WONDER Open House

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

March 12, 1996

WONDER Network to Hold Open House

A new fiber optic network linking UW-River Falls with four other University of Wisconsin System campuses and four technical colleges will be inaugurated in an open house March 21.

The WONDER Network (Wisconsin Overlay Network for Distance Education Resources) will be officially unveiled at 12:30 p.m. in a live network event that will include U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley via satellite.

The event can be seen in the distance learning classroom in Room 112 of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building. Vice President Al Gore has been invited to participate, as well.

Developed last fall at a cost of about $2 million, the WONDER Network uses fiber optic technology to connect UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Stout at Menomonie with the technical system campuses, including Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire; Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton; and the Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

The network is used to send and receive postsecondary credit courses, distribute professional development courses and workshops, and conduct administrative video and audio teleconferences.

During Thursday's ceremony all nine WONDER sites will see a satellite downlink greeting from Secretary Riley and U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wausau.

The WONDER network covers the widest range of any fiber optic network in the state, blanketing roughly the northern third of Wisconsin. Fiber optic cable, maintained by local telephone companies, has much greater capacity than conventional phone lines, including the ability to carry video signals. It also delivers a flawless picture.

A class taught over the WONDER system allows the instructor to simultaneously teach to any or all other WONDER sites. It expands educational opportunities because the course ordinarily would not be available at the receiving institutions. Students also save time and money in avoiding long treks to distant campuses or remote educational sites.

Robert Hannu, network director, says the system can be expanded with the addition of other schools in the future. It is also compatible with other systems currently operating. UW-River Falls also is connected to 11 western Wisconsin school districts and WITC in New Richmond to form the WestWING network.

Funding for the WONDER network comes from members schools, with technical assistance from Access Wisconsin, a contractor working for the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Phone companies involved in carrying the network include Ameritech, GET, TDS Telecom, Century Telephone of Wisconsin, Frontier Communications of Wisconsin, and Wittenberg Telephone Co.

For more information, contact Barbara Audley, director of UW-RF Continuing Education Extension, at 715/425-3256.

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