Ivy Tech Community College, the nation’s largest state−wide community college with single accreditation, is also the state of Indiana’s largest public post−secondary institution. With 23 campuses throughout the state serving more than 120,000 students, virtual connection between the campuses is vital to maintaining a cohesive environment.
The three Ivy Tech campuses comprising the north central Indiana region − South Bend, Elkhart and Warsaw − are now I−Light subscribers. The iLight network is a high−speed fiber optic network specifically for higher education and research in Indiana. The Ivy Tech South Bend campus utilizes the Metronet to access the iLight system. This allows administrators of the South Bend campus to connect more quickly with the office of the Ivy Tech president in Indianapolis. The increased bandwidth provided by the Metronet also enables educators to teleconference and communicate with one another with greater ease.
Since joining the Metronet network several years ago, the college’s South Bend campus has been pleased with the speed and reliability it offers. "It has been more reliable than anything else we’ve ever used before at Ivy Tech," says Mckechney Valeris, Executive Director of Computer and Technology Services at Ivy Tech’s north central campuses. "As a fiber−based network we’ve yet to have any technical or service issues − which are a testimony unto itself."
The opportunity for students and instructors to interact online is valuable to Ivy Tech students. "We offer classes where students conduct experiments online, such as blowing up the chemistry lab, but the advantage is that the lab is not in our actual building!" remarks Dr. Virginia Calvin, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College North Central Campus.
The high bandwidth and data transmission capabilities of the Metronet benefit students in various scientific areas. "Our astronomy classes can tap into a lot of powerful resources, and it truly makes a big difference to have that capability," adds Calvin. "We’re still finding our way in utilizing the potential of the Metronet with respect to what we can offer our students."
Ivy Tech is presently exploring the delivery of additional educational services through the Metronet. Examples include two−way videoconferencing to provide courses to students in counties in Indiana where qualified instructors are not available.
"As a multi−campus with sites throughout the state, cost is critical, so we’re trying to connect with other resources throughout Indiana to deliver education," says Valeris. "The Internet is clearly a way of doing that, and now that we have the physical component [the Metronet] implemented, we plan to develop this further to serve more students."