"Klasseglas": fibre to the classroom (NL)

Project partners Municipality Achtkarspelen

Contact data

Willem Wouda, Project Manager;
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tel: 0512 362846;
Skype: willem.wouda

Sytze Nauta, Staff member Education,
Municipality of Achtkarspelen;
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tel: +31 511548159;
Skype: snauta123

Marc Crolla, Project Assistant;
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tel: +31 850020795;
Mob. +31 610805998;
Skype: marc.crolla

Introduction to the themes
Innovation in education by use of broadband facilities. The Klasseglas project is built on 4 themes:

  1. creating a vision on the use of ict in education and broadband facilities
  2. providing training expertise and knowledge to pupils, teachers
  3. providing digital resources
  4. providing the infrastructure (broadband facilities)

Key words education, elearning, digital infrastructure, quality of education, primary schools, shared services, knowledge sharing, self awareness/resilience, rural, interactive learning, self-discovery learning

Main problems to be solved (analysis)
The fall in the number of pupils is threatening the existence of (primary) schools in the area. This is a quantitative, rather than a qualitative problem. In situations such as these, clustering may be required.

However, there is also a qualitative “problem”. According to some researchers, rural areas can be characterized by the following: • limited size of village schools; • low ambitions; • a substandard quality of education (language and counting). The inferior standard of education is caused in part by the low socio-economic status of the Northeast of Friesland and the relatively low educational qualifications of parents. Through this project we want to improve the quality of education and increase the level of ambition of the pupils. As a result, this increases their chances on the labour market.

Policy frameworks to be dealt with/fitting in
Due to the correlation between quality of education, education standards and socio-economic development of the region, NOFA decided to launch an “education offensive” as part of its “Route Noordoost “programme (joint venture between provincial partners and Nofa municipalities). The education offensive is a joint venture between (local) government, education providers and the business community.
Municipalities in the region are working together to reinforce the socio-economic infrastructure by means of the Agenda Network Northeast. The project fits in one of the three project lines: “Sociaal en Leefbaar” which focusses on the liveability of the region.

Aim of the project
The construction of an affordable fibre optic network with shared facilities that meet the needs of the schools, not only in education but also in other facilities. The project therefore offers a future-proof solution for education in schools.

The level of education can be improved through the use of innovative ICT-resources and practice and by distance education. To make the use of innovative practices possible (video conferencing, use of digital learning material in class, animations, video’s that use a large data load) schools need broadband facility. It has been proven that wired cupper does not fulfil the needs. Some schools have already upgraded to coax, but this still leaves them with low speed, a-symmetrical connections The aim is to connect all schools (22) of Achtkarspelen with glass fibre to the Internet. By doing this, other broadband internet applications can be introduced. This creates many opportunities for applying new teaching and digital applications.

However, Klasseglas is not only about infrastructure but also about educational innovation by using ICT as a learning tool. It implicates another way of organizing cooperation of schools and learning methods as well. The project is mainly about education, not about infrastructure or fibre glass.  Goals: 1. to create a common vision of the future of ICT in education, resulting in cooperation and clustering of demand 2. to prepare and train staff and change their attitude towards the use of innovative ICT-resources 3. Stimulate the use of innovative ICT-practices in the classroom 4. Create a broadband network that makes it possible.

When the infrastructure is realised, it is also possible to achieve significant economies of scale, for the infrastructure enables combined services of ICT and operational management. This can reduce or even eliminate the vulnerability of primary schools in this area.

With a smart, integrated use of ICT and multimedia in education, carried out in a good balance between vision, expertise, material and infrastructure, we intend to solve the problem of low ambition and the substandard educational quality. Participating in creating fibre glass network should lead to innovation in education, more cooperation and knowledge sharing and sharing of facilities.

Innovative ICT applications provide the schools an opportunity to teach skills, e.g. language skills, and learn to cooperate and investigate, in a different, modern way. These can widen the scope of children and bring the world closer to them. Such applications also play an important role in the involvement of the environment of the school (parents, grandparents, knowledge institutions, etc.) and hence in securing the objectives (increasing level of ambition). The experiences of the project within Roobol History Clip (ref…) confirm this.

More and more schools are using digital learning environments for interactive learning and self-discovery learning. For the use of high quality video-on-demand, video-conferencing (e.g. for contact with an expert on distance), educational games and other 3D applications, a fast broadband connection is needed. A broadband connection such as fibre makes simultaneous use of video services and multimedia learning environments by various groups of students possible. With a fibre connection 100Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s symmetric (incoming and outgoing) traffic is possible. Moreover, this can be adapted to future needs, by increasing to a level of 10 Gbit / s symmetrical data traffic or more. The project investigates whether fibre is indeed the best solution and under what conditions.

A larger bandwidth means an improvement of the stability of the network, increase of the quality and an increase of the number of functions the network can handle. It makes standard links with partner governments and municipal administrations and libraries possible. The increased automation and computerization in schools lead to a significant increase in data and associated administrative tasks and burdens. This means that the primary education processes get under pressure. The organisation of technical maintenance and management is still rather decentralized in education, and often depends on the voluntary commitment of interested teachers, who do this in addition to their regular jobs. Only in some cases for ICT, a separate employee is appointed. Greater bandwidth facilitates central management of ICT facilities, such as making backups and installing new software.

Besides the expansion in functionality in education, administration and operational management, there are other possibilities. For example, streaming video can be used to improve the accessibility of the school, for monitoring purposes and telephony via VOIP (Voice over IP) is possible. Also, schools with a fibre optic network can share services.

Does this description reflect the aims of the project? What exactly will be done, when, by whom etc? I would say this problem offers an enormous chance to experiment with other educational methods and tools. May be that is even more important than the Broadband itself, which is ultimately merely a facilitating instrument.

(Expected) Results
The project has been divided into two parts:
1 Klasseglas-infra: construction of an ict-infrastructure: fiberglass and internet
2 Klasseglas-education: development of a clear vision and expertise, choice and implementation of applications and services

Expected result of the 1st subproject was: actual deployment and connection of the glass fibre. Objective: An affordable future-proof fibre-infrastructure for primary schools.

Expected result of the 2nd subproject was - efficient use of broadband services within and between schools - impulse for awareness and developing ICT as a learning tool - innovative modern education applications - knowledge building among teaching staff - inspirational education - higher education revenue generated by quality - expertise development - economic stimulus Klasseglas-infra: February 2012 two primary schools in Twijzelerheide are connected to glass fibre. This was made possible by combining projects which needed glass fibre in order to improve the operation of the projects: Klasseglas and Virtual Office. The other schools still need to be connected to fibre.

(Expected) outcome within the WP Achtkarspelen (NOFA) en Vejen, both partners in the VRA program Vital Rural Area of Interreg IV B, are interested in the exchange of information on education and broadband facilities. In the Vejen region a fiberglass and broadband infrastructure has already been realized and schools can benefit from good centralized services and can improve their education by using ICT. A small project plan is made to promote cooperation between the two regions.

(Expected) outcome for the region as a whole (impact of the project) It gives an impulse to innovative and modern education, by means of: - integration of ict in classroom, digital whiteboards, new education applications (use of new media and apps), YouTube, social media, Google, distance learning, informal learning, engaging parents in education. Knowledge of ict itself is a competence that is required. Children are facilitated to learn according to steps of scientific research. The role of the teacher becomes more guidance and coaching instead of teaching.
It broadens the scope of pupils living in small villages: pupils from primary school 't Twaspan in Twijzelerheide (connected by glass fibre) and Corville primary school in Ireland recently started regular contact via Skype conferences. Groups 7 and 8 of 't Twaspan talk online with children in group 5 and 6 in the small town of Roscrea. The first sessions are mainly exploratory. Although most children are used to work with the computer, they still have to get used to the new medium. For children in Friesland, this is an additional challenge: they must speak English.
It provides structured cooperation in the field of innovative education and ICT. Hopefully the project also starts (will be echoed) in other municipalities in Northeast Friesland.

Planning Phase Period Initiation phase 2009 • intention agreement Achtkarspelen – educational organisations. • February 10, 2009 decision boards of educational organisations Design phase 2010 • linking school vision and goals to digital learning material • choose digital content and learning material • choose learning materials suppliers, guidance and training • devise structure for knowledge sharing, guidance and training • choose suppliers ICT infrastructure, infrastructure management Implementation 2011 • fiberglass construction • installation in schools (estimated time required 16 months; not all schools will simultaneously be connected, this will be phased. • deployment training packages • interconnection services through market places, shared services between schools • subproject instruction and guidance teachers, courses • knowledge platform design, action research, monitoring Transfer 2012 Evaluation, identified issues for the future.

Subproject 1: Total costs € 340.000
Subproject 2: The enrolment of fiberglass is estimated to require an investment of millions, which isn’t available.

Financing The available budget of € 340.000 is initially raised as followed:
- municipality Achtkarspelen (€200.000)
- primary schools (€120.000) - VRA (€20.000)
The baseline study (in cooperation with the University of Twente) expenses are covered from the budget for implementation and organization. A part of the expenses for the ongoing studies executed by the University and the costs for the project management are covered by the VRA-budget.

Implementation of the project (cf. CAA)

Organizational project structure:

which stakeholders were involved? Public schools (Roobol), Catholic schools (Bisschop Muellerstichting), Noventa and VPGO (both organizations for Christian education, local and regional), Kabel Noord, Marc Crolla (independent consultant), University of Twente

what process did you run through to fit the project into local conditions? We gathered the local school boards to agree on a common policy on education, ICT and broadband facilities for educational services. We tried to find more local and regional organisations that needed broadband facilities, like businesses, library services and municipalities, to make the business case more interesting. We tried to find more funding for the infrastructural part but did not succeed so far. We heavily studied rural geographic and infrastructural characteristics to find the best economical solution for creating a broadband network. We contacted local enterprises that are interested in participating. We discussed our project with Vejen and found similarities with the Midtsoenderjylland-project (Vejen).

how did you sustainably implement the project (locally, regionally)? At this stage 2 out of 22 schools are successfully connected to broadband facilities. We expect more schools to be connected in 2012 and 2013. One of the largest successes and an important result is the sound cooperation between school boards and schools in the field of ICT and education. A successful Skype project on distance education has been set up.


1 Which successes were achieved so far in the pilot project?
- The endurable cooperation between school boards and schools in the field of ICT and education (that did not exist before). This resulted in a common vision on ICT and education, and the view on the necessity of obtaining better broadband facilities in the near future. A successful Skype project on distance education has been set up. Thanks to the project there is a lot of interest in the necessity of a broadband infrastructure, not only for education, but also for care, business, e-government and other fields.

- what is the background / main reason for these successes? A common understanding of the need for innovation in education through the use of ICT in education. A good cooperation between different partners within the communities. - what set-backs or problems did you face and what were the reasons for this? In our region schools in some villages are faced with diminishing populations. Priorities with some of the school boards lie elsewhere. Some of the school boards have staffing problems due to illness, mobility, career planning, this is causing a delay in the deployment of the project. The economical crisis in Europe has caused budget cuts in education. Schools are less willing to spend time and money on projects. -> I am very much interested in the innovative approach for primary education itself. Are there any experiments with (partly) computer-steered education, thereby creating better results and more efficiency?? In this project in fact the challenge is to improve education in situations of small schools on the countryside, thereby reinforcing efficiency and quality. The focus however is very much on the technical side (glass fibre network). The price of deployment of a glass fibre network went up the last 5 years. This is due to a shorter time the investors demand for Return on Investment.

During the tendering process of the construction of the fiberglass we were confronted with significantly higher costs than originally estimated. This is due to the characteristics of a rural area: a relatively sparsely populated area. In the Netherlands government agencies preferably leave the construction of fiberglass entirely to the market. However, because of the 'rural' characteristics of the province / region, in practice, the construction of infrastructure isn’t profitable and therefore has no priority among the market. Because Klasseglas set itself the objective to accelerate the construction of fiberglass connections we executed a combined demand of primary schools and several companies through a Request For Information (RFI) to the market.

In the course of the project the available budget appeared to be insufficient to realize the actual deployment / enrolment of fiberglass to the schools. The feasibility therefore depends on a possible broader approach. Connecting the schools as part of an overall plan focusing on maximizing the number of connections, including individuals (= concepts FTTH Fibre to the Home). This means an investment of millions of euros. Different scenarios are being investigated. It is a painful process due to different interests of the parties involved and some technical and legal hooks and eyes.

- are there any break-down patterns to be recognized in the project? As mentioned above, in the school boards.

- are these set-backs, problems or break-down patterns easy to solve? How? The main setbacks are caused by external factors and not easy to solve

- what are the DO’s and the DON’Ts of the project? DO: find commitment with the school boards, involve local government, organisations and businesses to get more support. Focus on educational needs, relate it to the curriculum: learning objectives, requirements of inspection), find teachers that show commitment. Find ambassadors to promote the project. Convince people of the need for 100% broadband coverage as durable future-proof solution. Find experts from similar projects, also from similar rural regions in other parts of Europe.

DON’T: Focus on technical details

- what are critical success factors in this project? Commitment of school boards and managers, support from local government

2 What are the expected boundary conditions for the project to be implemented?
- in terms of policy frameworks A suitable model for investing in a broadband network (e.g. joint venture or public design build operate) that fits into European regulations

- in terms of physical circumstances In a rural environment the added value is greatest, because ict can nullify physical distances, and networking and cooperation offers opportunities to raise quality of education in small schools.

- in terms of involvement of people / partnerships / entrepreneurs / public bodies Commitment of all partners, investigate, find, display common interest. Willingness to keep cooperating in the future. Also: a willingness to change educational methods that are regularly used! Reaching end terms of primary schools using alternative methods that lead to qualitatively better results and are cheaper… sounds quite promising.

- in terms of budget and financial support Additional funding for infrastructure.

3 Which related projects can be studied or consulted (other innovative best practice examples) before starting to think on implementation?

Schoolglas, Deventer The Schoolglasproject was created with the same purposes as Klasseglas. All primary schools in Deventer were connected to a broadband network, also providing digital resources, training etc. (

Midtsoenderjylland-project, Vejen In Midtsoenderjylland a glass fibre network between different Municipalities could be developed thanks to a cooporation between the Managing Authorities and private utility companies. Schools but also FTTH were implemented successfully.

Picto, Veendam, network for 80 schools In Veendam 80 schools were connected to a broadband fiber network, providing digital resources, training, applying economies of scale by sharing facilities (

Innovo, Limburg The Innovo foundation successfully connected hundreds of schools to a glass fiber network making a suitable business case working together with private entities. (

Open Discovery Space A European project with 51 partners and 23 countries participating, about sharing digital resources and repositories.

HSL-netwerk Heeze-Leende; cooperation focusing on construction of fibre networks and is comparable to the Vejen-project

4 What is the applicability / transferability of the project?
a) as derived from the project results - in terms of critical mass (physical, social, budget) The project fits good in a context with a substantial number of schools, which makes it possible to realise a network by means of fibre infrastructure. It makes it possible to use, share and develop new educational content and methods.

In order to develop a sustainable business case, cooperation between SME’s, government and education is necessary.

- in terms of the needs of the region or location Rural areas have specific problems (e.g. low population density, small schools, low ambitions of parents and thus of children, vulnerable socio-economic status) and in such a context good quality education (made possible by modern methods / ict), tuned to the needs of the regional labour market is very important. In this respect, our experience can be useful for other rural areas as was Vejen’s for our project.

- in terms of the starting point for implementation Good baseline measurement of the broadband infrastructure is essential, focusing on a good business case for the construction of fiberglass. Proved in this project initially too low.

- in terms of participation and organization Political support, administrative coverage in a broad sense (municipal and school) is necessary. Good project organization. Demand bundling system: when you start, the schools have different IT systems, a new IT system must be tendered at once, with all parties together.

- in terms of time needed for implementation At least 4 years structural commitment, depending on the presence of broadband / fibre.

- in terms of expected outcome (spin off for other fields: physical, social, economical) Spin off could be economic growth (development of new industries, new media etc). When education and the ambitions of the children, youth, is attuned to occupations in the region this will strengthen the regional economy.

Executing such a project brings different partners together: networks for future projects.

b) as derived from testing or implementation the project or the project results elsewhere. What were the results there? If the right investment model for the infrastructure found the network can be expanded and deployed in the whole region of NE-Fryslan.

5 Which tools does the project bring in to alleviate / help starting up implementation elsewhere?
- Website ( - Model for project management - Project plan & communication plan (both can be downloaded from the website - (the project, in Dutch: Background document Learning over the internet "Klasseglas" (in Dutch)) - Knowledge about innovation through ICT and distance learning in education. - The model “4 in balance” (vision/knowlegde/resources/infra) which is widely used in the Netherlands. - Request for Information - “Bouwen aan Ambities” - Example of a Convenant - Onderwijs 21 / Frysearch (based on evidence-based education and action research by teachers

6 Sustainability
a) How is/can the project be sustainably implemented? What is needed to reach this? - in terms of organization The board that gathers different school boards (Roobol, Noventa, Reformed) has to be in existence, a system of continuous quality improvement has to be implemented in the schools The current organisation is complying, see scheme above - in terms of regional / local networks/partnerships / people The current network is sufficient but can be expanded with more local partners - in terms of budget There is a suitable business case for network and services, no extra money will be needed, as soon as the initial infrastructure has been build. Maintenance can be payed out of returns.

b) what are the benefits of the project seen from the Profit, Planet, and People side? Successful cooperation between partners is disseminated within the region. Successful part of project on distance education is already being promoted within Europe. The 4-in-balance model can be used in any other country to improve ICT in education. eLearning facilities are shared through Open Discovery Space.

University of Siegen e.a (2010), Social impact of ICT Hahn, Ciolos, Kroes, Almunia, Guide to broadband investment, 3smart specialisation platform, September 2011