Internet usage at 32 of Alberta's 74 largest K-12 public, separate, Francophone, and charter school authorities has reached historic levels — evidence of the growing importance of digital resources and online content in modern classrooms.
In the last quarter, internet consumption by these school authorities (who represent more than half of the province's K-12 students) using Alberta's research and education network was 166 TB — higher than the bandwidth consumed by the Universities of Alberta and Calgary through the same network. (One Terabyte is one thousand Gigabytes).
These educators are members of Cybera, a not-for-profit technology agency that operates CyberaNet, Alberta's ultra high-speed research and education network.
"Helping students in the most remote areas of Alberta to connect to the latest technologies and keep up with their international peers is an important goal for all educators," says Jaymon Lefebvre, Director of Technology for the Wild Rose School Division. "More schools are recognizing the benefits of enabling students to use technology as an integral tool in their learning, and we appreciate the support of not-for-profit partners like Cybera to help bring this vision within reach."
Cybera connects the education and public sectors to an international system of research networks. CyberaNet also connects to major Internet Exchanges, providing Cybera's publicly-funded members with direct links to popular websites such as Google, Desire2Learn, YouTube and others. Through this direct peering initiative, and a commercial bandwidth bundling group it created in 2012, Cybera has helped to dramatically reduce internet costs for educational institutions in Alberta.
"We have been pleasantly surprised to see the growing use of internet in classrooms, as it is used more and more to collaborate, conduct research, and access content, as well as to hold live webcasts with other classrooms or experts in the field, such as astronauts and doctors," says Jean-Francois Amiot, Network and Operations Director for Cybera. "This just shows that if you give educators access to fast, unlimited internet at a price they can afford, you open up a whole new world of learning opportunities."
Going forward, Cybera hopes to increase its outreach to Alberta's school districts and post-secondary institutions to further improve the speed (and reduce the cost) of their internet connections. As these endeavours are just as important for smaller school boards, Cybera has made networking experts available free-of-charge to help those who want to participate, but may not have the in-house expertise to deal with the technical details.
To find out more about Cybera and the research and education community it serves, or to get connected, visit the network information page.