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   Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Digital California Project (DCP)?
The Digital California Project is a multi-million dollar initiative funded by the State of California that makes available high-performance network capability to every county and school district for use by K-12 teachers and students.
What is CENIC?
The Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) is a non-profit corporation founded by the five major California universities: California Institute of Technology, California State University, Stanford University, University of California, and the University of Southern California. The mission of CENIC is to facilitate and coordinate the development, deployment, and operation of a set of robust advanced communications services for education and research organizations in California based on the newest Internet technology.
Through its development of projects like the DCP and CalREN-2, CENIC is meeting the challenge of delivering the advanced network technology of tomorrow to all of California's education communities today.
What are the goals of the DCP?
The DCP has five major goals:
  1. To extend existing education networks to create a powerful common communications infrastructure that every school in California can gain access to and utilize.
  2. To provide the necessary support needed to sustain a high-performance statewide education backbone network.
  3. To facilitate strong working relationships between California's K-12 and the higher education systems.
  4. To enable educators to obtain access to the tools needed to prepare students to enter the dynamic knowledge economy of the next century.
  5. To facilitate access to the many rich information resources and exciting new educational programs available through the Internet.
Why do we need the DCP?
Although initiatives like the Digital High School Program and the Federal E-Rate Program were put in place to develop the infrastructure needed to connect schools within districts, no cohesive effort existed in California to address the problems and challenges of statewide connectivity.
In order to meet this need, the DCP will extend two high-performance advanced-services networks to support connections to K-12: CENIC's own California Research and Education Network-2 (CalREN-2) and California State University's 4CNet. The DCP will use CalREN-2/ 4CNet not only to enable interconnection of every educational institution in California, but also to provide unparalleled access to the public Internet and the Internet2 community.
What kinds of benefits will the DCP provide?
The DCP represents a clear plan of action that helps all California's schools prepare for the future. This vision includes:
  1. Developing a Technology Infrastructure
    Developing an integrated high-speed statewide network infrastructure will provide a backbone that can be used to expand K-12 schools' connectivity to each other, to California higher education institutions, and to K-12 schools, universities and other organizations across the globe.
  2. Enhancing Professional Development
    The DCP will strengthen the existing program and service relationships between the CENIC universities, community colleges, and K-12 schools in the areas of teacher preparation, curriculum development, student outreach, and information resource sharing.
  3. Integrating Curriculum-Based Applications
    Applications using technology, especially Web-based collaborations, will be enabled to enhance the teaching-learning processes and to help students meet the educational standards set forth by the State.
  4. Providing Connectivity to Information Resources
    Identifying and making accessible a rich array of learning content and information resources from throughout the state and the world will be of vital importance to both teachers and students alike.
What kinds of new applications will be available for use with the DCP network?
The DCP network makes a rich array of learning content and information resources accessible to K-12 educators and students. High-performance networks allow schools to:
  • Supplement their own physical libraries with information resources and digital libraries from around the world
  • Share laboratory facilities with other educational institutions using a new generation of multimedia Internet collaboration tools
  • Offer a wider variety of classes (including Advanced Placement and additional foreign language courses) to their student body
  • Participate in exciting new training and skills development programs offered by industry and higher education
  • Gain access to the next generation of (potentially interactive) Internet television transmissions
  • Foster strong working relationships with corporate, higher education, and other K-12 institutions throughout the state of California and the world
While the DCP is not in the business of developing new applications, CENIC will focus on identifying applications that make best use of the expanded CalREN-2/4CNet advanced services network.
Some resources will require contractual relationships between the schools and the provider. Such requirements are outside the scope of the DCP.
What will the DCP network look like?
CENIC, in collaboration with affiliates from the K-12 system in California, is building a network of approximately 25 regional hubs and around 200 county access nodes in order to ensure that the CalREN-2/4CNet advanced-services networks reach every part of the state. Schools will be able to connect to one of the access nodes in whatever manner makes most sense in their particular circumstance.
Will my school be connected to the DCP network?
CENIC is extending the CalREN-2/ 4CNet high-performance network infrastructure into each of the 58 California counties. CENIC will work closely with the various county and district offices of education to help find solutions for how to connect every school in California to the DCP access nodes in each county.
How will the DCP help bridge the "digital divide" in California?
CENIC is committed to delivering high-performance networking services to every county in California. The DCP was designed to ensure that all of California's students would be able to benefit from the tremendous resources, exciting opportunities, and dynamic applications made possible by tomorrow's high-performance Internet.
Who will maintain this new network?
CENIC will administer a Network Operations Center (NOC) that will oversee the operations of the statewide DCP network on a round-the-clock basis. Individual counties and/or school districts will be responsible for developing and monitoring their own connections to the DCP network.
Who will pay for the establishment of the DCP network?
Governor Gray Davis and the California State Legislature have approved complete annual funding for the DCP starting with the 2000-2001 budget. This funding will be used to plan, implement, maintain, operate, and service the K-12 portion of the statewide network backbone. There will be no cost to the schools for DCP services.
Don't our schools already have Internet access?
Although access to the current public Internet has helped K-12 education, the sheer speed and power of the CalREN-2/4CNet network will open up a new realm of experience for K-12 students and educators alike.
High-performance networks (like CalREN-2/ 4CNet) represent a quantum leap from the types of Internet access currently available to most California's K-12 schools. Students now travel on the "information superhighway"; with the DCP network, they'll be able to work, learn, and grow from a state-of-the-art "launching pad".
Will the DCP force my district to discard its existing network infrastructure?
Quite the contrary. The DCP recognizes that the K-12 community has already made significant investments in infrastructure, and it will be developed so that K-12 entities can augment what is already in place if they so choose. In fact, districts without much infrastructure will find it more difficult to take advantage of the DCP services.
Will the DCP replace the dedicated access we already have at our site?
The DCP plan includes basic-level (to be determined in the planning phase) access to the commodity Internet through the DCP nodes as part of the overall service. It will be the choice of the individual sites if they wish to continue using their existing Internet Service Provider. DCP can also provide access to high performance networks such as the Internet2 Abilene network.
Will my link to the DCP access node cost more than my existing network connection?
The DCP planning process will determine the location of the 200 access node sites in order to maximize the benefit and minimize the overall costs to the surrounding K-12 communities. This strategic network deployment will help address the "digital divide" issues by bringing down the cost of the "last mile" to K-12 schools.
Will the DCP provide computers for our classrooms?
The DCP was designed to provide the means for existing computers in K-12 institutions to communicate with the outside world. Acquisition of additional personal computers or local networks is beyond the scope of this project.
How will K-12 be a part of the planning and development of the DCP network?
The DCP will not be successful unless it draws upon the resources and the expertise of K-12 educators and administrators.
The CENIC Board of Directors has established a broadly representative Program Steering Committee to formulate and oversee the planning, development, coordination, and implementation of the DCP.
Representatives from the following education organizations will serve on this committee:
  • CENIC Board of Directors
  • Association of California School Administrators
  • California County Superintendents Educational Services Association
  • California Department of Education
  • California Federation of Teachers
  • California School Boards Association
  • California Teachers Association
  • Computing Using Educators, Incorporated
  • California State Secretary of Education
  • California Small School Districts Association
How do I find out more about CENIC and the DCP?
A great deal of information about CENIC and the DCP is available on the Internet at: http://www.cenic.org/dcp/
Excerpted from "Frequently Asked Questions-August, 2000", CENIC
CEDPA K-12 Technologists was added to the Program Steering Committee after publication of this document.