The Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) hosted its biannual Member Meeting on May 10 in conjunction with the Ohio Higher Education Computing Council (OHECC) annual conference held at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. The meeting provided an opportunity for OARnet and its partners to share important updates on infrastructure upgrades, security services and broadband expansion efforts that impact higher education institutions, as well as to foster discussions about topical interests such as ChatGPT.
OARnet Chief Relationship Officer Denis Walsh discussed major initiatives underway or completed by OARnet, including a Fiscal Year 2024 rate change that will reduce costs for higher education members while allowing them to maintain their doubled internet subscriptions and prepare them for bandwidth increases.
Aaron Wise, director of networking, discussed upgrades to the network backbone and to many of OARnet’s regional fiber-optic rings, which link higher education institutions to OARnet’s high-speed network and the internet, that will be completed throughout 2023. Wise also offered a progress report on OARnet’s efforts to establish 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) connections to Chicago and Ashburn, Va., that will enhance peering and cloud connectivity.
Faaress Parham, cybersecurity architect, highlighted current security offerings, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Protection and the launch of phase two of OARnet’s Vulnerability Management program.
Guest speakers provided Member Meeting attendees with updates and discussion on a variety of topics:
- Michael Stankas, chief information officer and director of information services for Wright State University, provided an overview of major technology initiatives underway at the host institution.
- BroadbandOhio’s Amy Elbaor, deputy chief of special grants and projects, and Anna Miller, manager of digital equity and inclusion, offered updates on state efforts to bridge the digital divide, including the implementation of the new federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity (DE) programs.
- Showkat Choudhury, chief information officer, Central State University, and Jeff Choi, chief information officer, Wilberforce University, discussed how their institutions are implementing the NTIA Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, which is supporting the expansion of technology infrastructure, internet service and training for personnel at these historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Ohio.
- David Wright, director of academic technology and curriculum innovation, University of Dayton, and Alan Knowles, director of the New Media Incubator and instructor of professional and technical writing, Wright State University, discussed ChatGPT in higher education. ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot that can automatically generate text, has sparked wide discussion about the use of AI tools since its release in late 2022. Wright and Knowles discussed the evolution of ChatGPT and related technologies and their impact on network bandwidth, cybersecurity and pedagogy in higher education.
The next OARnet Member Meeting will be held in late September in conjunction with The Quilt annual conference, to be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus. More details about the event will be released soon.