Colonial Intermediate Unit 20
As one of 29 intermediate units in Pennsylvania, Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 was created in 1971 to provide services to local school districts with the direct purpose of reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and providing support to administrators and teachers. More specifically, IU 20 aims to be “to be a resourceful community partner
supporting student growth through education, social services, and business initiatives.”
One important area in which IU 20 serves its districts is technology—and for that they came to PenTeleData. Why?
“PenTeleData had the most complete fiber coverage in our 3-county area making it cost effective to give all our school districts connectivity,” says the Technology and Auxiliary Services for IU 20, “We had been working with PenTeleData for several years on other projects and they presented the most cost-effective and flexible solution to meet our growing needs.”
The school districts served by IU 20 are using the Internet much more now in order to provide more resources for their students and staff—creating a much larger and constantly increasing demand for more bandwidth. Their Wide Area Network Project now spans three counties.
What they needed was the right cost, existing infrastructure and of course, the ability to grow to meet their needs, and they found all of this with PenTeleData. IU 20 has a fiber-based connection for Internet access as well as Wide Area Network transport services, and Internet2 connectivity—all from PenTeleData.
The Intermediate Unit uses these services for a wide variety of objectives:
“We connect to [school] districts and to statewide resources with Internet protocol based video conferencing equipment for consultation, professional development, and to provide services to students and staff in our districts,”; Their 100 employees in the central office specifically use the services for Internet access, e-mail, videoconferencing, and e-learning.
They have found that they now use these services to take videoconferencing to a level they never anticipated. “Our utilization of videoconferencing has started to move into areas we never expected—such as special education consultation meetings with district staff to develop solutions for students, allowing district staff to join meetings they were unable to attend in person, and delivering interactive presentations to multiple locations at the same time,”.
They have also begun exploring other ways of using technology to reduce costs for their districts—including offering content applications from a single location to multiple districts. But, they’ve come a long way through using technology for purposes like these. According to IU20, “Five years ago, we had 4 servers [Local Area Network]. Today, our Data Center consists of 17 servers and, with the implementation of our multi-district [Wide Area Network], we expect that number to increase as we implement new services for our districts.”
IU 20 says that the services they receive from PenTeleData work out very well for them—it allows them to expand their technology use into new areas: “With the implementation of the multi-district WAN, we can now move into areas such as data warehousing, video over IP, IP telecommunications, delivery of streaming video and other digital content to the classroom, and aggregation of services.”
Of course, reliability of service plays an important part for any institution, and IU 20 is no different. They have found their service from PenTeleData to be reliable, and that in the event of any issues, PenTeleData has been top-notch in both providing information about the issue as well as in response time.
Along with reliability comes support—IU 20 has found PenTeleData’s support staff both knowledgeable and helpful, and they have even called upon PenTeleData’s staff to assist them in training their own staff.
“[PenTeleData staff] have assisted us in some very difficult configuration for our wide area network to allow us to provide Internet2 connectivity for our districts. They have also provided assistance and guidance for setting up our wireless access points on our local area network,”.
Most institutions like IU 20 have important technology-related goals for the future. IU 20’s more immediate goal is to begin using their multi-district wide area network to provide additional services to their districts. Other technology goals for them include: data warehousing, storing and delivering streaming video and digital content, hosting complex student applications to aggregate services, online professional development for staff and courseware for students, video over IP, IP telecommunications, and network security solutions.
With such plans on the horizon, Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 and PenTeleData will continue to be partners in education, providing new and more exciting ways to bring classrooms to life and valuable educational resources to school districts, teachers, and students.