Global Collaboration for the Joint University Course on the Next-Generation Internet

Keiko OKAWA <>
Keio University

Akira KATO <>
Tokyo University

Jim GAST <>
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Nara Institute of Science and Technology

Yasuharu TOYABE <>
Keio University

Lawrence H. LANDWEBER <>
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Jun MURAI <>
Keio University


In the fall semester of 1999, the University of Wisconsin in the United States, KEIO University in Japan, and NARA Institute of Science and Technology in Japan jointly developed a graduate school course called Introduction to Computer Networks using next-generation Internet technology and class archiving technology. This paper describes how this course was created, what kind of technology was used, and how all the participants (professors, students, staff, and faculty members) felt about the course. Then this paper discusses how the digital infrastructure will affect the university's role.


Course design

The basic requirements for the course design are as follows:

  1. Provide the CS640 Introduction to Computer Networks course given by Professor Lawrence H. Landweber at the University of Wisconsin (WISC) to students at KEIO University (KEIO) and NARA Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), both in Japan.
  2. Give students at WISC a chance to hear lectures by Professor Jun Murai from KEIO in his area of expertise.
  3. Give credit to students at both universities in Japan for taking this course.

To achieve requirement 3, Professor Muari and Professor Hideki Sunahara from NAIST created new courses with their own exams but also including lectures from WISC.

There were challenges to achieving this objective, including the time difference, the school term schedule difference, and the course policy difference. Wisconsin and Japan are 15 hours apart (14 hours during daylight savings time). And the school term starts at the beginning of September and lasts for 10 weeks at WISC, starts at the end of September and lasts for 15 weeks at KEIO, and starts at the beginning of October and lasts for 10 weeks at NAIST. Therefore, there is no possibility for the three universities to have a single class scheduled at the same time.

As a result, three courses were set up:

In order to solve the time and schedule differences, we recorded all the WISC lectures and archived them online so that Japanese students could hear all the WISC lectures.

To achieve requirement 2, Professor Murai scheduled five lectures for students in the regular WISC class on the topics of wireless, multicast, Domain Name System (DNS), IPv6, and technical overview of this distance learning project.

WISC's course consists of six major topics: overview, link layer, network layer, transport layer, IP layer, and congestion control. To give Japanese students the opportunity to have an interactive session with him, Professor Landweber scheduled six lectures on these topics for KEIO and NAIST students during KEIO's regular class time.

As a result, KEIO students hear six interactive lectures from Professor Landweber remotely on six topics, seven lectures from Professor Murai locally (these explain the topics in a little more detail), and archived lectures for their homework. In addition, all these lectures by Professor Murai and Professor Landweber are archived online so that students at all other sites can hear those lectures anytime. NAIST students hear all the archived lectures at the class time and six optional interactive lectures from Professor Landweber remotely. WISC students hear 24 lectures from Professor Landweber locally and 5 lectures from Professor Murai remotely. All students are also welcome to participate in any of the special interactive sessions.

System design

Based on the course design, we have 6 remote lectures involves 3 points, 5 remote lectures involves 2 points (WISC and KEIO), and about 45 archived lectures. The requirements for the systems are:

Interactive lectures over the Internet

  1. Students can see audio and video of lecturer with good enough audio quality for lectures lasting 1.5 hours.
  2. Lecturer can see audio and video of students in both sites during the lecture and interact with students for questions and answers.
  3. Students can see the materials that lecturers are using.
  4. About 30 megabits per second (Mbps) is available for the international link.

Archived lectures on the Internet

  1. Lectures consist of video, audio, and materials.
  2. Lectures are accessible from home.

Video/audio transmitting system

For the interactive lectures, DVTS[1] is selected because of the following reasons:

  1. high quality
  2. brief delay
  3. low cost
  4. Internet friendliness

DVTS, developed by the WIDE project and KEIO University, is a PC-based digital video data transport system. Two pairs of regular PCs (OS: FreeBSD) give bidirectional digital video (DV) quality conferencing (Figure 1). As DVTS transmits the DV data over the IP without any compression, the quality is very good and the delay brief, which is very important for interactivity. Also, DVTS can adjust the bandwidth usage based on the network condition from 40Mbps down to 10Mbps, which is important for all applications running on the Internet where the fixed bandwidth cannot be guaranteed. When DVTS reduces the transmitting data, it only reduces the video packets; audio quality can be preserved, which is also very important for lengthy lectures.

Figure 1. DVTS system overview

System and network configuration

In order to minimize the international data transmission, the following system configuration is proposed (Figure 2). Video/audio from NAIST will be transmitted to KEIO, then transmitted to WISC analogically (e.g., side by side, picture in picture, or just switched) mixed with KEIO classroom video/audio. This way, only one stream runs on the international link. In Figure 2, stream a includes both KEIO and NAIST.

Figure 2. Communication among three points

We have two choices here on how to transfer b and c to both sites: (1) use IP multicast, or (2) use the cell copy feature of ATM switch. In this project, we started with the cell copy solution, then planned to transit to the multicast for future flexibility. But actually cell copy was used only for lectures and multicast was used only for testing. Figure 3 is the network configuration among the three points using the cell copy solution.

network config
Figure 3. Network configuration

Interactive lectures are carried out by using IPv6 over the very high speed Internet test bed developed and operated by the joint effort among US-Internet2, APAN (Asian Pacific Advanced Network Association), JGN (Japan GIGABIT Network), JB (Japan Research and Development Network Association), and the WIDE project. For IPv6, KAME[2] implementation developed by WIDE project is used.

Sharing the materials

In order for two sites' students to see the same page of materials as the lecturer, we developed an application to synchronize the multipoint PowerPoint page over the Internet. This application works as follows:

  1. All sites should obtain the PowerPoint file in advance.
  2. Lecturer starts RPT as "lecturer."
  3. Listener starts RPT as "listener."
  4. Lecturer starts presentation using PowerPoint file on RPT.

Then, the page will be displayed on the listeners' screen and changed when the lecturer changes the page. Mouse events and page change events are transferred from the lecture system to the multipoint listener systems by using Internet Relay Chat (IRC) protocol. The RTP system runs on Windows 98 and is publicly available.

Communication among staffs

During the lectures and preparation, staff members communicate by IRC over IPv4. An IPv4 tunnel over IPv6 is prepared to serve IPv4 connectivity for the WISC classroom. KEIO and NAIST have IPv4 connectivity separate from IPv6 connectivity for DVTS.

Archived lectures

For archiving lectures, the School of Internet (SOI) lecture archive system is used.[3] This system was developed by the WIDE project SOI working group and has been used since 1997. This system gives audio and video synchronized with materials using RealVideo and SMIL features (Figure 4). In order to support home users, video and audio is encoded under 64 kilobits per second (Kbps). Archived lectures are stored at the SOI site[4] and viewed by a wide range of users.

archived Lecture
Figure 4. Archived lecture

Classroom design and operation

All three classrooms are regular rooms, not rooms specially equipped for distance learning. Screens, projectors, and cameras are placed to meet the following requirements:

  1. The local lecturer can face both local students and remote students.
  2. Students feel that the remote lecturer is making eye contact with them.

Figure 5 shows the classroom layout at KEIO. The other two sites are equipped similarly. In addition to the main screen (screen1), which displays the remote lecturer and screen 2 for material pages, 2 screens are placed to allow the lecturer to see students at the two other sites behind the local students. The camera that focuses on the lecturer's face is placed next to screens 3 and 4 to meet the eye-contact requirement. Another camera focuses on students and is used for question and answer sessions.

Classroom Layout
Figure 5. Classroom layout at KEIO

Figure 6 shows the equipment and staff layout. The blue line represents the video, the green line is audio, the orange line is audio and video, the black line is the PC and network facility, and the red line is the DV streams. A to G are the staff members. Table 1 explains their tasks.

System Config
Figure 5. System configuration and staff layout

Table 1. Staff and task
Position Tasks What to do
A PC Handle PC, DVTS, network operation
B A/V to WISC Mix and select the video and audio to send WISC
C A/V at classroom Select the video and audio to display the main screen and speaker for the classroom
D Camera for students Take video of students.
E Camera for lecturer Take video of local lecturer
F Lecture recording Record the audio/video for lecture archive.
G Material Display materials on screen 2 using RPT

The handling of audio and video in the classroom, the video to send to WISC, and the video to record for the archives depends on the situation. Table 2 provides some explanation.

Table 2. Audio and video selection
Situation Send from KEIO KEIO Classroom Recording for Archive
Video Audio Video Audio Video Audio
Lecture from WISC KEIO (camera 2)/NAIST -- WISC WISC WISC WISC
Lecture from KEIO KEIO (camera 1) KEIO WISC KEIO KEIO (camera 1) KEIO
Question and answer (Q&A) session between WISC students and KEIO professor KEIO (camera 1) KEIO WISC KEIO + WISC KEIO (classroom camera) KEIO + WISC
Q&A session between WISC lecturer and KEIO students KEIO (camera 2) KEIO WISC KEIO + WISC KEIO (classroom camera) KEIO + WISC
Q&A session from NAIST NAIST NAIST NAIST NAIST + WISC KEIO (classroom camera) NAIST + WISC

Staff members are trained before the lecture term begins.


We carried out seven interactive sessions at three locations for lectures by Professor Landweber from WISC and five interactive sessions at two locations for lectures by Professor Murai from KEIO. Attending the interactive sessions were about 20 students from KEIO, 50 students from WISC, and 10 students from NAIST. Every time, WISC students asked questions of Professor Murai and Japanese students asked one or two questions of Professor Landweber. We concluded that the system achieved enough interactivity among the locations. The DVTS system did not work for one lecture due to IEEE1394 board unstability. On that day, Professor Murai gave a local lecture instead. Stability is the future issue. About six staff members are required to operate the equipment for each lecture. We need to find a way to automate and minimize the human resources. About 45 lectures were archived online and accessed by students inside and outside of those three universities (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Access to the archived lectures

The evaluation by students, staff members, and faculty is currently being carried out through the online survey system[3] on the SOI site.[4] A more thorough evaluation will be put together by mid-February.


The success of this course proves that next-generation Internet technologies are already being used well in education. This experimental course has shown that next-generation technology can help students get the best lectures on specific topics from all over the world and university professors can construct their courses using those lectures, thus giving students a great learning opportunity.


This project is supported by the WIDE project, WISC, KEIO, and NAIST. Special thanks to Sam Etler and Bill Jensen at WISC; Kengo Nagahasi and Akimichi Ogawa at KEIO; and Masafumi Oe and Naoto Morishima at NAIST for the quality of technical support for this project. Thanks to Yuri Akita, Takeru Nomura, Yoko Murakami, Koji Ogawa, Koshiro Mitsuya, and Syoichi Yokoyama for helping with lecture operation. Special thanks to Kazunori Sugiura, Hideki Sunahara, Osamu Nakamura, and Hiroshi Esaki of the WIDE project. The WISC Computer Science Lab helped us in many ways to make this happen. Finally, special thanks to APAN and JGN for very high speed network support.


  1. Akimichi Ogawa, Katsushi Kobayashi, Osamu Nakamura, Kazunori Sugiura, and Jun Murai, "Design and Implementation of DV Stream over Internet," IWS99, 1999.
  2. Jun-ichiro Itoh, "Overview of KAME project," Work-in-progress session, USENIX 1998 Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 15-19, 1998.
  3. Keiko Okawa, Jun Murai, "School of Internet: A University on the Internet," INET'98, 1998.
  4. SOI: