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Digital Middletown Schools Project: A Glance to the Future

, , , , , Ball State University, United States

AACE Journal Volume 15, Number 3, ISSN 1065-6901 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA


This article reports on the deployment of a high-bandwidth wireless network for content distribution to two schools. The project, titled Digital Middletown, builds upon the sociological Middletown studies from the 1920s (Lynd & Lynd, 1929) to understand how "Middle America" reacts to and addresses societal change. We report on the deployment of different types of content by way of a high wireless bandwidth over long distances in an effort to establish a national prototype. As bandwidth becomes cheaper; compression and distribution technologies improve, new and more pervasive long distance high bandwidth wireless technology will make content such as high definition media files, synchronous videoconferencing, and simulations and games part of the educational process. In 2004, Ball State University sought to comprehensively test the deployment and the usability of interactive media delivered over long distance high-bandwidth wireless technologies. Our project, titled the Digital Middletown Project (DMP), investigates how the availability of a high bandwidth (30 Mbps) wireless network impacts the delivery of educational, entertainment, and social activities. Deployment of a high-bandwidth wireless network allows for content distribution to a wider geographic area than more traditional means (e.g., dialup, cable). The network provides a development ground for widespread distribution of content for testing and distribution directly into classrooms and schools. The project brings together full time staff in Information Technology, faculty in Teachers College, and staff in two elementary schools. Each group brought unique prior backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to the planning and implementation process. Project partners included Gateway™, Proxim™, Alvarion™, MIT, Movielink™, and Discovery Company™ with support provided by the Center for Media Design at Ball State University and funding from the Lilly™ Endowment.


Mullen, L., Nasseh, B., Smitherman, O., Lutz, D. & Draper, V. (2007). Digital Middletown Schools Project: A Glance to the Future. AACE Journal, 15(3), 211-224. Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved November 14, 2019 from .



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