In 1997, video distance learning began to make an impact on education in Ohio through funding contributions made by Ohio's large local exchange telephone companies as a result of various stipulations and agreements with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. By 2003, Ohio Legislature, with Ohio SchoolNet (now eTech Ohio) as the implementing agency, had allocated over $28 million in funding to approximately 450 schools, in over 35 telecommunity consortia, for interactive video distance learning projects. The initial telecommunity schools connected through Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and, in some cases, operated as a closed consortia network.
Funds were also allocated for successful telecommunity consortia to add new partners and to continue to support the goals of the consortia and the Ohio telecommunity initiative. Competitive grants became available to provide seed money for Ohio organizations (content providers) to purchase video distance learning equipment and develop K-12 educational lessons that met Ohio school curriculum needs. Many of the original telecommunity consortia, content providers, and eTech Ohio continue to lead the growth of video distance learning in Ohio.
Interactive Video Distance Learning (IVDL)
In 1998, House Bill 770 established the Interactive Video Distance Learning (IVDL)
Pilot to provide public high
schools (local, exempted village, city and joint vocational) across the State of Ohio grants so that
students and educators can access resources -- information, human, experiences, and electronic --
to improve learning. The overall purposes of IVDL Pilot
- Build different but compatible models of interactive video distance learning that can be studied,
modified and replicated
- Pilot an ATM network for voice, video and data transmission
- Enhance teaching and student learning through professional development for teachers and content
development among all participants
Priority was given to schools in districts that were considered low wealth and in districts without interactive video distance funded through the Telecommunity grant opportunity or other sources. ETech Ohio was the implementing agency for both the Telecommunity and IVDL projects.
Telecommunity and IVDL consortia were frequently coordinated by educational agencies such as educational service centers (ESCs), educational technology foundation agencies (Ed Techs), information technology centers (ITCs) and urban school districts. The Ed Techs provided the foundation for what today is recognized as OhioDL.org by coordinating meetings throughout the year to encourage information sharing and collaboration among the various distance learning consortia and educational agencies. The Ed Techs designed and maintained the initial distance learning website which linked to many Ohio distance learning consortia and content provider websites and provided training materials on equipment usuage and teaching strategies.
Today, the various OhioDL.org member agencies and school districts share the responsibility of maintaining the organization's website and coordinating meeting throughout the year. The strength of OhioDL.org is built on leadership, collaboration, and the belief that video distance learning can provide real-world opportunities for students and teachers that can positively affect student achievement and professional growth.
The eTech Ohio Videoconferencing Network Operations Center (VNOC), operates and maintains a state-wide videoconference network providing service to over 1,150 active video network users. The current network standards support video transmission protocols for H.323/IP, H.320/ATM and H.320/Direct connect T-1.
VNOC supported services include
- Video bridging management and operations
- Videoconference scheduling
- Consultation and new site registration
- Help desk and technical support