Top Internet2 Blogs Reflect a Year of Community Outreach and Growth

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

By Miriam Finet, Internet2 Web Communications Developer

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What a year. Rather than focus on the negative, it is clear we need to celebrate that our community knows how to literally regroup. When the COVID-19 pandemic spread in 2020, many of you in the research and education community found ways to connect, engage, and flourish online as you pivoted to remote study and research.

Since we’re all data-driven, we’ve pulled some of the top blogs in 2020 in terms of monthly email clicks and seven-day web views. The results show our community’s need to join and learn from virtual workshops, understand the impacts of remote work, check in and monitor network connectivity and build-out project updates, and learn how Internet2 supports them in “cloudy times.” Here are highlights from some of our top blogs in case you missed them the first time around. (Side note: We’re also pleased to showcase these blogs on our newly launched website!)

Performing arts group

Performing Arts Workshop Offers Opportunities for Artists, Administrators: When the Network Performing Arts Production Workshop (NPAPW) in April was canceled due to COVID-19, organizers realized there was still a need to reach out to the community. Internet2 and GÉANT have been partnering for years on NPAPW. With the sudden shift to online teaching, the NPAPW community provided advice and general best practices for teaching performing arts online during an April 2 webinar, which drew 141 participants.

Understanding Network Impacts of Increased Online Learning Activities: This whitepaper, authored at the beginning of the pandemic by Rob Vietzke, Vice President of Network Services at Internet2, describes how campus, regional, and Internet2 networks provide access to cloud-based learning, and what will change as campuses migrate to online learning by off-campus students.

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Optimizing Your Home Network for Working and Learning: Soon after the pandemic spread nationwide, Internet2 Security Architect Steven Wallace quickly responded with a how-to-navigate-your-home-network blog post. In most cases, Wallace noted, the network traffic from the student to the cloud-based learning management systems and video applications switched to commercial networks and no longer traversed the research and education networks. To accommodate this change, Steven shared a host of troubleshooting ideas as this large influx of new traffic competed for increased daytime home use.

Zoom Logo

Internet2 Zoom Webinar Addresses Higher Education Security & Privacy Commitment: 2020 was the year that Zoom became a household name. Quyen Vaillant, Internet2 Assoc. Program Manager, NET+ Cloud Services, shared highlights of an April 14 webinar with Zoom. Speaking to over 600 members of the higher ed community, Internet2 and Zoom detailed Zoom’s commitment to creating the best and safest Zoom meeting experiences for users and addressed security, privacy, data, and any other community concerns.

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December 2020 NGI Update: Optical and Packet Migration Progress: The community eagerly followed updates to the Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) program in 2020. The NGI program reviews and updates the services, value, and supporting technology of the Internet2 infrastructure portfolio, as well as the relationships within the larger ecosystem. Slated for completion this summer, bloggers Chris Wilkinson, Internet2 Director of Network Planning and Architecture, and Scott Taylor, Internet2 Packet Platform Implementation Director, provided an update on Dec. 15 about the NGI optical upgrade. The program is completing its flex grid line system from the east to the west coasts through the Great Plains. When complete, the community will have a leading 800G+ capable flex grid system that has transitioned onto new fibers in much of the country.

Internet2 Network Update: COVID-19 Initial Connectivity Upgrades Complete: As students and faculty transitioned to remote access, Chris Wilkinson shared a May 15 update that Internet2 recently completed upgrades to the Internet2 Peer Exchange (I2PX) connectivity to home broadband providers and key content providers.

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Get Going with Your IAM Solutions with Expert Help and Training: As budget and resource constraints impacted colleges, universities, and research agencies, identity and access management (IAM) challenges grew with more people working and learning remotely. This July 13 blog post highlighted how the InCommon Collaboration Success Program (CSP) is designed to help higher education or research organizations reach their IAM goals.

Internet2 NET+ Spring Update: Supporting Internet2 Members in Cloudy Times: The R & E community became increasingly reliant on cloud services in 2020 to meet the needs of faculty, staff, and students. Sean O’Brien, Director, Internet2 NET+ Cloud Services Program, outlined three ways the Internet2 NET+ program is supporting members through the acquisition or expansion of licensing for cloud services; facilitating the sharing of information and best practices within the community; and working with our Internet2 colleagues to ensure connectivity to cloud services over R & E networks.

Networking for Cloud image of students working on laptops

Registration Now Open for Internet2’s Learning Management Systems Town Hall Virtual Series: The pandemic posed real challenges for those who quickly needed to adopt a learning management system (LMS) to help them teach remotely. Dana Voss, Internet2 Program Manager, Cloud Services, and Matthew Buss, Internet2 Program Manager, announced an LMS Town Hall Virtual Series in conjunction with the NET+ LMS service providers Blackboard, Desire2Learn, and Instructure. The series, held June 24 and July 1, covered LMS success stories during COVID-19; the challenges in transitioning to virtual learning; lessons learned, and plans for the fall semester. The workshops drew over a hundred participants.

Next Generation Optical Implementation Progress: The R & E community is clearly monitoring the progress of the nationwide upgrade of the optical network infrastructure. Chris Wilkinson outlined how the upgrade continues to pick up speed thanks to a joint effort by Internet2, CenturyLink, and Ciena staff. He shared that the project is divided into phases centered on major metros, so the team can build out new flex-grid equipment on upgraded long-haul fibers and transition services onto it.

Reach Out

As we begin a new year at Internet2, we hope to continue to blog about the topics and issues that matter to you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on R & E topics we should be covering, so please reach out by filling out our form!