Its hard to believe the LCTN has only had the IP VCR for a year. The tool that allows us to record a videoconference has been used daily since we installed it. Most people now ask if the conference is going to be recorded as they have a conflict with the current date and time of the original conference or they want others to watch the conference.

We used it daily for our Chinese classes allowing students who missed the class or those who wanted to see the lecture again, a chance to view the course from their home computer.

Whats really hard is to tell someone we can not record an event, like the total Knee replacement surgeries due to limitaions placed on us by the provider.

The IP VCR seemlessly integrates into our videoconferencing MCU. The MCU can connect up to 20 videoconferencing sites and allows us to set up the IP VCR to record as soon as the connection is made to all sites.

Thanks Blandin on providing us with the grant funds to be able to purchase this wonderful piece of equipment!

Pete R


light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

News from Hutchinson and Little Crow Telemedia Network

Here is a link to our Veterans Day presentation where we brought in a chaplain who was serving in Iraq and presented to the student body in Glencoe. KARE-11 did a nice job on covering the story.

We also recorded the event so others could watch who could not make it to the presentation. The link was made through our video gateway on Internet 2, which is a broadband channel set up for these kinds of broadband applications. We linked with a group out of Washington, DC to help us find a video endpoint in Iraq.

We also connected two separate times to area high schools who were able to watch and interact with a surgical team as they performed a live total knee replacement. ACGC schools in Grove City, MN and YME schools in Granite Falls, MN each had high School Science classes be part of a live surgery. The students were sent curriculum kits before the surgery so they understood the procedure and why they needed to do the surgery but also the procedures involved in replacing a knee. The students were able to interact with the entire surgical team which was based in Ohio. During pre event questions about one half of the students were looking into the medical field. After the surgery over 70% of the students were now interested in going into the medical field. We only had one student leave during the surgery as it was pretty graphic and even though it was connected at 384 kbs the picture quality was fairly good.

We did get some press, but I am unable to find the article.

We also just completed our second year of Chinese language. The teacher is from the Metro area and we connect via videoconferencing. This is not unusual as about 8 years ago we received Japanese from Brooklyn Center and Russian from St. Cloud State. This is just a continuation of what we are able to do as a technology cooperative and an emphasis on Distance Learning. Since the Little Crow Telemedia Network (LCTN) and the Minnesota River Valley Education District (MRVED) share a gig WAN we are able to cooperatively share some servers and services. We bring Atomic Learning into the districts which is tutorial systems of quicktime movies instructing students and staff in how to use a variety of software. The step by step procedures allow students and staff the ability to watch the quicktime movie and then go and do the same steps on their software. They can also pause and replay the quicktime movies as they learn how to use their software.

In addition to the videoconferencing applications, the LCTN-MRVED WAN hosts a video streaming server which allows students and staff to watch and download educational videos which have been digitize and broken up into components which are also tied to grad standards. In the past we used United Streaming, but now we are switching to Learn360 which will give us better quality to the desktop.

The LCTN also hosts a Moodle server which allows us to host Online classes as well as provide a support for traditional classroom instruction. Moodle allows students to get resources from instructors 24×7 as well as allowing for discussion groups and live documents, wikis.

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Little Crow Telemedia Network

Pete RoyerI had the opportunity to visit Pete Royer in his spacious office in Hutchinson earlier this week. Pete shares his space with a colleague, multiple computers and monitors and stacks of assorted stuff that tech coordinators rely on to get through the day. Blandin Foundation helped to fund the acquisition of digital recording equipment so that Pete can record multiple video conferences at one time. He was able to show me a sample of a Chinese language class originating from Hopkins with participating students from multiple districts (see picture and note the Chinese instructor). One of the ironic things about making site visits on technology projects is that the use of the technology is so exciting, but the electronics that make it possible are so boring to look at! While a rack of electronics may have multiple purposes, to my untrained eyes the boxes all look alike! Nevertheless, Pete is extremely excited about the opportunities that the new equipment enables, especially combined with some new Adobe streaming video software that they are just installing. Pete recently posted some information elsewhere on the Blandinonbroadband blog about how to view some of the video conferences that they have on their public server. Check them out! Of course, advancement on one side of the network infrastructure places strain elsewhere. Video storage capacity is next on Pete’s agenda.

Blandin Foundation announces Community Broadband Resource Program

Blandin FoundationThanks to Becky LaPlant for sending on the exciting news from Blandin Foundation on the Community Broadband Resource Program

Blandin Foundation announces Community Broadband Resource Program Initiative will help rural communities connect to broadband’s worldwide advantages Grand Rapids, MN—(February 15, 2008) Blandin Foundation is pleased to announce the Community Broadband Resource Program (CBR). This newly created program offers technical and business consulting services to rural communities interested in researching, developing or advancing broadband capacity. Participating communities receive services at no charge.

CBR is the most recent program addition to Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Initiative, which also includes the “Get Broadband” and “LightSpeed” grant programs, the Blandin on Broadband blog and the Open Networks Feasibility Fund. The initiative is guided by a 16-member Strategy Board representing a broad range of private and public perspectives.

In designing this program, Blandin Foundation has applied its broadband experience gained from working with leadership in 29 rural communities.

Customized approach

Bill Coleman“Blandin Foundation’s Community Broadband Resource Program is unique in the state,” says Bill Coleman, project leader for the program. “This program will be customized for each community because when it comes to broadband decision-making, we know that no two communities have the same set of challenges or priorities.

“While some communities may already have committed resources and know what they want to do, others may not really understand broadband capabilities and don’t know where to start,” Coleman says.

“Our job is to facilitate the good work that community leaders are capable of doing. We help identify and clarify key community priorities, involve project stakeholders and assist community leaders in developing their plans and understanding their planning needs–whatever would help them move forward to the next step.”

Intro to LightSpeed

Blandin Foundation recently announced grants to four Minnesota organizations through the new LightSpeed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. I will be keeping a close eye on the grantees and helping to report their progress on the Blandin blog. In addition, you will be hearing from our grantees about their efforts to better serve their communities with big bandwidth tools.

We have two education and two health care applications in the LightSpeed program and four very different applications. Today, I will give you a brief description of each project. Continue reading

LightSpeed Q & A with Bill Coleman

Bill ColemanThanks a million to Bill Coleman for answering a few questions about Blandin Foudnation’s Light Speed program for the blog.

What’s the thinking behind the creation of the LightSpeed program?
In community broadband, it is a mistake to focus only the connectivity provided by a network. Some advocates romanticize instantaneous adoption of advanced technologies throughout the community. In fact, once connectivity is in place, other deployment challenges rise to the top, like specialized equipment, software, and end-user training.

The LightSpeed program provides funding to overcome these challenges and encourages the adoption of new broadband intensive applications, especially in the education and health care areas.

A second reason for the LightSpeed Program is to provide evidence of the value of big bandwidth networks, most notably FTTP networks. Skeptics always ask, “What are you going to do with all of that bandwidth?” LightSpeed grantees will serve as demonstration projects and provide real world answers to those questions.

The Blandin Broadband Strategy Board’s Vision Statement emphasizes both the deployment and the use of ultra high-speed next generation broadband. The LightSpeed Program promotes achievement of the vision by stimulating end-user thinking about what is now possible in their own communities with the local deployment of high-speed networks, especially in partnership with their local telecommunications providers. Continue reading