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Networks-in-the-Curriculum

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					Computer Networks

           in

 Primary Schools


  Advice to Kent Schools




    The Kent NGfL Team




                           February 2000
           Networks in the Primary School


The NGfL initiative has encouraged schools to consider networks as a means of
improving ICT access in the curriculum and the school management process.

ICT developments must be viewed as a school resource to improve teaching and
learning for raising educational standards. Where a network solution is considered,
the capital outlay is high and annual support costs are significant. Schools need to
be confident that this investment will represent value for money in curriculum returns.

A computer network can offer benefits in terms of sharing printers and Internet
access. However, there are issues of management, security, cost and support that
need to be considered before any decision is made.

In Kent there are about 100 primary schools with networks of some kind. The
majority of these schools have opted for a networked ICT room which is a time-tabled
resource; the remainder have decided to provide networked access in the
classrooms and library areas. There are advantages in both approaches.

The Year 2000 problem and release of Windows-based SIMS management software
has encouraged the review of the school office IT facilities. Schools have used the
opportunity to modernise office IT and to install a single network to run both the
curriculum and administration.


This document gives an overview of the types of networks available to schools and
identifies some of the factors to be considered.

A key NGfL target is for schools to have access to the Internet for teaching and
learning purposes. This implies a multiple access solution of which there are several
solutions, usually involving some kind of networked system using an ISDN (digital)
phone line. It is clear that the Government expects ISDN2 to be the baseline for
Internet services, particularly for emerging video and digital technologies. Broadband
services of 2Mb/s and higher will follow. However, geographical or financial
restraints may require other connectivity solutions.


Current Internet solutions are:

   1. Each computer with its own modem, sharing a single phone line

   2. Several computers networked together, sharing a modem and phone line

   3. Several computers networked together, sharing an ISDN line and router

   4. A computer network with server, sharing an ISDN line and router

   5. A computer network with broadband (2MB) phone or satellite connections.


NGfL KCC                                  Page 1                   Networks in the Curriculum v2
Curriculum Considerations
Possible arrangements of ICT in the school:
 Computer(s) and laptops in the classroom, mainly used for group work
 Clustered computers in the library or central resource area
 ICT room, timetabled for use by each class
 Classroom computers on trolleys that may be moved into a central area for whole
   class lessons.

The computer activity may be:

The starting point – children use CD-ROM or Internet to research a topic.
The end point – ICT is used to present work.
Integrated – for example, children contribute to a database. Measuring and gathering
data takes place away from the computer.


ICT in the classroom
Advantages
In a group of two or three, pupils help each other and discuss the task.
The teacher is well-placed to intervene.
It may be easier to link with other work in class.
The computer is available as needed - e.g. pupils want to find something out.
If the classrooms are networked then Internet and multimedia may be shared.

Disadvantages
Pupils have to wait their turn for „hands-on‟ experience.
There is pressure to cover the IT curriculum.
Without a large screen, the whole class cannot see what is happening.
The computer is not in use at certain times.
Expansion is restricted: space, limited number of power points.
Networking every classroom in a school can be very expensive.


ICT room
Advantages
More whole-class teaching - desirable at Key Stage 2.
Pupils can be taught generic skills more easily.
If machines are networked then good quality printers can be shared as can Internet
access and multimedia.

Disadvantages
Teachers may feel less able to integrate the use of ICT in other subjects.
There may not be a suitable room within the school.
The benefits for small schools are uncertain.
ICT rooms are unsuitable for a class of infants with little hands-on experience.
All staff will need to learn whole-class IT management techniques.

NGfL KCC                                  Page 2                   Networks in the Curriculum v2
Sharing access to the Internet

1. Sharing a phone line
For a small school ( less than 4 classes) a short term solution is to use a single
phone line and fit extension telephone sockets into each classroom. Every class
books the phone line when dial-up access to the Internet is planned.. Each stand-
alone computer would be fitted with a modem.

The advantage of this solution is that the set-up costs are low and no network cabling
is needed. The disadvantages are simultaneous access to the Internet from several
classrooms is not possible unless separate phone lines are installed. The sharing of
printers and data between classrooms is not included

This solution will not deliver the high speed performance associated with emerging
video and digital services.
.

                                                                 Dial-up Line




                        Modem                 Modem




                  Shared phone line access



2. Sharing a modem and phone line
Several computers can have access to the Internet at the same time by networking
them together. One computer has dial-up modem that is connected to a standard
telephone line. All the computers access the Internet through the shared modem, the
computer with the attached modem acts as a gateway to the Internet. Each
computer runs software that allows it to “see” the modem. Products called Wingate
and Ishare act as proxy servers, giving some control of users‟ access to the Internet.
As in 1.above, future needs for high speed access will not be met.

This Wingate type solution might suit a small school (2-8 computers) wishing to
achieve multiple Internet access.

The advantage is that a single phone line and modem are shared with low start-up
costs. Frequently-accessed Internet pages Web pages are often held on the
gateway computer, possibly saving some phone line time. Only one Internet account
is actually needed to access the Internet.


NGfL KCC                                 Page 3                   Networks in the Curriculum v2
                                                                   Dial-up Line
                        Network Hub




                                                             Modem


                     Internet by shared modem
The disavantages are that the computers must be networked together and this could
be expensive. Some Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies dislike the Wingate
solution because it can give slow access to the Internet and it means they sell fewer
Internet subscriptions. The network system will need some technical support.



3. A peer-to-peer workgroups network with ISDN Internet
The workgroups network is suitable for up to about 15 networked computers sharing
printers and Internet access. The development of a peer-to-peer network can provide
a migration path to a full network at a later date.

A printer connected to one computer workstation can be offered or “shared” to the
others in the workgroup so that a user can print across the network. In a similar way,
each computer workstation can access the Internet via a shared Internet router. A
digital ISDN phone line gives high speed access to the Internet.

Peer-to-peer networks have limitations. Users‟ data files are stored on a
workstation‟s local hard disk so that the user must sit at the same computer next time
to retrieve their work. Each workstation holds local copies of the software and should
be protected by “desktop-locking” software to prevent re-configuration by a user.


                              Hub


                                                                ISDN
                                                                Router


                                                                        ISDN Line




             A Peer-to-Peer Workgroups Network

NGfL KCC                                 Page 4                   Networks in the Curriculum v2
Usually there is no central management of workstations, users or software.

Technical support is available from suppliers by telephone, some offer a remote dial-
in service to diagnose and manage fault calls.

ISDN and Internet annual charges can be expensive and network cabling is required.

There is an alternative to using a router which offers an “Internet server” in a box.
Products like NetPilot (£1000) include Intranet, Email, security firewalls and proxy
server facilities which the workstations can access without need for a full network
server to be installed. Net Pilot products can be used on full client-server networks.


4. Client-Server networks with ISDN Internet
This type of network is a secure system that is found in all large educational and
commercial situations. The client is the computer workstation and the server is a
powerful computer with large hard disks and a backup tape system.

All client workstations are linked together as in the peer-to-peer network but are also
cabled to the network server. Up to 60 users might access the Internet at a time via
an ISDN router. Multimedia and software titles can be shared provided that the
appropriate network licences are owned.

Internet web pages can be stored on the server together with locally published school
documents and pupils‟ work to form an intranet. Any networked workstation is able
to access these school-based Intranet resources without incurring connection
charges to the public Internet.

The network server stores all users‟ data files and software. In addition, networking
software like Microsoft NT keeps a central database of users‟ details and their access
passwords, controlling which facilities they can use on the network. Network stations
can be managed centrally and new software made available from the server. Each
night the server‟s hard disks are backed up automatically to tape as a security
measure.




      Network
      Server


                               Hub


                                                                   ISDN
                                                                   Router

                                                                            ISDN Line



                        A Client-Server Network
NGfL KCC                                  Page 5                   Networks in the Curriculum v2
The support and daily management tasks are more complex and than a peer-to-peer
system. It is vital that a suite of management software tools is available to the
systems manager so that the network can be managed efficiently. Responsibility for
the network management must be identified and given due recognition.

Some schools have chosen to combine both curriculum and school office IT systems.

Additional management and technical support using dial-in remote access can be
purchased on an annual basis from LEA centres and suppliers.



Summary of Network Options

           Issue                    Peer-to-Peer network               Client-Server Network
Daily management                Similar to standalone            More complex, centrally controlled,
                                computers but each station       using software management tools
                                managed individually
User and software files         Held locally on each             Stored and centrally managed.
                                workstation                      Users can work at any computer.
Workstation and user            Requires a “locked” Windows      Centrally-held users restrictions
security                        installation                     and workstation settings.
Robustness                      A workstation failure does not   Any workstation failure does not
                                stop the whole network           affect the network but a server
                                                                 failure would stop all services.
Annual support and              Workstation (and cabling)        Server cover is essential.
maintenance costs                                                Workstation hardware plus
                                                                 networking software optional
Expandability                   Upper limit of 15                About 60 per server

Whole school system             No school office integration     Joint administration-curriculum
                                                                 potential
Training in network             1 day                            2-4 days
management
Upgrades                        On a per station basis           Server and stations




Models of Multiple Internet Access
     Type                   Roll         Classes         Internet access              PCs
1. Small Primary            <100        <4            Dial-up PSTN line      Standalone systems
                                                      Will not deliver       with modems, share
                                                      emerging               phone line(s) as in
                                                      technologies           phase 1 NGfL
2. Medium                 100 - 250     <8            Dial-up PSTN line      Networked computers
                                                      Limitations as above   sharing one modem
3. Primary and            100 - 250     5- 10         ISDN                   Peer-to-Peer, Internet
   Specials                                                                  Router, shared printers

4. Large Primary            >250        10+           ISDN                   Client-Server network,
                                                                             joint admin/curriculum
                                                                             solution. Shared
                                                                             Internet, printers, files,
                                                                             multimedia



NGfL KCC                                            Page 6                     Networks in the Curriculum v2
               Planning for a Network

   Curriculum Need

   Equipment Specification

   Selecting a supplier

   Installation and technical support

   Accommodation

   Mains Power

   Network cabling

   Furnishings

   Lighting

   Security



   Support and Training of staff and ICT co-ordinator




NGfL KCC                   Page 7         Networks in the Curriculum v2

				
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