Smithsonian Online Education joins network for colleges

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Smithsonian Institution is joining an ultra-fast broadband network built for universities to bring the world's largest museum and research complex closer to higher education.

Officials say the Smithsonian's partnership announced Tuesday with the university-backed Internet2 network could open the vast museum collections to students and researchers. The Smithsonian has been working to digitize its 137 million objects.

Internet2 will connect museums on the National Mall to its ultra-fast 100 gigabit network. It's about 100 times faster than Google's fiber-optic system operating in Kansas City, Mo., and being built elsewhere.

The partnership could open the Smithsonian to massive open online courses, or MOOCS, as well as other programs with colleges and K-12 schools.

Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough says the museums can reach many more people through digital education.