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Note: The following is based on a proposal submitted to the NSF CCLI program in 2004. While the feedback from the reviewers indicated that they liked the overall idea, they suggested to broaden the participating institutions (we had a local community college as our main partner), and to improve the evaluation and assessment methods. Some of the material also refers to a colloquium course that I offered in the Spring 2003 quarter, see Most of it is copied and pasted from a PDF file, and there may be some minor formating issues; I tried to clean up the more significant ones.

This is intended as the starting point for a discussion among members of the Teaching and Learning SIG.  

Proposal Summary: Using Internet2 for Teaching and Learning

PI Franz Kurfess California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, CA, Computer Science

Co-PIs [...]

The use of advanced technology enables teaching-oriented institutions to conduct courses on topics
and in formats that are frequently difficult to offer in traditional settings. Our proposal here is to
develop a course about Internet2 as an example of advanced computer and networking technology,
and at the same time actively utilizing Internet2 capabilities and resources such as videoconferenc-
ing, virtual teamwork, archiving and streaming of course material, or the remote use of facilities.
This particular proposal describes a one-year effort directed at the development of course material
to be used in a prototype course in the Spring or Fall 2005 quarter. The emphasis for this prototype
lies on the preparation of the main teaching material, and on gathering practical experience with
the utilization of Internet2 capabilities in a teaching environment. It is our intention to submit a
follow-up proposal with a significantly larger number of participating institutions, an expanded
choice of topics, and a more careful consideration of the effectiveness of teaching and learning
methods in such a context.

Intellectual Merit

This course is intended to enhance knowledge and understanding about advanced technology in
the form of high-speed networking. Its main target audience are students and faculty from all dis-
ciplines. It is designed in such a way that it can be adapted to more technically oriented audiences
(e.g. in engineering or computer science), or to the needs of a general education curriculum with
less emphasis on the technology, and more on its potential uses in different disciplines. The core
team members have been "Internet2 Champions" at Cal Poly SLO for several years. The principal
PI, Franz J. Kurfess, taught an experimental version of a similar course in Spring 2003. The main
resources required are access to Internet2 and rooms with videoconferencing capabilities, and are
available at the partner institutions.

Broader Impacts

While the emphasis in the course itself is not on the development of new and original concepts,
the distributed nature of the course in combination with the use of advanced technology enables
participants to experiment with novel teaching and learning methods. In addition to the use of
advanced technology during the course period itself, most of the course material can also be dis-
seminated widely through established repositories, and allows other institutions to teach similar
courses with very low overhead. This will be especially beneficial to two- and four-year colleges
where instructors will be hard pressed to familiarize themselves with all the material. Colleges
with predominantly underrepresented groups can obtain access to resources that would normally
be beyond their reach. We believe that this course has the potential of very broad impacts on a very
wide and diverse audience.

Proposal Description

1 Introduction 

One of the challenges faced by institutions with an emphasis on teaching is to expose students to
recent advances in research and technology. With the strong emphasis on teaching, instructors of-
ten have difficulties keeping up with these advances, especially in disciplines like computer science
where the pace of change in technology and topics is relentless. In this proposal, we are suggesting
to utilize the capabilities of the Internet2 high-bandwith infrastructure to enable instructors to offer
a course with the Internet2 ( both as a topic and as a medium
for content delivery. While the primary targets are teaching-oriented undergraduate institutions, it
can be utilized by a wide range of organizations, including high schools, two-year colleges, and
research universities (Kurfess (2004a,b); Delaney et al. (2001); Ackerman et al. (2001); Internet2
(2001); Hughes (2000)). The course will be designed in such a way that it can also be offered in a
distributed, team-taught manner, thus allowing multiple institutions to pool resources. While there
is a technical section in the course discussing methods and technologies used in high-bandwidth
networking, it can be targeted either to a more technically oriented population like computer sci-
ence and engineering students, or to a broader student population in the form of a general education
elective course.

2 Goals and Objectives

The purpose of this proposal is to enhance the utilization of Internet2 for teaching and learning
purposes by developing a framework and specific course material for a course using Internet2
simultaneuosly as topic and as a support method for teaching this course. The course topics will
range from the technologies and engineering aspects used in the underlying infrastructure over
the use of Internet2 in applications for various disciplines to the potential implications of high-
bandwith networking for society as a whole.

3 Project Plan

The course relies heavily on the use of Internet2 itself. Experts in a particular area can deliver
lectures via the videoconferencing capabilities of Internet2, presentations from repositories like the
Internet2 commons can be streamed from a server, demonstrations of interesting applications can
be given live or retrieved from servers, students can collaborate with other students or researchers
via Internet2 in distributed or virtual teams, and instructors from different institutions can co-teach
the course. In addition to more lecture-oriented course material, practical exercises and student
projects directly involving various Internet2 capabilities will be designed. They are intended not
only to be used directly in other courses, but can also serve as starting points for other instructors
to develop their own activities that match their specific interests and the particular situation at the
respective institutions.
The course is intended for a diverse student population, and not only for those with a specific
interest in the technical aspects of high-speed networking. The course framework is designed in
such a way that it can be adapted and enhanced easily by instructors from different disciplines at a
variety of institutions. This proposal will concentrate on the development of core teaching material,
and on gathering practical experience using the infrastructure and capabilities of Internet2 in a
teaching-oriented environment (see Howell (2001); Ross and Schulz (1999)). We are planning a
follow-up proposal with a larger number of participating institutions, an expanded range of topics,
and a more elaborate framework for the integration of course materials such as (Peylo (2003); Weitl
et al. (2002); Zhao et al. (2002); Broekstra et al. (2001); S  ̈uß and Freitag (2000); S  ̈uß et al. (2000);
Decker et al. (2000); Levy and Weld (2000); DeRoure et al. (1998)). That follow-up proposal will
also address the effectiveness of using the Internet2 infrastructure and capabilities in a teaching
environment, and investigate the use of various methods and techniques for teaching and learning
(see Aase and Kurfess (2004); Dogru and Tanik (2003); Kurfess et al. (2003); Ertas et al. (2003);
Zhao et al. (2002); Burger and Rothermel (2001); Grasha (2000); Kemp et al. (1998); Kolb (1984)).
An experimental version of a similar course was taught by the PI at California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO) in the Spring 2003 quarter (Kurfess (2004a,b)). This
course was rather experimental in nature, and essentially carried out as a seminar on top of the
regular teaching duties without additional funding. Most of the course material is available on the
Web at ̃fkurfess/Courses/CSC-490/S03/CSC-490.shtml.

3.1 Course Framework

While the development of actual teaching material within this proposal is limited to a prototype,
it will be used to serve as a proof of concept for a framework that enables a variety of institutions
and instructors to assemble similar courses that match their specific needs. It will provide a set of
guidelines for the utilization and generation of course materials such that individual components
can be combined with moderate overhead into lectures or sections. We are investigating the use
of existing frameworks such as S  ̈uß and Freitag (2000); S  ̈uß et al. (2000), but our emphasis at this
point is more on compatibility of components at the conceptual level (Weitl et al. (2002); Zhao
et al. (2002); Kurfess et al. (2001); Chang et al. (2001); Jololian et al. (2000)), and not so much at
the actual implementation level.

3.2 Possible Course Topics

In the following list, we describe possible topics for the content of the course. For this proposal, we
will develop materials only for a subset, however. The specific topics addressed by the individual
collaborators are indicated in the list. In addition to the formal team members, we will have guest
lectures by experts from the Internet2 consortium, CENIC, companies with expertise in high-speed
networking such as Cisco, and Cal Poly's Information Technology group. 

Internet2 Overview

This topic will include a presentation by a guest speaker from the Internet2
consortium. In the Spring 2003 version, a similar presentation was given by Doug van
Houweling, the president of the Internet2 consortium.

High-Speed Networks

An overview of existing and planned high-speed networks will be given.
This includes of course the Internet2 itself, but also
similar regional, national and international efforts. Most likely, this will be followed by a
separate session on actual examples of such networks, subject to the availability of guest
speakers. In another related session, the high-speed networking infrastructure here at Cal
Poly will be examined. This will include presentations and demonstrations by experts from
Cal Poly's ITS department, including a guided tour to Cal Poly networking "hot spots."
High-Speed Networking Technology Also coordinated by Hugh Smith, the focus in this session
will be on the principles and technology of high-speed networking. Speakers from Internet2,
CENIC, or companies will be invited to discuss the technology they are using or producing.
Internet2 Capabilities The goal of this session is to examine various ways of utilizing the high-
bandwith infrastructure provided via Internet2. At this point, the course participants will
probably be already used to the videoconferencing aspects, so it will be important to show
that there is more to it. Collaboration among team members in different locations, the use
of remotely available equipment, high-performance distributed computing, and distributed
theatrical or musical performances are additional capabilities made possible by Internet2 and
similar networks.

Internet2 in Various Disciplines

In the Spring 2003 version, Ann Doyle and Gary Yun from the
Internet2 consortium gave overview talks of the use of Internet2 in the arts and humanities,
and the sciences, respectively. We are planning to have similar presentations for different
disciplines for this project.

Internet2 Application Examples

One example for such a session will be developed by David
Gillette and Enrica Lovaglio, another by Randy Scovil. The first one is centered around a
project currently under way at Cal Poly. It is a virtual environment developed in collabora-
tion between people from Arts and Languages, Architecture, and Computer Science. Randy
Scovil has an extensive background in radio, and is a radio sports commentator. Cuesta
College also has an excellent program in radio and television, plus the corresponding stu-
dio facilities. A team at Cuesta College will investigate the use of Internet2 capabilities
in this domain. In addition, we are planning to have guest lectures by outside speakers on
applications that they developed or are using.

Internet2 Opportunities

In the Spring 2003 version, an introduction on this topic was given by
Doug van Houweling, the president of the Internet2 consortium. In addition, the course
participants engaged in a lively discussion, and came up with a wide variety of possible uses
for Internet2 and high-bandwidth networking in general. Among the more predictable ones
were sharing of music and movies, or video chats with buddies all over the world. One
student actually tried to arrange a job interview with a large software company near Seattle
using the Internet facilities, but the logistics turned out to be a little too challenging, and the
risk of something going wrong was a little too great for such an important event.

Implications of High-Speed Networking

In the decade since the World Wide Web has been widely
available, many aspects of our professional and personal lives have changed considerably.
While shopping on the Web, email, instant messaging, etc. clearly have their benefits, phe-
nomena like spam, viruses, and identity theft also point to a darker side of the Internet. This
session will try to identify some possible benefits and problems of high-bandwidth network-
ing, and its potential impact on individuals and society.

Future of Internet2

The future of Internet2 was the main theme in the talk by Doug von Houwel-
ing during the Spring 2003 version. It would have been nice to replay his presentation two
years or so later, but unfortunately we didn't have the capability to capture video conferences
at that time. We hope that he or somebody else from the Internet2 consortium will be able to
offer us an updated view of the Internet2 from their perspective.

For each topic, our plan is to have the following components:
Overview: A high-level overview of the topic. In about 15 minutes, the main aspects, important
concepts, and critical ideas are presented. This is intended for a general audience without a
specific background in networking or computer science.
Specific Content: In a few modules of about 15-30 minutes, the main content of the topic is
presented. By their nature, these modules may be more technical, but we will try to make
them self-contained, and provide pointers to additional sources for further information.
Demonstrations: For most topics, it is possible to actually demonstrate the use of Internet2 ca-
pabilities in a particular area. Live music, theater, or dance performances in the arts, the
remote use of equipment such as electron microscopes or shake tables in the sciences and
engineering, or discussions with native speakers from another country in the languages are
examples here.
Practical Exercises: True to Cal Poly's motto "Learning by Doing" each session will incorpo-
rate some exercises where the participants themselves utilize Internet2 capabilities. Some
possibilities are virtual project meetings with participants at different locations, distributed
performances of short skits or musical pieces, or scientific experiments involving remote
Projects: In addition to the short practical exercises, the participants will work in small on a larger
project for the duration of the course. Ideally, these projects should be interdisciplinary in
nature, and involve people with different backgrounds.
Assessment and Evaluation: Each session will include a component that allows the evaluation of
the learning success. This may include traditional questions and exercises, demonstrations
of skills by solving practical problems, short reports, or other methods that may be specific
to particular areas.
If feasible, the material will be made available via the course repository in an appropriate format
(see Sec. 4.2). All of the material developed by the formal project members will be made available,
but some of the guest speaker's materials may be subject to limitations prohibiting this.

4 Collaboration

4.1 Experience and Capabilities of Investigators 

[Text omitted at the request of Co-PIs] 

 4.2 Dissemination of Material

It is our intent to make all of the course material available to others. At this point, it is not clear
what the best model for this is, both due to conceptual as well as technological constraints (e.g.
the amount of storage space and bandwith required). Initially, we are planning to use local re-
sources at the partner institutions. We will also investigate other options such as the talks and
videos repository maintained by Internet2 (, the
ResearchChannel (, or the Merlot educational re-
source repository (

4.3 Time Line and Management Plan

[Text omitted at the request of Co-PIs]

5 Summary: Significance of Proposed Work

5.1 Intellectual Merit

The proposed activity provides access to experts in various fields, enables instructors to easily
share course materials or pool resources, and allows students to explore areas of interest where
no guidance from local instructors is available. This is especially relevant when offered to a broad
student population, where students from different disciplines are brought together through technol-
ogy in order to enhance their understanding of their own as well as of other fields. We believe that
there is considerable intellectual merit in a course that allows institutions to substantially improve
access to advanced knowledge and understanding both about the technologies used, and in a large
variety of fields that can benefit from the capabilities provided by Internet2. Especially with the
wide acceptance of high-speed communication networks among students, and their curiosity to ex-
plore novel tools and technologies, we believe that the adoption of Internet2 as a course topic while
simultaneously using it to augment teaching is a reasonably novel idea. It offers an opportunity for
students to explore topics beyond the expertise of their local instructors, and enables instructors to
offer a course on advanced technology that would be very labor-intensive to prepare in a traditional
setting. It allows instructors to gather experience with novel technology with substantially lower
overhead and risk, enabling them also to experiment with novel teaching methods, such as team
teaching with distributed co-instructors and classes, or the incorporation of remote facilities and
resources. The core of the investigators consists of several Cal Poly SLO "Internet2 champions,"
who have worked for about three years on raising the awareness of Internet2 at an institution with
a strong emphasis on undergraduate teaching. The team is augmented by investigators from differ-
ent types of institutions, one of them being a two-year college that just recently gained access to
Internet2 via optical fiber networking.

5.2 Broader Impacts

This proposal addresses the need of higher education institutions to expose their students to recent
advances in technology, and the impact they have on teaching and learning, communities, profes-
sional activities, and society as a whole. Without relying on instructors to personally acquire the
necessary knowledge, it enables students to utilize powerful methods, tools, and technologies that
are completely out of reach in conventional classroom settings. It can be especially valuable for
students at smaller or remote institutions, such as community colleges or smaller campuses. The
course provides a vehicle for institutions and instructors to provide their students with access to
advanced research and education facilites, and encourages the establishment of networks and part-
nerships, e.g. between teaching-oriented and research-oriented institutions, or among institutions
with similar profiles. By utilizing Internet2 both as topic of discourse and as a tool, it is very easy
to make the outcomes of classes, be it course material or student term projects, available to a wide
audience. Students participating in such a class will have a better understanding of the technol-
ogy and infrastructure for advanced communications networks. They will be better prepared for a
broader use of similar facilities by commercial organizations or government, and some may find
widened opportunities to pursue their personal or professional goals. This course has the potential
for much broader impacts than courses focused on a single discipline. In addition to students, this
course will be of value for technicians and technologists, and for faculty professional development.
Technicians and technologists, either from centralized Information Technology groups, or located
in specific departments, will have an excellent opportunity to enhance their knowledge about In-
ternet2, and at the same time practice their skills utilizing the respective capabilities and tools in a
realistic setting. Of particular value may be the opportunity to collaborate with their counterparts
at the other institutions, and from the Internet2 consortium. In the Internet2 course taught at Cal
Poly in Spring 2003, we also integrated presentations and demonstrations by various people from
our ITS group. This was very informative for the course participants, and offered them a look
behind the scences. The ITS docents also enjoyed the opportunity to talk about their work, in par-
ticular the exciting (and sometimes frustrating) aspects of utilizing cutting edge technology. For
faculty members, such a course offers an opportunity to learn about new technology in a teaching
environment. During our Spring 2003 version of the course, we had several faculty participants,
although most of them attended only those parts that were of specific interest to them.
In total, we believe that this course can greatly benefit students, faculty, and staff by offering
them an opportunity to learn about and at the same time utilize cutting-edge technology in combi-
nation with new methods to utilize high-bandwidth networking for novel approaches to teaching.  


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