Planning Your School's Connection
In setting up your internet connection here are some points to consider:
What are the Schools Needs?
- Do you wish to have access for both teachers and students, you need to ask
who will use the internet and why? - teachers in lesson preparations or/and
students in research and classroom collaboration.
- Where in your school should the connection be placed, choices include
general areas, restricted areas like the library, staff room or principals
office, or even offsite access. This decision should fit into the schools
curriculum plans for the technology and you should consider both student and
teacher needs, you can extend the capabilities and resources as the finances
and curriculum imperatives are decided. It may be better to start small and
build up as resources and knowledge grows.
- How many computers do you want connected. The majority of schools start
out with the one computer connected and build up through the use of routers to
five - 12 computers as they become more familiar with the technology and the
demand within the school grows. Start small - only one or a few online
connections initially is enough (both financially and as a first phase as the
technology becomes more accepted and used within the school - extend your
capabilities and resources when finances and curriculum imperatives are
- How much access time do you think you will need. Start with a short term
agreement and compare prices with subscription. By doing this you are able to
assess your usage and are also able to take advantage of the tender to
internet providers when it is finalized.
Setting up a plan
- Set up a school 'working party' of interested staff - For example a
Multimedia and Telecommunications Subcommittee
- This technology is certainly not an answer - it is a complement to an
already strong curriculum. Ensure someone from your Curriculum Development
Area is included on the committee
- Teacher professional development is important - this technology will only
work if staff and students can see it as accessible and relevant to classroom
activities. Find our more about the Learning With the Internet
Professional Development Program run by the Victorian Department of
Education or look at joining a Collaborative Internet
Project or obtain a copy of one of the Learning With The
Internet TV Series Videos.
What You Will Need
Single User AccessThe simplest and most inexpensive form of
internet connection is a single user dial up. It is ideal if the only way of
connecting is via a phone line and only one person needs to use the internet at
one time. Single user dial up access can be done with:
- a standard computer - this can be a Personal Computer (PC) or Macintosh.
The computer itself doesn't have to be a high powered machine to access most
things on the internet but to properly experience some of the newer multimedia
dealing with sounds, digital movies and
interactive software however, you may require one of the more powerful
- a modem - which takes the digital information from your computer, converts
it to an analog signal so that it can travel over the telephone lines to
another modem at the other end which then coverts it back into digital
information for the receiving computer. Modems can be either internal (inside
your computer) or external (linked by a cable). Modems are rated by the speed
that they are able to send and receive information. A 56-kilobaud modem is
the standard today.
- a telephone line - a separate telephone line is preferable as you are
unable to make voice telephone calls when you are connected and people will
receive a busy signal if they are trying to call you - unless you have call
waiting where you will then lose your internet connection and your telephone
will ring for you to pick up. This can be pretty annoying if you are in the
middle of downloading a 10MB file.
- An internet access account - which you can obtain through an Internet Service
Provider. The Internet Service
Provider that you choose will provide you with disks or paper instructions
on how to set up your internet connection. With this type of set up you pay
for the time that you use the internet. Either a fixed amount for a fixed
amount of time or on a per usage basis. There are some points you will need to
consider when selecting an
Internet Service Provider.
- Once you are connected to the internet you will need a few extra things
such as Web Browser
software and Email Software which you can
purchase from a software supplier.
Multi User AccessMulti-user access means that two or more people
can access the internet from different computers at the same time. The simplest
way to obtain multi user access is by purchasing another modem and another
telephone line, thus having two single user dial up accounts.
A more sophisticated approach involves setting the computers that are at
different points in your school or organization into a Local Area Network (LAN).
Once set up into a LAN a router can be used to provide multiple access. Routers
are available as hardware or software.
Software RoutersRouting software products like Wingate and Vicom can be much easier to
maintain and cheaper to run then hardware routers. These software products
operate in a similar manner allowing multiple computers to access the Internet
through the one modem and one Internet Service Provider account.
Vicom Internet Gateway allows multiple users on a single network to share one
Internet address over a standard dial up internet connection. The software then
uses appletalk to communicate with the other machines on the network. This means
that multiple PC, UNIX, and MAC users can access the Mac-based gateway
simultaneously over a Local Area Network (LAN).
The software needs to be setup on one computer. This is done by simply
clicking on an install icon and then answering a series of questions to do with
how you want the software to be set up.
This computer then becomes the gateway which the other computers on the LAN
use to access the internet. Each machine on the network then needs its MACTCP to
be set to an IP address within a certain range. This means that the MACTCP
program on the computers attached to the LAN use the Internet address of the
gateway LAN use to access the internet. Once this is setup the gateway can be
logged onto the internet and the machines on the LAN are able to use the
Internet through the Gateway constantly "on the net".
The software needs to be installed on a machine which is reasonably new. The
speed of the gateway can be improved by installing it on a fast machine which
has a high speed serial port.
For more information on the Wingate Software Try this link.
Hardware RoutersHardware routers can be purchased for use with an ADSL
or DSL line and will start in price at about $200. This will give the capacity to distribute information to
computers. Hardware routers can also be purchased for use with an ISDN
line and will start in price at about $2500. ISDN links increase the number of
users significantly. The more expensive the more users able to gain access. At
$2000 you will probably have the capacity to distribute information to 12
computers. At a price level of about $7000 - 800 users will have access. Some
routers will enable you to attach another modem to them to double the access.
You are still using a single user dial up connection with a standard telephone
line by using two routers and two modems you now have access for 24 computers.
GatewaysAn internet gateway is another way to provide multi-user access
to students and teachers. Gateways serve the function of allowing either access
to email systems on the internet or connecting different types of networks. In
other words a gateway is a computer system that acts as a translator between
different types of computers to allow them to interact in cyberspace. Gateways
can cost anywhere between $5000 and $15000 depending on the number of users you
wish to give access to, the degree of sophistication you want from the system
and how much you actually want to do yourself or outsource. As well as having
total control over email accounts and most flexibility to publish material
directly onto the internet, you also have the ability to cache web pages on your
own server providing much easier access to them.
How to Choose an Internet Service ProviderAn Internet Service
Provider establishes and gives you access to the internet. Whether you
obtain a dial up account or lease a separate ISDN line you will still need to go
through an Internet
Service Provider to obtain access to the internet. Providers will either
give you access on a per usage basis or you can pay a fixed amount for a fixed
amount of hours.
There are a number of factors that you need to consider when selecting an
Internet Service Provider like:
© State of Victoria
(Department of Education, Employment & Training)
Initiative of the
Last Updated: August 11, 2000