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Sirti Bestows Award of Honor
October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
In June 1994, while on a layover in the San Francisco airport, Dr. Steve Simmons cam...

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01/31/2002 - EWU Approves Digital University

On December 7th, 2001, the Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees approved a plan for uniting --- over high-speed optical fiber --- the regions colleges and universities into one collaborating ‘digital university’ system.  At fruition this system will be larger than most major research universities. 

The plan, called High Definition Education (HD/Ed) at EWU, calls for a large ring of fiber connecting EWU Cheney, the Riverpoint Campus, Gonzaga, WSU at Spokane and Pullman, University of Idaho in Moscow and Coeur d’Alene, Whitworth and other schools. According to research from the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, there are more than 65,000 students now enrolled in Spokane’s colleges and universities, with an additional 41,000 within a 90-mile radius --- a physical distance now feasible with current Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) fiber optic technologies.

Dr Steve Simmons, professor of computer science at EWU, originated the concept of HD/Ed three years ago as an expansion of the educational and research resources of the Terabyte Triangle.  “ I was inspired,” Simmons states, “by the extremely successful collaboration between EWU and WSU Spokane which resulted simply from being in the same building! We collaborated on class projects and seminars first, then discovered opportunities for serious research. One result was that Dr Jeanne Small at EWU joined with Dr. Margaret Mortz at WSU on a $1.2 million advanced project against bio-terrorism.”

Simmons reasoned that if a network connection could be sufficiently good to produce ‘same building’ quality, then many other productive seminars, classes, collaborations and projects would result. So, following this vision, the HD/Ed plan features special, fiber connected seminar rooms and electronic classrooms with many video projectors, electronic whiteboards and other equipment --- so that a remote seminar would have the same intimacy and overall quality of the original location.

There is a definite challenge in transmitting “same building” session quality a long distance over fiber, but according to Simmons this problem has been attacked and solved by many organizations, from the Internet2 universities group to World Wide Packets.

Discussions, to bring the HD/Ed concept to reality, open Friday, February 1st in Cheney, with participation by EWU, CenturyTel and World Wide Packets.

Billie Moreland
 
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