This Week in LIS - 7 March 2014

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Headline of the Week:  Updates Planned to Foundation of Connected Learning Platform

Two share worthy items came together this week. The first item concerns our Internet connections. The Decorah Metronet board agreed, pending mutually agreeable contract language, to purchase two 1 Gbps (Gigabit Per Second) Internet connections that the 6 collaborators will share. The cost to the partners will be a function of the bandwidth each will reserve for their usage. By aggregating our buying we have negotiated a lower monthly rate per unit of bandwidth. Plans are being developed and initial technical work has begun to prepare to leverage these new connections. When complete we will have more than twice our current bandwidth. Not only will this better support our needs during our peak usage times (during afternoons of business days and evenings whenever students are on campus our existing set of connections are saturated), during any outage (scheduled or otherwise) one of the connections will support our needs. We would endeavor to maintain this “twice current need” model as compared to the “try to get by with one half the need” model during an outage. We come to this as we recognize the degree to which the Connected Learning Platform is stitched into the fabric of our operations.

The number of devices we support on our network continues to grow. We support well over 5000 devices on our network. Some of them are part of the “Internet of Things” such as HVAC controllers or sensors or cameras and others are new smart phones and tablets. These new devices contribute to further growth in our bandwidth needs. Although historically the price of bandwidth has been falling the rate of growth in our bandwidth needs is growing faster. This has led to spending more on our network connections over time. Over the long run this will likely remain true. However, in the short term, aggregating our purchasing reset the price point for us.

The second bit of news is that we have settled on an approach to improve the wireless support in Towers residential halls. This has been an especially challenging environment to meet growing expectations for a number of reasons. The approach essentially takes the edge of the network from the hallways and moves it into rooms. The initial idea is every other room. The most challenging aspect is the wiring. Where can we run powered Ethernet wiring to 183 rooms to add 183 access points!

We have secured approval to do two things to validate the approach. First we want to mock up an example of what the interior of a room would look like to get input and acceptance for the interior design. This includes the routing of the cabling, the wire molds and the in room access point mounting and position. The second thing we will do is implement one floor of one of the Towers buildings to validate the technical. We intend to begin implementing this pilot yet this semester.  Stay tuned!

Suggested Reading/Viewing/Listening:

Decorah Metronet: An Investment in the Future

Wireless Challenge - Now and Future

Connected Learning Platform


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This Week in LIS is published most Fridays by Paul Mattson, Executive Director of LIS at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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