Creating a Cutting-Edge Learning Environment

One of the nation's most technologically advanced schools—East Lyme Middle School in Connecticut offers access to the Internet, multimedia presentation/communications technology, mobile computer workstations and an internal video-on-demand and information network. The school opened its doors to approximately 1,200 students this fall with a layout that complements this cutting-edge techno...

11/01/2002


One of the nation's most technologically advanced schools—East Lyme Middle School in Connecticut offers access to the Internet, multimedia presentation/communications technology, mobile computer workstations and an internal video-on-demand and information network.

The school opened its doors to approximately 1,200 students this fall with a layout that complements this cutting-edge technology design by arranging the school into clusters consisting of four classrooms, a project room, conference and storage space and a sunken meeting area. Students can work on common projects across disciplines and, in the end, use the meeting area to make multimedia presentations to the rest of the class using a combination of computer presentation and audio-visual technology.

School support

Behind the innovative technology and instructional plan is a robust telecommunications system with an organized distribution plan for this 190,000-sq.-ft. facility. Category-6 cable supports the school's datacom infrastructure, while voice communication is carried over category 5e cabling. In addition, the facility is one of the first of its kind in Connecticut to employ the Integrity Structured Cabling Solution, a range of advanced copper and fiber interconnectivity options designed and tested to surpass standards of the Telecommunications Industry Association and Electronic Industries Alliance.

"It was critical that this project incorporate equipment that meets the school's specific existing needs while offering the flexibility to adapt with the evolution of both the school and technology in general," explains Jahala Grous, the systems engineer, consultant and owner of Shoreline Technologies, New London, Conn., who specified the cabling infrastructure, as well as the extensive array of routers, patch panels/hubs, and the enclosures that contain the equipment.

With that in mind, Grous' engineers met with the school's project team to determine the ideal classroom setup and technology design to meet the teachers' needs.

"Many people think that computers are going to take over a teacher's job," Grous says. "But I think that computers are actually a great tool that can help teachers do their job better."

The school's fiber-optic backbone is housed in an interconnected series of 19-in. rack enclosures that are situated in 10 storage rooms throughout the facility. Grous points out that because the rooms also house cabinets storing learning materials and other items that would need to be accessed by teachers and students, the backbone needed a secure rack enclosure. As a result, 44 rackspace units were provided with a solid key-lock rear door, and Grous added key-lock plexi-glass front doors to each system.

The design also mandated that each rack system include fans for optimum cooling, in addition to pre-configured power strips. For easy alignment of equipment, the enclosures feature numbered rackrail spaces. An included grounding and bonding stud allows units to conform to NEBS and NEC standards.

Now and the future

Before the school's opening, Grous' team busily tested all of the equipment, oftentimes even before it was installed.

With its advanced computer and presentation technology, along with a business-style telephone system that routes all calls through a central location, the school is already prepared for the future.

But the design team also made sure to leave room for changing configurations and future growth. In fact, the school already has looked at the possibility for wireless communications and networks.





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