC) the DOE and UH have been working together closely for several years to realize these visions, with key partners in the executive and legislative branches of government.
To achieve the vision for Hawai`i, the task force notes that educational technologies in the 21st century must:
Advance ubiquitous access to educational services from anyplace at any time. More learning opportunities must be accessible on a 24-hour basis throughout the State;
Ensure equity of access to information resources for all persons involved in learning, regardless of their location and socio-economic status;
Ensure coordinated and integrated access to systems and services so that public information resources are easily, readily and cost effectively available to everyone, while privacy and personal information are carefully protected.
Based on the vision, these requirements and our progress to date, the task force has identified five recommendations for necessary actions. These recommendations were developed to provide adequate technology in the schools, to interconnect our educational community within the State, to implement adequate external connectivity between Hawai`i and the rest of the world, to extend access to educational resources to the home, and finally, to provide a safety net through our publicly funded libraries for those who would not otherwise be served. The first three of these recommendations have been submitted as biennium budget requests within the DOE and UH, the fourth is in progress, and the fifth is recommended for further planning and future action.
Recommendation # 1
Advancing Technology in the Schools -- School Server Initiative
Every public school requires a server to provide local information and management to meet the specialized needs of each school. This also provides the stage for each school to share information with the rest of the State and with others around the country and the world. The DOE has submitted a biennium budget request for a School Server Initiative which the task force fully supports.
Recommendation # 2
Interconnecting the State -- Upgrade HITS
Funds are now required to modernize the Hawai`i Interactive Television System (HITS) by replacing the existing analog video microwave radios with modern digital technology statewide. This will provide telecommunications capacity to permit:
- expansion of Hawai`i's statewide distance education programming such as the DOE's Electronic Schools projects and the UH AA degree program
- increase in the number of 2-way video channels available for interactive courses
- increase in data communications capacity for neighbor island access to the Internet, library services, and other information resources.
The upgrade of HITS is an extremely high priority to all task force members. The much needed expansion of capacity would afford all of the educational sectors huge benefits. It is estimated that the upgrade will cost in excess of $3 million. We believe an expenditure of this size will require action on the part of the 1997 State Legislature.
Recommendation # 3
Connecting to the World -- Increase Capacity of Mainland Internet Connection
Internet access to educational resources outside Hawai`i is severely limited by the capacity of its current links. UH and DOE are each currently restricted to a single T1 circuit (1.5 million bits per second capacity) from Honolulu to the US mainland. The UH link has been saturated for over a year with negative impacts on its instructional and research activities, and the DOE link is expected to saturate soon with the Department's dramatic advances in school connectivity in the last year. The task force recommends that a shared connection of DS3 capacity (45 million bits per second) be implemented. Current recurring costs for a DS3 connection are $2.5 million annually to lease the circuit. Expensive as this is, we believe that it is a necessary cost of education in Hawai`i.
Extending Telecommunication Links Into the Home
The task force believes that it is of considerable importance to provide educational opportunities via telecommunication access to not only educational sites, but also into the home to provide extended and accessible opportunities for learning to all members of the family. We believe that these links must be provide by the private sector through development of the state's public network infrastructure. As the current state of technology in Hawai`i's public network dictates separate considerations for data and video, we recommend several actions to maximize opportunity and service to the public in this area:
Action 4A - Modem Dialup Services
Most people currently access digital information services from home via dialup modem. The UH and DOE do not have the resources to provide unlimited free dialup access to meet the educational needs of our community of over 250,000 students, faculty and staff. However the task force believes we can leverage our statewide buying power to obtain favorable rates for the education community, and make such rates available to residents of every island. Widespread dial-up service will provide access to the Internet, UHCARL, the Hawai`i State Public Library System, and the DOE School Library Network and On-line Catalog and Booking System.
The task force believes this will be best accomplished through a partnership with a private Internet service provider, and we support HENC's activities to develop and issue an Invitation for Bids for statewide dial-up Internet access to identify a preferred service provider for Hawai`i's educational community.
Recommendation #4 - Continued
Action 4B - Pilot Testing Advanced Services
It is clear that technology is rapidly advancing in this area, and that dialup service is merely the entry point into the range of services that will be available as the notion of the information superhighway takes form. The task force recommends that, through HENC, the educational community continue to position itself as a pilot tester and early adopter of new technologies such as it is doing with the Oceanic cable modem pilot project and GTE Hawai`ian Telephone ISDN pilot project.
Action 4C - Restructuring Educational Cable Access
Hawai`i's Cable TV franchises require the provision of funding and channel capacity for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) programming. This resource has been crucial in the development of the DOE Electronic Schools project and UH educational programming including the Oahu-wide AA degree project. Today the UH and DOE collaboratively schedule most of the prime time hours available on the educational channels that are set aside for PEG access. The task force proposes separating the "E" component of PEG, initially on Oahu, and making 2 channels and commensurate resources directly available to support educational programming by the UH and DOE.
Recommendation # 5
Positioning the Libraries as a Safety Net
The task force recognizes that many learners will not have access to technological resources in their homes. We believe that our libraries -- public, school and university -- have a vital role to play as a safety net to prevent stratification of learners based on access. We recommend that a plan be developed and implemented for the systematic upgrade of technology in our libraries throughout the State to ensure that all students and citizens have access to learning opportunities through our publicly funded libraries in the 21st century.