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KNOXVILLE — Schools, community colleges, museums and libraries across Tennessee will soon have greater computer networking capabilities thanks to the University of Tennessee, the University of Memphis, the Governor’s office and the state Department of Education.

UT Knoxville and other sponsors have forged an agreement with Internet2 to connect the state’s schools, museums and libraries to Internet2’s high-performance national research and education network. Tennessee joins 36 other states across the country in the Internet2’s sponsored Educational Group Participant Program.

“Internet2 represents one of the most advanced networks in the world. The Tennessee program allows students and faculty statewide to collaborate and participate in innovative learning experiences wherever they may be,” Brice Bible, UT Chief Information Officer said.

Internet2 is a consortium of more than 200 top research universities, working in tandem with corporate and affiliate members, to develop and use advanced Internet technologies. Tennessee is the 37th state to join Internet2.

With Internet2’s network, schools can have virtual laboratories, digital libraries and increased distance education programs.

“The Internet2 network allows worldwide communication and collaboration, providing an invaluable opportunity for Tennessee’s K-12 teachers and students,” said Bob Collie, senior vice president of technology and chief technology officer for Education Networks of America in Nashville. ENA provides the state’s K-12 ConnecTEN educational network.

“From virtual laboratories to expanded distance learning, this network will provide endless opportunities and make Tennessee one of the few states with a truly comprehensive and equitable network service for all schools.”

Collie said that Internet2 will offer students new educational opportunities, including live undersea exploration demonstrations from remote locations with famed oceanographer Bob Ballard, master music classes from world-renowned instructors and multi-site video conferencing events such as the recent “National Constitution Day” that bridged hundreds of students across the United States to read the Constitution together allowing them to share and learn alongside their peers.

Until now, UT, University of Memphis and Vanderbilt University were the only Tennessee schools with direct access to Internet2’s advanced network.

Last summer, Internet2 approved the sponsorship agreement — drafted by officials at UT and the University of Memphis — that extends the network to all of the state’s education institutions. The three sponsoring institutions will share the fee to enable the connectivity and provide technical assistance to bring the new participants online.

Most of Tennessee’s public K-12 schools have access now; museums and libraries will have access to Internet2’s network within the next couple of months. Private schools will go online as soon as some additional technical work is completed.

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,
Brice Bible, (865) 974-0320,
Lillian Kellogg, (615) 312-6072,