Customer Success Story
Merit connects Michigan public schools to power learning
Bandwidth should never be a barrier to education. That’s the aim of the Michigan State Education Network (MISEN), which provides fast, affordable, and reliable Internet services to public schools throughout the state.
Merit, the independent nonprofit governed by Michigan’s public universities, transformed MISEN to meet today’s digital learning expectations of the state’s 1.4 million public school students.
K-12 schools and administrative sites connected
Students served with Internet access
Rising digital expectations for classroom learning
When the pandemic forced an unprecedented pivot, school districts across Michigan doubled down on digital learning. Closing the digital divide in rural and underserved areas was a top priority. When students returned to in-person learning, digital resources transformed classroom learning.
“When students returned to school in person, they brought twice as many devices,” says Jim Moran, services manager at Merit. “There was also a huge increase in teachers’ use of educational video, instead of printed materials.”
Michigan’s public K-12 schools needed faster, more reliable Internet connections to accommodate the bigger traffic loads generated by the extra devices and video. Merit, which assists higher education, K-12 schools, healthcare, government and nonprofit organizations with networking, cybersecurity, and IT, was chosen to lead the upgrade.
Expand Internet services to meet growing demands
“MISEN has greater capacity and resilience with more flexibility to adopt future technology,” says Michael Milliken, vice president for network technology and innovation at Merit. “Michigan’s public schools benefit from high-performing, reliable, and affordable Internet, enabled by Juniper networking.”
The new 100-Gbps backbone more than doubled network capacity for Michigan’s public schools. A metro Ethernet design enables greater resiliency and more responsive connectivity to apps and services in the cloud and district data centers. Real-time monitoring of school site connectivity accelerates incident resolution and minimizes learning disruptions.
MISEN relies on Juniper MX Series Universal Routing Platforms for the core and edge networks and Juniper EX Series Ethernet Switches for port aggregation. Juniper networking has been at the heart of Merit’s 4,000 lit fiber mile network for two decades, and Juniper continued to be a good fit for the next generation of MISEN, too, says Milliken.
“Juniper helps us serve the needs of our K-12 schools,” says Milliken. “The Juniper products that we select and deploy for Merit’s members are high-quality, with the right feature sets.”
A flexible foundation to reimagine learning
MISEN is ready as Michigan’s school leaders reimagine learning based on the lessons they have taken away from the pandemic. MISEN easily accommodates online resources, learning management systems, student information systems, and achievement assessments—as well as the massive increase in video and devices.
Merit provides more than fast, reliable, affordable Internet to Michigan’s public schools. The network is engineered to support remote learning, video conferencing, virtual labs, and digital libraries; direct peering with cloud providers; and access to Internet2. Support is highly attuned to the needs of Michigan’s public schools.
“The SEN, in collaboration with Merit, is closing the digital divide for all K-12 students in Michigan. The goal is to connect schools with the networking capacity needed to ensure that teachers and students never see bandwidth as a barrier to achieving their goals in the classroom. We have already saved millions of dollars for our kids and classrooms, while providing a vehicle for shared services, affordable internet access, and cybersecurity. We are truly excited about the future benefits we will achieve for K-12 and beyond, as we continue to enhance and expand this world-class network for the State of Michigan,” said Matt Stark, director, MISEN.
With a mission to connect organizations and build community, Merit also operates the Michigan Cyber Range, the nation’s largest unclassified private cybersecurity training cloud. Merit also developed the Michigan Moonshot initiative as a call to action to lessen the digital divide in the state. And through Merit research, the organization supports internet security research through its Orion network telescope that observes global malware propagation.
Published February 2022