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  • Connected, Collaborative Learning October 2010

  • Connected, Collaborative Learning

    Copyright © 2010 Dell, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 2


    © 2010 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this material in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of Dell Inc. is strictly forbidden. For more information, contact Dell.

    Dell, the DELL logo, and the DELL badge, PowerConnect, PowerEdge and PowerVault are trademarks of Dell Inc. Intel, and Xeon are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Learning Space is a registered trademark of ePals, Inc. Other trademarks and trade names may be used in this document to refer to either the entities claiming the marks and names or their products. Dell Inc. disclaims any proprietary interest in trademarks and trade names other than its own.

  • Connected, Collaborative Learning

    Copyright © 2010 Dell, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 3

    Real-time Access to Learning

    Today’s students engage differently with the world around them because of their ubiquitous use of technology to learn, socialize and have fun. To reach this digitally native student and help them build critical 21st century skills such as collaboration and critical thinking, schools are looking for new ways to effectively utilize technology to transform teaching and learning.

    To accomplish this, many districts have implemented online collaboration tools available “in the cloud”. These tools are accessible both during and after the school day, and from a variety of locations and devices. Many have started to see positive results as students are able to collaborate, communicate and create with respect to information they are learning, sometimes continuing to work on class projects well beyond the original scope of the assignment and with a diverse set of other students, teachers, and mentors.

    Collaborative experiences give teachers a way to engage the student by creating more participatory and tailored learning scenarios. Increasing the use of multimedia and encouraging personal learning environments helps today’s digital natives learn in a way they are both comfortable and motivated. Cloud-based collaboration tools and environments are also a benefit for budget conscious school districts because the solutions are housed and maintained by a remote third party and available as a service. This greatly reduces the expense of updating and maintaining the enterprise- class computer systems that are necessary in a traditional deployment requiring servers, storage, networking and support personnel to be located within the school or school district’s data center. While the need for end-user computing equipment is still in play, the cost savings to a school or school district able to utilize cloud-based application and content solutions are substantial.

    But as these online collaborative experiences increase in use and popularity, a problem is arising. Schools are realizing that their current bandwidth, network consumption models and topology may not be sufficient for the demands of real- time, 24x7, multimedia-rich learning. Simply increasing bandwidth as the need arises is not the answer due to budget constraints and a host of other factors. Multiple school districts from around the United States have already begun expressing the need for a more viable solution.

    With this in mind, Dell Inc. has partnered with ePals Inc. on a solution powered by Dell and Intel Corp. to create an advanced caching system for K-12 schools to ensure optimized real-time access to collaboration tools for greater learning. The companies have worked with a variety of school systems and application and content service providers on related solutions (one early solution created around this same problem statement is a video caching solution developed with Discovery Education), and most recently with Hauppauge School District in New York to fully understand the nature of collaborative use cases involving multimedia and its impact on actual network consumption and related cost constraints.

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    “An increasing number of school districts are implementing ePals LearningSpace in an effort to create more collaborative learning scenarios and to increase the use of multimedia to effectively teach today's students," said Ken Graham, assistant superintendent for the Hauppauge School District. "The caching solution will ensure real-time access to learning while keeping the budget limitations of school districts in mind.” Hauppauge School District was an early adopter of ePals LearningSpace™, which provides a cloud-based environment for student collaboration inside and outside the classroom. (See for more information)

    The Dell cloud-caching solution is an important addition to the K-12 market as it not only provides real-time access to learning, but also provides integration with ePals LearningSpace™, recognized for its sophisticated use of collaboration tools for learning purposes and incorporating ePals’ innovative security and policy- management features. This “all in one solution” provides a safe and flexible collaboration and learning experience in a reliable environment from any location at anytime. It can be used with a variety of different providers of cloud-based teaching and learning solutions (not just ePals).

    The solution is location aware, pulling from the most efficient location – cloud or local caching system − based on user location and the nature of the information being retrieved. For example, a student accessing a frequently viewed educational video at school might receive it from the caching system. Later in the day, that same student might access a project at home and receive it from the cloud. Users don’t need to know which location the information is coming from, or other network attributes, only that it is coming quickly and reliably when needed. At the same time, the device efficiently optimizes bandwidth and network capacity for schools.

    Dell can place the caching system at the school or district data center, based on each district’s individual needs and requirements. The system works seamlessly with the cloud-based solution, caching the most used and bandwidth-intensive learning content for ready access.

    “The cloud caching solution that Dell is developing for Hauppauge School District is designed to optimize the balance between anywhere, anytime access to collaborative learning experiences, and maximizing the end-user experience as students and teachers work with rich content and multi-media learning objects.” added Scott McFarlane, Director of Education, State and Local Services for Dell. “We have heard from content providers and school districts all over the United States that they want such a solution as it will provide teachers with the tools to engage students and get them excited about learning and their future.”

    Behind the technology is Dell’s expertise and cloud computing architectures and processes, and Intel’s expertise in advanced server performance. The solution is scalable to fit different capacity requirements, but is based on the Intel Xeon processor-powered R710 or M710 server solution, providing a high-level of performance in a proven, standard architecture. Dell Equallogic storage sits at the

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    heart of the solution, utilizing native SAN to SAN replication technology to ensure that data integrity is maintained at all times.

    The collaborative experiences are provided by ePals LearningSpace, a web-hosted virtual workspace optimized for creating, sharing, managing, and collaborating on educational content. Students and educators have the opportunity to experience purposeful, project-based learning in a collaborative and flexible, yet controlled, environment. The solution also brings together a complete suite of Web 2.0 tools including: blogs, wikis, digital lockers, forums, and more.

    The system also has enhanced security attributes provided by ePals role-based permissions and policy management solution − helping schools with collaborative learning experiences while keeping students safe. ePals’ industry-leading policy management technology, which fully implements regulatory frameworks such as COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), not only provides security, it also enables collaboration for real world learning. Examples of policies include:

    • Moderation − allows teachers to view certain communications between users to ensure the conversation is appropriate for security, while also allowing

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    collaboration through peer review to help students gain needed feedback on projects;

    • Filtering − communications can be filtered for profanity to protect students, while also enabling the discovery of relevant people and information based on the students’ interests or current assignment; and

    • Role-Based Permissions − can control ac