Delivering a 21st century education is a high priority for Sacred Heart College, a Catholic secondary school for girls in Geelong. After many years with a commercial Internet services provider (ISP), the school connected to AARNet, both to meet its current and future broadband needs in a sustainable cost-effective way and to take advantage of the learning opportunities offered by the wider AARNet community.
The College has always been at the cutting edge of technology, installing its first permanent Internet link in 1995 and over the following years making significant developments and investments in communications technologies, from a dial up modem in 1995 through to a fibre optic connection. This progression has been in line with developments in the curriculum and has enabled access to 21st-century collaboration tools, applications and cloud technologies, which have enhanced learning in many ways.
A 400 Megabit per second (Mbps) fibre service with a commercial ISP installed in 2013 enabled the College to further develop a cloud strategy and improve access for all staff and students. However, this engagement model soon proved to be unsustainable.
“Our usage over the contract regularly exceeded our limit and incurred excess usage charges. Using a trend analysis it became obvious that our current situation would not be suitable in the near future. The upload usage was steadily growing also, however at a slightly lower rate,” says Mark Pleasance, Sacred Heart College’s IT Manager.
He says the flow on effect of this ‘over usage’ resulted in constraints being applied to the connection. This negatively impacted the teaching and learning program, by inhibiting the use of technologies the school relied on.
After a comprehensive review of the College’s infrastructure requirements, the decision was made to move forward with a 1Gbps AARNet connection.
Pleasance says Scared Heart College's decision to connect to AARNet was made for several reasons:
AARNet is built for education: AARNet's ‘On-net’ capability is specifically designed to provide unlimited access to genuine educational resources such as textbook publishers, large Learning Platform companies, Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs and the all Universities in Australia, etc. Unlimited access to significant On-net resources enables the College’s cloud strategy and new learning platform.
Fit for Purpose: the AARNet architecture ensures dedicated capacity with substantial headroom is available to accommodate the rich diversity of classroom dynamics.
Learning support: in addition to technical support, AARNet uniquely offers learning support through partnerships with Universities, video collaboration, virtual excursions, cloud storage, eduroam and other initiatives.
High capacity with the ability to scale: boosting capacity from 1Gbps to meet increasing demand is easy and affordable.
The AARNet connection became operational in April 2015. Pleasance reports that the experience is meeting his high expectations. So far, 83% of the College’s usage is On-net. In the first three months, downloads more than doubled and uploads grew, proving that if the capacity is available it will get used.
Pleasingly, the learning platform uptake has improved due to the speed and availability of the service. Staff have also been able to attend online professional development activities during the school day, without the inconvenience and expense of travel and staff replacements.
AARNet removes barriers to innovation in teaching and learning by providing a friction-free network.