Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gwinnett County Public Schools Connects Homebound Students with Alcatel-Lucent Unified Communications and Collaboration Solution

/PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to better educate the greatest number of the county's pupils, Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), has extended the classroom beyond its campuses to reach homebound students through state-of-the-art collaboration technology provided by Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU). With its new capabilities, the Gwinnett district, the largest school district in the state of Georgia, is embracing the digital age and creating a more interactive learning environment for homebound students, while dramatically reducing costs across its campuses.

The new Alcatel-Lucent Voice over IP (VoIP) solution will link 114 schools in Gwinnett, providing a major reduction in telephony charges for a district that serves more than 157,600 students and employees a staff of approximately 22,000. Gwinnett is also using the Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch My Teamwork Unified Conferencing and Collaboration solution to better connect teachers and homebound students reducing the need for travel. The county hosts approximately 60 audio-visual calls per week serving 600 to 700 students who need to be educated at home.

"Previously, our teachers would either travel to each homebound student to provide a few hours of daily instruction or use an audio bridge to conduct group lessons. Voice-only instruction lacks the graphics and visual aids that help keep young, inquisitive students engaged," said Rick Overton, Director of Telecommunications & Network Services, Information Management Division, Gwinnett County Public Schools. "Alcatel-Lucent's VoIP network and the My Teamwork solution help teachers provide a richer learning experience -- they can use video clips for a history lesson, interactive graphing for science or white-board instruction for math."

The Gwinnett County Public Schools IP network already used a range of Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch Ethernet switches to provide the bandwidth and security needed by students and faculty for on campus communications. The more recent deployment of the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise provides a new VoIP solution and allows the district to centralize its main voice switches at the district headquarters, extending remote call servers with back up circuits at each school building when fully complete.

Morse Communications, Inc., an Alcatel-Lucent business partner, worked as project leader to gather requirements, customize and install the VoIP equipment, manage service cutover and train the school district staff. Morse currently is providing full-time, on-site backup support for the school system as well as ongoing service, maintenance and consultation.

"Effective and efficient communications technology is critical when creating a dynamic learning environment that makes it possible for students to connect with teachers, fellow students and other knowledge resources safely and securely -- anytime, anywhere," said Tom Burns, who heads Alcatel-Lucent enterprise activities. "My Teamwork will help Gwinnett County Public Schools expand access to education beyond the four walls of the classroom. Our solution helps school districts reduce travel requirements and transportation costs with a virtual infrastructure that brings students and teachers together when they can't reach the brick and mortar classroom."

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