The Greek School Network (www.sch.gr) is the national network of the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs which safely interconnects all schools of Primary and Secondary education, including educational units abroad, services and entities supervised by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs at central and regional level, service providers of lifelong learning, students, teaching staff , other educators and other entities of Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs ( www.minedu.gov.gr ).
Through GSN the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs provides the educational community with e-learning services, communication and collaboration, e-government services as well as helpdesk and user support services. A brief description of the main services of GSN is presented in section 5.
GSN is the official and exclusive network and services provider for the units (schools/administrative units) of Public Primary and Secondary Education.
GSN also certifies all members of school community (schools, administrative units, teachers, students and administrative staff). The service of safe user authentication is being utilized by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs and regulated entities for the provision of specialized electronic services.
The first efforts to create a national network of schools started by the Ministry of Education in 1996, with actions implemented by the Computer Technology Institute as the “Pilot Schools Network of Achaia” (1996), “Odisseas” (1997), “Winds of Aeolus” (1998) of the action “Odisseia” of CTI.
The Greek School Network was formed as a single national network of schools in 2000. From the beginning of the creation of GSN, CTI undertook the strategic and technical coordination of all involved entities i.e. Universities.
The connection of schools of Secondary Education was completed in January 2011. Subsequently, priority was given to the connection of primary schools and to the assignment of personal accounts to teachers. The network grew rapidly during the period 2000-2006 with co-funded resources. In 2008 the Data Center of GSN was designed by CTI and acquired with resources from OPIS (Operational Program ‘IS’ )which gave a major push to the online services of GSN. During 2006-2009 the upgrade of the connections of more schools to broadband took place. Today broadband index reaches 98.9%. Since 2010 the upgrade of school connections with fibers began and more than 380 schools have now super high speeds which constitute an internationally high index.
The GSN as a public network is working closely and harmoniously with the other two national networks GRNET ( www.grnet.gr ) and SYZEFXIS ( www.syzefxis.gov.gr ) and plans the next day (in terms of access) which will be the transition of school’s circuits to the, under construction, Public Sector Network.
Since 2011 ,and in accordance with article 32 of N3966/2011, the administration and management of GSN is performed by CTI. For this purpose CTI established the Greek School Network and Networking Technologies Directorate (http://nts.cti.gr ), which cooperates with Universities and Technical colleges with specialized networking groups. These entities both support the school/administrative units of their region and some of them develop and support specific web and online services.
3. Infrastructures of Greek School Network
3.1 GSN’s Network Equipment
GSN is the largest public network in Greece in the number of users it serves. In particular, it interconnects and also connects in the Internet more than 15.000 schools, a community of 1.350.000 students and 160.000 teachers. GSN applies modern web technologies and is one of the first five school networks in the world that adopted IPv6 protocol.
GSN owns 91 nodes in all country capitals and in the largest Greek cities. The number of nodes is expected to reach 120 by the integration of the interconnection of GSN with the Metropolitan Optical Fiber Networks of Municipalities. The technical team of CTI that is responsible for the proper functioning of the backbone network manages more than 200 network devices daily. The average network traffic of GSN to the Internet is more than 4.5 GBytes daily.
Recently, GSN upgraded its network infrastructures of the school complex of Grava (the largest in Greece), using the most modern optical and wireless technologies to serve more than 3.500 users.
3.2 GSN’s main data center Equipment
The computing infrastructure of GSN is equally stronger. Through this infrastructure GSN provides its services to more than 215.000 members (schools, administrative units, teachers, students, etc.)
The main data center of GSN is located in Athens. Three other (of smaller capacity) data centers are located in Thessaloniki (one) and in Patras (two).
The technical team of CTI that is responsible for the smooth operation of data centers manages daily more than 100 servers and network devices.
4 Main Services of GSN
4.1 Broadband Connection
In all public schools and administrative units free broadband connection is provided. The connection charges of public education units with GSN and Internet burdens the State Budget. The units abroad do not receive this service. The connection technologies used are ADSL (mainly), optical fibers and selected lines (rarely). Broadband in GSN is 98.9% and analytically:
GSN’s broadband indicators
< 2 Mbps: 159 (1.1%)
2 - 10 Mbps: 8.451 (60.1 %)
10 Mbps - 100 Mbps: 5.074 (36.1%)
100 Mbps - 1 Gbps: 380 (2.7%)
The main objective of GSN for the next five years is the further upgrade of the medium speed connections, ie. up to 20Mbps for speeds of at least 50Mbps (VDSL technology) and further school connections with optical fibers in order to meet the expanding needs of schools.
The portal of GSN http://www.sch.gr operates as an informational point for actions related to education and as a central point of access to GSN services. The main features of the portal are:
- News, announcements and events related to the educational community
- Instructions and manuals for services provided by the GSNP
- Personal websites of the members of GSN and other educational websites
- Access to the personal admin panel for each member of GSN
- Connection with other services of GSN
Visitor statistics: >245.000 unique visitors (May 2014)
4.3 Central user authentication service
The Central User Authentication Service ( https://sso.sch.gr ) provides access to a member of GSN from a single point (Single Sign On) in all integrated applications of GSN and in authorized services of the Ministry and other educational partners without the need for re-accreditation of the user in each one of them.
This is the most popular service of GSN and aims to the handling of users’ emails i.e. schools, teachers, administrative units, administrators and students. Communication is secure and a series of modern features is provided such as viruses and spam protection etc.
- Service’s members: 215.000
- Daily average number of users: 42.000
- Formal unit’s e-mail accounts: 16.996
- Other units accounts (e.g. Schools libraries etc.): 5.857
- Personal Accounts: 192.421
4.5 Email Lists
The email listing service is designed for the easy handling of messages and documents to large number of users. This service is widely used by the Ministry and its regional structures for the handling of formal correspondence at schools.
4.6 Web Hosting
The Web hosting service gives schools, administrative units and teachers the opportunity to create and easily maintain their website.
- Active websites: 16.614
4.7 Internet Safety
For GSN the safe access of students to the Internet and their protection against inappropriate content is a fundamental principle. Since 1999, GSN operates a content control service on the web and applies a secure content policy, in line with the international practices and legal requirements.
GSN supports initiatives of Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs such as informing schools through online meetings from the Computer Crime Unit of the Greek Police. Specifically GSN provides teleconferencing and live broadcasting services for the implementation of online meetings and until today more than 10.000 schools have actively participated.
Furthermore GSN (CTI) functions since 2006 the informative hub “Internet Safety” ( http://internet-safety.sch.gr ) through which reliable and targeted information, support and quality educational material for students and teachers is provided.
Since 2013 GSN (CTI) participates as a national coordinator in eSafety Label action of the European Schoolnet. Through this action Greek schools can attain a special certification which aims to the support of schools in order to provide a safer online environment for teachers and students. Quantitative indicators of eSafety Label bring our country in the first place in Europe.
A complementary initiative of GSN is the action “Call an expert for Safe Internet” (http://internet-safety.sch.gr/call-an-expert ), which offers schools the opportunity to call a certified instructor in safe internet issues to organize an event to inform and educate the school community. The body of experts consists of specially trained and certified teachers and education officials.
4.8 Teleconference service
The teleconference service ( http://meeting.sch.gr ) provides to the certified members of GSN (teachers, schools and administrative units) the ability to create conference calls. The administrator interface is fully localized, supports full audiovisual communication and allows presentation view, file and application sharing amongst participants. This service is in use in September 2014 and has been used in more than 10.000 schools in 36 teleconferences of Electronic Crime.
- Users: 10.414 (mainly schools)
- Total number of teleconferences: 251
- Total duration of teleconferences: 485 hours
4.9 E-Learning Service
The e-learning service (http://e-learning.sch.gr ) of GSN is based on the world’s leading Learning Management System Moodle. It provides a convenient interface through the internet which promotes participative and collaborative learning. It supports distinct user roles and provides secure and personalized access through its integration with GSN directory service. This service has been certified according to SCORM LMS-RTE STANDAR and it is completed with the teleconferencing and synchronous e-learning system Big Blue Button.
- Courses : 1.382
- Users: 17.089
- Course creators: 1.168
- Trainers: 1.830
4.10 Electronic Classroom service
The Electronic Classroom service ( http://eclass.sch.gr ) is addressed to teachers and students of primary and secondary education and enriches the course that takes place daily in the classroom with modern educational ICT tools. The teacher can create online courses and fully interact with his/hers students. This service can also be used for training, collaboration etc. between teachers.
- Members: 11074 teachers from 3096 schools
- Current school year 2014-2015: 5.328 courses from 1.131 schools
4.11 Educational Communities and Blogs
Blogs and social networking are second generation digital tools (Web 2.0), which are used in the educational process because of their interactive and collaborative offering. The GSN provides the service of Educational communities and blogs ( http://blogs.sch.gr ) through the open source platform WordPress. A key feature is that the GSN service provides equivalent functionality to those of public social networks (Facebook, twitter etc.) but in a completely secure environment where all members are certified.
- Total number of blogs: 31.057
- Total users: 30.668
- Groups: 627
- GSN users that are members in one group at least: 6.214
- Blogs traffic: >320.000 unique users ( December 2014 )
Last three months activity:
- 3.076 new blogs
- 21.855 new articles
- 651 comments in articles
4.12 Electronic school press
The Electronic school press service ( http://schoolpress.sch.gr ) based on the open source platform WordPress and addressed to teachers and students of Primary and Secondary education and enriches the classical teaching process with group collaboration tools and with the publication of a group’s activity. Students are encouraged to express themselves, develop and evolve their skills in writing.
- Magazines: 881
- Articles: 10.029
4.13 Video services and live broadcasts
The video service ( http://vod.sch.gr ) provides the ability to search, post and play video with modern tools. It allows users who post material, to enter metadata while offering a personalized service to all certified members of GSN. High definition videos are supported from different devices. This service is offered to schools and teachers who can also create their own radio and tv channels and their own groups in which video material is distributed only amongst its members.
- Uploaded videos: 2.719
- Users that uploaded video: 941
- Video groups: 70
- Video channels: 53
An important feature of the service is the live broadcasting ( http://vod.sch.gr/live ) which regards to the live broadcasting to the school community as well as online events organized by the Ministry of education, supervised entities or schools. The service is very popular and more than 90 events broadcasted live during the latest three years.
4.14 Communication and Cooperation Service
The communication and cooperation service ( https://www.uc.sch.gr ) offers schools and teachers with calling options ,either with voice or video, telephone conference between multiple users, sending voice messages (voice mail), receiving fax with automatic forwarding to email, instant messaging and marking presence feature. The major benefits of using this service are:
- Cutting down on resources, as communication between users is free.
- Facilitating communication and collaboration between users.
- Creating conditions for the utilization of services as a modern educational and collaboration tool between students and teachers.
- Upgrading telephone support services provided to GSN (helpdesk).
4.15 User Support (Help-Desk)
For the immediate resolution of any technical problem encountered in connection, provided services and their use. Provided via telephone: 801.11.801.81 (9.00 - 17.00 daily, except holidays), via email / fax and through a change management system http://www.sch.gr/helpdesk. The user support service is provided by all partners and a total of about 120 engineers and technicians are dedicated to it nationwide. User support service carries out a vast number of tickets regarding requests for technical support in school’s ICT infrastructures and requests for GSN services submitted by schools.
- Tickets (2014) 66 168
(Phone calls serviced are not included)
- With remote support 52 202 requests
- On-site visit to school 13 966 requests
5 Interconnection with European Actions and International Awards
The GSN has received the following international references and distinctions.
- Greek school network increasingly turning to open source (2014) https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/greek-school-network-increasingly-turning-open-source
- Greek school network adopt IPv6 (2007) http://cordis.europa.eu/result/brief/rcn/3467_en.html
- Networking students and teachers in Greece (2004) http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/esf/docs/el2_1_en.pdf
Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs, www.minedu.gov.gr
Computer Technology Institute and Press www.cti.gr
National Technical University of Athens, www.ntua.gr
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, www.auth.gr
Democritus University of Thrace, www.duth.gr
National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, www.uoa.gr
Aegean University, www.aegean.gr
University of Thessaly, www.uth.gr
University of Ioannina, www.uoi.gr
University of Crete, www.uoc.gr
University of Macedonia, www.uom.gr
Technological Education Institute of Athens, www.teiath.gr
Technological Education Institute of Thessaloniki, www.teithe.gr
Internet Service Provider: Greek Research and Technology Network, www.grnet.gr